Skip to content
Apr 18 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: How Far Does Unwanted Attention Have To Go Before A Supervisor Intervenes?

QuestionsDear Evil Skippy:

I supervise a group of ten employees and am concerned that one of them may be giving unwanted romantic attention to another.  No one has complained so I have stayed out of it.  How far do things have to go before I should intervene?

– Supervisor

Dear “Supervisor”:

Far enough for you to feel compelled to write to some blog guy who you’ve never met.

–  Evil Skippy

You’re a supervisor, so supervise.  As soon as you were concerned, you should have done something.  By “something”, I do not mean an investigation or discipline.  I mean you should have talked to the target of Romeo or Juliet’s affections and asked how things are going.  If the target said “Fine”, you should have replied, “I’m glad.  I thought I noticed some attention from a co-worker that you might not welcome and I wanted to make sure everything was all right.  Is it really all right?”  (Pay attention to the fact that I did not name the other co-worker in this question.  There is no need to make your employee nervous about anyone if it turns out your concerns are mistaken.)

It’s not too late (I hope) to have that conversation, so talk to your employee at your earliest opportunity before the situation becomes more serious if indeed there is a problem.  (I suspect there is some sort of problem since you have concerns – they came from somewhere).  A huge mistake many supervisors make is waiting for a complaint rather than taking action when they suspect a workplace problem is brewing.

Here is the bottom line.  You are a supervisor and this is your job.  So do it.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 17 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Supervisor Did Not Take My Complaint Seriously

SlapDear Evil Skippy:

A co-worker asked me out on a date and I said no.  He asked again and I gave the same answer and also told him to stop asking.  He asked a third time, so I reported him to my supervisor.  My supervisor (who is also a woman, like me) said she can’t imagine why I would turn down a date with such a nice guy.  What should I do next?

–  Cynthia

Dear Cynthia:

Take a lot of notes about what’s happening so you have good evidence for your lawsuit.

          –  Evil Skippy

Your supervisor is a dolt and I am issuing a serious slap her way.  Her obligation was to take your concern seriously and she failed to meet that simple standard.  It’s time to talk to your supervisor’s boss or the Human Resources Manager.

Contrary to ES’s response, I think it is premature to be thinking about a lawsuit.  Lawsuits usually aren’t worth the time, hassle and stress to the litigants and are a boon only to the lawyers.  (That’s one of the many reasons I went on to other pursuits).  I know that in some cases lawsuits are the only way to achieve something in the neighborhood of justice, especially when new ground is being broken (such as the first harassment cases or early discrimination claims).  They can also be the only option when stakes (i.e. potential damages or the number of claimants) are very high.  Unless more has happened to you, however, a lawsuit is not where you want to go.  You want your co-worker to do his job and leave you alone.

Your supervisor did you a disservice. Perhaps she is a dolt; perhaps she just spoke too quickly and realized her foot was in her mouth as soon as her toes were damp.  Either way, your concern should be addressed in a professional manner.  Give your employer another chance by talking to a higher level of management.  Report what your co-worker did and how your supervisor responded.  If you still hit brick walls, then it’s time to think about lawyers.  And taking notes.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 16 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Co-Worker Booked Herself On My Cruise

427173_3267927867205_303038916_nDear Evil Skippy:

A friend of mine and I decided to book a cruise for next September.  After I mentioned my plans at work, a co-worker who I don’t care for all that much booked herself on the exact same cruise.  She told me the news as if she thought I would be happy but I was not.  I was stunned and did not react much at all to her face but I am upset about this.  I don’t care for the woman (although we work well together) and one of the many joys of this trip was going to be completely getting away from anything associated with work.  I know this is not something that I can take to my supervisor – so I am turning to you.  Is there a way I can convince my co-worker to change her plans without getting myself in trouble at work for being mean to her?

–  Shannon

Dear Shannon:

A good friend keeps telling me that one can find anything on Amazon.com.  Have you considered acquiring a backbone and telling your co-worker the truth?

If my friend is wrong and you can’t buy a backbone, don’t worry.  One little nudge while standing next to her at the rails an hour or two after the bon voyage party will take care of the problem.

–  Evil Skippy

ES is insane.  There are cameras all over cruise ships and you would never get away with it.  Whoops.  I meant to say:  ES is insane.  Murder is “wrong”.

ES is right about the backbone.  You don’t need to buy one but you should use the one you have.  As nicely as possible and in private, sit down with your co-worker and tell her that you had planned on this as a TOTAL vacation from work.  Tell her you will not be joining her for dinner or tours or walks on the promenade deck because you know you’d end up thinking about work.  Act as if you know she understands and agrees.  Explain you are telling her now so she won’t be surprised during the cruise.  The awkwardness of this conversation and the chance she may have hurt feelings should not stop you from taking action to protect the joy of your pending vacation.

Another option – and one that I like if it is possible because there is a bit of evil to it – is to contact the cruise line and change your date.  Unless you are doing a special cruise offering, there is a good chance that the line offers the same or a very similar itinerary the week before or after what you have already planned.  Change your date and, whatever else you do, don’t tell your co-worker.  (You will need to tell your supervisor about the change in vacation dates, but you can ask him or her not to tell anyone else about the change until later.  By “later”, I mean until it is too late for your co-worker to sign up for the same cruise.)  When your co-worker finds out (and she will, even if it is not until she realizes you aren’t on the ship after she embarks), she will undoubtedly express dismay that you did not tell her about the change in plan.  Whether she finds out soon or later, simply act surprised that she cared and tell her you had not realized she had planned on meeting up with you during the trip.  It requires a little acting and more than a touch of deceit, but happy vacations are worth it in my book.

All things considered, however, I’d go with the direct approach.  Mom always said, “Honesty within reason is the best policy”.  Mom was wise.

Readers – what would you do?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 15 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: We’re Putting On A Show To Raise Money For Charity

images-123Dear Evil Skippy:

Our company organizes a big fundraiser every year to raise money for local charities.  We volunteer our time, but our employer pays for publicity and other expenses.  This year, we thought it would be fun to put on a musical starring employees and family members.  We are having trouble selecting a play that will be appropriate for most audiences and decided to give a vote to you.  Do you think we should do “Anything Goes” or “The Music Man”? We’d also like to hear what your readers would pick.

–  Organizer

Dear Organizer:

How can you not know that the only people who will willingly fork over money for tickets to your show are (a) Family members who owe you because you bought cookies/sponsored walkers/attended an auction/whatever to support them; or (b) Die-hard supporters of the charity who probably won’t bother filling a seat?

Instead of extorting from and torturing your loved ones and acquaintances, try thinking smart. Ask people to donate a nominal sum if you promise not to force them to watch you perform “You’re the Top” or “Shipoopi”.  I guarantee you will make a lot more money this way than by putting on the show.

If you do insist that I vote, I vote for “Anything Goes”.  Why?  You don’t need any kids in that one and kids always mean less drinking at rehearsal.

– Evil Skippy

Putting on a show?  Mickey Rooney would have been so proud.  Break all your legs!  I agree with ES’s choice of musical but not in order to promote drunken rehearsals.  Avoiding a production with child actors means there won’t be hard feelings among the employee-parents whose miraculously talented offspring aren’t cast in the main kids’ roles.  Hell hath no fury like a spurned stage parent.

Readers – which show would you choose?


 

 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

 

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 14 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Boss Got Mad When I Corrected Her At A Meeting

SlapDear Evil Skippy:

I attended a meeting with my supervisor that involved people from a couple of different departments as well as our manager.  My supervisor made a comment that was incorrect, so I jumped in and reminded her what had really happened.  She thanked me at the time, but when we returned to our department she told me to never make her look bad in front of upper management again.  She seemed real mad and since then has been acting cool toward me. Do you think it would have been better for me to let the meeting proceed with misinformation rather than to point out the error?

–  Just Tried To Help

Dear J.T.T.H.:

By limiting your options to (a) speak up and (b) don’t speak up, you are displaying the common logical fallacy known as “either/or” thinking.  In real life, there are seldom just one or two choices. You definitely had more than two, so start using your brain and be more creative.  For example, if your supervisor once again “mis-speaks”, you could:

  1. Pretend to faint to create a distraction, then whisper the truth to your supervisor when she checks your vital signs.
  2. Kick your supervisor under the table and mouth the words, “Retract! Retract!”
  3. Wait until after the meeting.  Then approach your manager and say, “My supervisor goes nuts if we correct her publicly, but I want you to know . . .”
  4. Experiment with mental telepathy.
  5. Slap your boss for being a dolt, as I am doing right now.

Of course, you could also be proactive and avoid all meetings in the future.  That’s would be my approach, but that’s just because I hate meetings.  

You’re welcome,

–  Evil Skippy

I agree with ES that your boss sounds like a dolt.  Provided you simply spoke up to correct a factual mis-statement, you handled the situation appropriately. (On the other hand, if you chortled and acted as if you thought she were a dolt for making the mistake, then you are the dolt. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what exactly happened).

I once had a boss who made lots of mistakes when speaking at meetings with clients, judges or other attorneys.  She was the type of person who would have reacted like your supervisor and been angry about being corrected in public. My approach was to say, “I’m not sure if I heard you correctly. Did you say [this] or [not this]?”  She almost always corrected herself (and also thought it was her idea to do so).  It was annoying to have to be so careful with my words, but it was better than being on the receiving end of one of her fits.

Readers – how would you have handled the meeting, and how would you handle working for this supervisor (at least until you could get a transfer)?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 11 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: Do I Have To Give A Reason For Quitting?

images-122Dear Evil Skippy:

I gave my notice at my present job verbally.  They asked me to put it in writing, so I did.  Then they asked me to write it again and include the reason that I am resigning. I know I am being petty, but management here is not very respectful toward employees and I don’t want to say anything other than my last day of work.  Now they are telling me that I am required to state a reason. Is that true?

–  Off To A Better World

Dear Off:

Tell them you’re quitting because management is pushy and asks too many questions.  But why do you care?  What are they going to do? Fire you?

Therein lies your answer  — get fired.  (Notice how I effortlessly used “therein”? That’s what a law degree can do for you.)  Tell your management that you will not state a reason and, since they say it is required to give one, you assume that you have now been terminated.  Then ask about severance and unemployment benefits. 

–  Evil Skippy

As gratifying as paybacks may be, gracious exits are always the best choice.  You never know who knows who and word gets around.  You are not legally required to give a reason for resigning, although most employers would like to know. It sounds as though you were not a fan of your current place of employment.  Why would it hurt you to tell them the reasons the job stunk? Think of it as doing a small favor to future employees.  It’s possible that your information (or the accumulation of similar stories) will motivate someone with good business sense to address the work environment’s problems. You’re not doing it for your lame management — you are doing it for the poor suckers who come after you.

Still, it is strictly a personal choice. If you don’t want to explain, then don’t.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 10 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: How Many Times Do I Have To Tell A Co-Worker To Stop Flirting?

images-121Dear Evil Skippy:

How many times do I have to tell a co-worker to stop flirting with me before it counts as harassment?

–  Tired Of Saying No

Dear Tired:

There is a simple formula to calculate the answer to your question.  Take the square root of your co-worker’s age and multiply it by the number of times he or she has flirted at you.  Divide that number by the second digit of your own age.  (If you only have one digit in your age, your employer is violating child labor laws; if it has three digits, I’d think you’d be rejoicing to still be a stud or babe magnet).  Finally, add the last number you came up with to pi.

Now I want pie.  Crud.  There went my diet.

Back to the formula.  Now you have the final number.  Is your number higher than zero? Then you have told your co-worker to stop enough times.  Is your number zero or lower?  Then you need to learn some math skills.

To stop the flirting, write the number from your calculations and the word “NO!!” on a rock. The next time your co-worker flirts, throw it at the flirter.

–  Evil Skippy

Depending on what your co-worker is doing, one or two requests to stop would usually be enough.  If a person does not get the message after a clear request, it’s time to talk to H.R. or your supervisor.  I say once or twice is “usually” enough because there are some things a coworker should know not to do even without being told.  For instance, no one should grope you in the hallway whether or not you say “No!”

If you’ve told your co-worker to stop flirting and he or she continued to flirt, don’t throw anything.  Talk to your boss or another manager.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 9 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Employee Feels Harassed Because Co-Workers Like “Cosmos”

images-120Dear Evil Skippy:

I have a supervisory dilemma.  Two of the people who I supervise are fans of the new series, “Cosmos”, and they talk about it a lot during breaks.  Another person who I supervise thinks the show is a travesty because it ignores religious views about evolution. My employee complained to me that she was treated in a hostile manner because the other employees said rude things to her.  I looked into it and determined that the other employees told her that they did not want to talk about the show with her at all because “she ignored established scientific facts”.  The complaining employee says this is the same as saying her beliefs are stupid and that is why she is complaining.  She wants an apology, but I told her that I disagreed.  No one said anything rude, they just said they did not want to talk about the subject with her any longer.  Now the employee has submitted a harassment complaint to H.R. alleging that I am promoting an anti-religion campaign.  How can I convince my employee that I am not against her religion or anyone else’s?

–  Supervisor

Dear Supervisor:

You could convert. Of course, that strategy is fraught with peril.  If you don’t select your employee’s religion, she will still think you are against her.  If you do pick hers, then some other employees will think you are against theirs.  If you throw up your hands and announce you don’t believe anything, they will all be mad except for the atheists.  Who knew religion could cause such disagreement and hard feeling?

Oh yeah.  The entire world. 

Instead of trying to convince your employee that you are not opposed to her religion, why don’t you try to convince her you are only opposed to her stupidity about the meaning and reach of your company’s anti-harassment policy? 

–  Evil Skippy

Unless you do want to get in trouble, don’t imply that anyone who reports to you is stupid.  That’s rude, whether or not it is accurate.  Your employee needs to be educated about your policy and its reach, but consult with your H.R. manager before doing anything at this stage since you have been named in a complaint and now need to avoid doing anything that might appear to be retaliation.  (Implying that your employee is stupid would count).

By the way, based on the little you told me it seems that you handled this situation well.  You listened to your employee’s concerns, looked into them and then reported back to her about your conclusions.  This employee was not going to be happy unless you did exactly what she wanted, but since she is in the wrong here there was no way you could do that.

Good luck.  Readers – do you have any advice to share with Supervisor?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

evilskippy@evilskippyatwo[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 8 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Employee Complained About The Phrase “Don’t Beat A Dead Horse”

images-119Dear Evil Skippy:

Archie McPhee’s comment to today’s [ES: now yesterday’s] post reminded me of a crazy complaint that I had when I supervised a clerical group last year.  She was an animal lover and she objected when someone used the phrase “don’t beat a dead horse”.  She continued to be militantly PC about words and regularly complained that it was a hostile environment because of the inhumane attitude toward animals.  She quit to accept a job at an animal shelter so the problem went away – but how could I have gotten her to stop complaining?

–  Wondering

Dear Wondering:

I’m a fan of classic movies and would have tried something like the classic gesture in this clip from The Godfather.  

–  Evil Skippy

How nice for you that your problem fixed itself.  You still have one problem – YOU.  As a supervisor, you need to know how to put a stop to non-complaints like this.  My advice from a 2010 post, Dear Evil Skippy: My Employee Won’t Stop Complaining, still applies.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
Apr 7 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My H.R. Manager Thinks I Have A Poor Attitude About Diversity

images-118Dear Evil Skippy:

The company where I work has “Celebrate Diversity” week every year.  Right on schedule, the human resources manager sent out a mass email asking us for ideas for special events.  In the past we’ve had special lunches, guest speakers and receptions.  I submitted my suggestion that instead of spending money on diversity week, we use it to fix up the employee lunchroom.  (We need a new refrigerator and better chairs that don’t wobble would be wonderful).  The H.R. Manager complained to my boss and my boss then talked to me about my “poor attitude”.  I’m insulted and annoyed, but not sure if I should say anything.  Do you think I displayed a poor attitude?

–  Practical

Dear Practical:

The only “poor” thing here is your company’s appliance and furniture budget.  How can you celebrate diversity when your tuna salad doesn’t stay cold and your chair is tipping over?

Let’s teach your H.R. Manager a little lesson.  Knock over a lunchroom chair and sprawl yourself next to it with a few blobs of tuna salad on your face.  Old tuna salad.  Moan until someone notices you and when they rush to your aid, mutter these words: “The refrigerator turned the tuna into poison . . . I tried to steady myself and the chair collapsed . . . Call the OSHA people before it’s too late . . .”  Then faint.

–  Evil Skippy

If anyone here has a bad attitude, it’s your H.R. manager.  How rude to jump to conclusions about you without even talking to you.  Your only possible mistake was one of logic.  Old refrigerators and unsteady furniture don’t exactly scream “diversity”, so why link your suggestion to diversity week? As ES implies, you should have waited for Safety Week when your suggestion could have been ways to avoid food poisoning and bodily injuries and/or back pain.

Right or wrong, your H.R. Manager thinks you have an attitude problem so why not take some simple steps to change his or her mind?  Send a quick message to him or her with a copy to your boss that says something like this:

My supervisor talked to me about your concern and I realized that I gave you the wrong impression.  I wasn’t suggesting that we do away with Diversity Week – I just thought it would be great if we came up with ideas that did not have a budgetary impact and then use the money saved on things that would benefit everyone.  I thought it would be a win-win to have both great diversity events and some office improvements that we could use all year and attribute to the diversity program.

Also, good luck with your lunch.

Readers – what would you advise “Practical”?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

Share on Facebook and Twitter:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon