Supervisor Harassment

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss misinterpreting honest work: I was reviewing an article totally in line with my job on domestic violence with a 2 min audio by Halle Berry on domestic violence.

My new supervisor of 6 mos. is making statements of me doing wrong things that are not true. Example, today I was listening to audio on my computer via the Internet of Halle Berry speaking for 2 min. on domestic violence. My supervisor walked by my desk and said, “Are you listening to a Webinar? I said, “No; I am listening to a news audio.” She asked me to turn it off and I did. She then went and typed a memo to me cc(ing) my big supervisor. Her memo went on to say: “I have spoken to you regarding the Internet policy of the county. You are not to listen to Internet radio.” I was not listening to the “radio”; I was reviewing an article totally in line with my job on domestic violence with a 2 min audio by Halle Berry on domestic violence. I was researching and she made it sound like I was listening to the “radio” which was not true, and I feel put me in a bad light. She has done this several times. What can I do?

Signed, In A Bad Light

DearĀ In A Bad Light:

You feel put down and are angry with your supervisor. You can see her as an enemy or as a challenge. Even if you choose to hate her, you are learning how not to supervise. I once was in summer stock in Boston. The director there was indecisive about his casting and kept changing his blocking. I learned from that unhappy experience that a director should take care to carefully plan. You undoubtedly are learning that a supervisor should not jump to conclusions and that there must be more constructive ways to supervise. You also probably are learning that you need to find a way to assert your self. Let’s suppose you decide to see these unhappy exchanges with your supervisor as a challenge.What might you do to correct the feeling that she has besmirched your good name? Here are several steps you can consider taking:

First, take time to review the rules within your workplace and see if they need to be clarified, possibly not only for you but also for your supervisor.

Second, send a memo to your supervisor. In that memo, give her the benefit of the doubt by saying you can understand how she could have unintentionally misinterpreted your listening to Internet radio when you were listening to Halle Berry on domestic violence and that is in line with your job as. State that you had tried to explain that to her and apparently she did not understand or believe you.Stress that you especially regret that she nevertheless sent you a memo of reprimand recharging you with breaking the rule of “Not to listen to Internet radio” and you think your good standing has been damaged, especially by sending a copy of her memo to the Big Supervisor.

Third, therefore, request that she correct the accusation in writing and that she copy your exchange of memos and her correction to the Big Supervisor that you were listening to Internet radio. Also request a few moments with her to develop a better working relationship; one that sees her as a coach rather than as a monitor. Pledge yourself to do good work and commit to doing what you reasonably can to make her job easier.

Fourth, be a cheerleader in your work area. Attend to business and briefly say a word of praise when you see someone doing good work, such as “Right on, brother” or “That’s the way to make our super smile.”

Fifth, think communication. Avoid idle chatter and gossip, but in addition to a morning hello, check regularly with your supervisor about assignments and get a reading on what work is pending. Before leaving with a rush out the door, check with co-workers and her on the status of matters that might concern them. In staff meetings, when it seems appropriate, talk about talk. Talk about the dos and don’ts rules of communication that might make your and others’ work more effective. A practice that differentiates a work group for a team is from time to time to ask such questions as: How well are we communicating? What did we do well this week and what might we do to make our jobs more effective?Sixth, think WEGO. By that I mean see and commit yourself to the big picture.

Set your mind to finding ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted duplication, wasted energy, wasted time, and wasted money. Make those suggestions to your supervisor and ask her if they make sense. This advice is bound up in my closing thought: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Isn’t that the kind of good feeling you want to have for all with whom you work, including your supervisor? Why not surprise your self and me after a few weeks with a follow up note telling me that you and your supervisor now have hammered out your feeling of mistrust and, even though you are not close friends, you are doing what you can to make her job easier and that she is giving you less hassle?

William Gorden