Q: A few months ago, my colleagues and I got a new manager who makes our lives a living hell. “Kristen” has no management experience and nitpicks everything we do. She gets angry about small stuff and talks to us like we’re in third grade. She has also allowed the office to get disgustingly filthy.
As a supervisor, Kristen is supposed to divide her time between doing administrative work and serving customers. However, she has started leaving several hours early every day without doing any customer service. Since she prepares the payroll, she continues to pay herself for complete workdays.
We would like to report Kristen for falsifying records, but we’re concerned about losing our jobs. Although our small business was recently purchased by a very large company, Kristen will still be our manager. How should we handle this?
A: Complaining about the boss is always risky, so you must weigh the benefits of informing against the possible cost. Fortunately, the recent acquisition may provide a solution. Virtually every large company has a human resources department, so your new HR manager could be the ideal audience for this information.
If you take this step, present your case as a group, since that will increase the impact while reducing the risk. Airing a long list of grievances might cause management to question your motives, so focus only on the payroll issue without mentioning Kristen’s annoying habits. Before making this report, get assurances that your identities will be kept confidential.
But if a personal presentation might threaten your job security, another option is to send an anonymous account of Kristen’s inaccurate record-keeping. While nameless complaints about interpersonal issues are typically disregarded, descriptions of financial wrongdoing are much more likely to be investigated.
Q: Shortly after accepting a new management position, I heard rumors that one staff member, “Molly,” is concerned about working for me. In my last job with this company, I was thrown into managing a retail store during the holiday season. Because I was still learning the ropes, everything was complete chaos. Unfortunately, Molly worked there for a few months.
Since that time, I have become a much better manager. However, Molly has apparently told other employees about her previous bad experience with me. I’m concerned she may decide to leave and encourage others to do the same. How can I convince her to stay?
A: Considering that this is grapevine information, you don’t want to overreact, but you shouldn’t ignore the warning either. Instead of dwelling on earlier unpleasantness, try using the previous episode as a springboard to discussing the present.
For example: “Molly, I’m really pleased that you’re here, because I was impressed when we worked together before. That holiday season was a crazy time for me, since I had just joined the company. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot since then. I’m looking forward to working with you again and would certainly like to hear any suggestions you may have.”
Your goal is to briefly acknowledge past issues while taking steps to establish positive, open communication. Since Molly only knew you for a short time, changing her opinion should not be too difficult.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.