On the Job

Is There Friction With the Boss? Snuff It Out

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By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, June 6, 2007; 5:28 PM

You think you've been doing a great job at work, and then you hear that your manager is telling others a different story. Should you walk out the door and never look back, or is there something you can do to set things right?

That's the question plaguing one worker, who's thinking about calling it quits because she suspects her boss of criticizing her behind her back.

I found out through some co-workers that my boss has been bad-mouthing me. It caught me by surprise, because he hasn't said a word to me about having any problems with my performance. I even got a 4 percent raise recently. According to my co-workers, he made some mean-spirited generalizations about me and my work style, but gave no specific details.

I think I'm doing a good job, but hearing this concerns me. I am now looking for another job. I have a lot of responsibilities and am having a hard time focusing on my work. How can I continue on every day knowing this information? What should I do?

Leaving one's job because of hearsay is foolish, says Marna Hayden, president of Bethlehem, Pa.-based human resource management firm Hayden Resources Inc. This worker may be overreacting and Hayden suggests going directly to her boss for answers.

To avoid confrontation, Hayden recommends an informal meeting in which the worker can ask if there's anything she needs to improve on or if the boss needs assistance with a project. By doing this, says Hayden, it should help the worker figure out if her manager has hidden issues with her performance.

Getting caught up in office drama benefits no one, warns Hayden, who asks if this worker is sure that her co-workers aren't blowing things out of proportion or taking comments out of context.

In the meantime, the worker needs to remain positive and remember that she got a 4 percent raise at a time when the typical annual raise is between 3 and 3.5 percent -- and, in some cases, less, she mentions. Until the worker talks with her manager and he says otherwise, she should assume that she is doing a good job, suggests Hayden.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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