General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

When you overhear two managers complaining about you (UPDATE Post #28)

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In one way, Zilla, I think you are right when you say it was unfortunate she overheard them. It likely won't help her keep her job even if she changes her approach and her attitude. However, the good part is that if she is willing she can take some lessons from this incident, channel them productively, and go into her next job, hopefully one with a genuine future at a good company, and emerge with a high level of professionalism. Lemons into lemonade.


--- Quote from: Zilla on January 26, 2013, 05:44:20 PM ---
--- Quote from: oceanus on January 26, 2013, 05:25:38 PM ---
--- Quote from: Zilla on January 26, 2013, 05:10:34 PM ---
--- Quote from: oceanus on January 26, 2013, 04:56:46 PM ---Another thing she could have done (and none of us mentioned it) is to have backed up, walked away, and come back later to deliver the mail.   In other words, not let them know she heard them

As far as her proving them right re: the criticism that she takes everything personally – well, they WERE talking about her, and the remarks were negative.  How was she supposed to take it?  ???

I also think they just don’t like her (for whatever reasons) and they want her gone.  Otherwise, later that day or the next day she would have been called in and spoken to about specific performance problems and she would have a chance to improve.  It doesn’t look like that is going to happen.

--- End quote ---
Certainly not by eavesdropping and then confronting them vaguely by asking if there is a problem with her.  I am not saying she did it on purpose but you definitely don't confront them as she did and prove their very complaint.  You instead make an appointment with the boss privately and ask how to better improve.

--- End quote ---

Again, one of the complaints was that she takes things too personally.

I'm confused here - I'm not asking what she should NOT have done; we've discussied that.

What I'm asking is how should she have taken it (the negative remarks)?   Impersonally? As a compliment? ??? ???

--- End quote ---

In my original post I said she should have taken it to heart and examine her own actions and think about if she is indeed taking everything too personally.  That isn't a trait that is professional and there might or might not be a grain of truth to it.  In the end, these weren't mere coworkers, but her bosses.  They do have a right to discuss her and wonder if perhaps it's only one of them that notices this.  It's very unfortunate that she overheard them.

--- End quote ---

I agree with zilla. I think she could still have taken on board the comments and adjusted her behaviour accordingly, without being confrontational and further confirming their idea of her as over sensitive.

Personally may not be the best word, since as you point out, they aren't meant about employees in general.  I think that when they say personally, what they mean is either she gets defensive or offended to the point where the opportunity for a discussion about how to improve is lost.

For example, if someone says that a report is sloppy, taking it to mean you're sloppy and responding along the lines of no, I'm not sloppy, I am always careful or no, it's great, I don't know how you can say that would be examples of what I would call taking it personally.  A better approach would be to say, I'm sorry that it wasn't what you wanted, can you give me some examples of things that need revision and how you'd like them revised. That opens up a conversation along the lines of this wasn't spell checked, I think some of the wording is awkward, etc. 

Another example might be if someone says you take feedback badly.  If the response is no I don't or I can't believe you'd think that one might refer to it as taking it personally even though it's not the best word.  A better response would be, I'm sorry I gave that impression, I do value your feedback.  Can you give me examples so that I will have the opportunity to improve.  If you honestly believe the comment isn't justified, you could add, I do value your feedback and do my best to take action on it, for example, when you told me XYZ, I did ABC to improve. 

In this case, if she absolutely felt that she had to respond, she could have said, "I couldn't help but overhearing the end of your coversation and am sorry to hear that you think I take things too personally.  Can we set up some time to talk through some examples and ways I might improve".  Although she would have to admit to overhearing the conversation, at least it states a willingness to change.   

Well, the axe fell.

I received an email.  Yesterday morning Susie was called into the conference room.  HR manager and also the Executive Director were there.  She said HR manager said things aren’t working out, that it took her too long to complete tasks, and also said several people had complained about her defensive attitude.  Executive Director nodded and said it boiled down to Susie not having the skill set they needed for the job.

Susie said she felt the backlog of work and lack of basic training  (instructions) contributed to her inability to complete tasks in a timely manner.  She also mentioned the incident where she had heard negative comments about her, and that upon asking she had been told nothing was wrong.  This seemed to irritate HR manager, who said something along the lines of “not seeing any point in dredging up last week”.  She was asked for her keys and was told she would be paid thru the end of the day.  She was given a termination letter which didn’t state the reasons – just explained her pay and the termination of benefits.

She said she’s refiled for unemployment and also that she intends to (re)register next week with a temp agency that she worked with a while back, and of course continue to look for another job.

I'm sorry your friend lost her job.  Aside from the reasons it may of happened, it's still a difficult thing to have happen.

I hope she will find new employment soon.


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