A reader writes:
I’m having a problem with my manager. I work at a convenience store to help put me through college. She’s hated me from the start, most people say it’s out of jealousy, I learned to ignore it.
Now she is discussing my work performance online with a coworker who is not even of management position. Never once has she come to me to tell me I’m doing something wrong but she posts all these horrible things about me online saying that I screw everything up and my paperwork is always a mess! It’s on their Facebook so everyone in their network can read it and everyone in their network also are customers in the store I work at. They come in and tell me the things she says. I got online and looked and sure enough it was all there.
What should I do? This is completely unprofessional and an invasion of my privacy! No one needs to know my work performance! I feel like I’m being harassed because they are criticizing my work, I don’t even want to go into work I’m so embarrassed. I had no clue I was such a burden to everyone! What should I do? Isn’t that illegal for her to do that?
Illegal, no. Jerky and terrible management, yes.
If your manager has a problem with your performance, she’s not doing her job if she’s not discussing it with you straightforwardly. So even if she’s right and you’re having performance problems, she’s having even bigger ones by not doing her job as a manager.
And obviously, she’s being horribly unprofessional, toward you, toward the coworkers she’s talking to about you, and toward the customers (!!) who she’s sharing this with.
You should do the following:
1. Be as professional as she’s being unprofessional. Talk to her face-to-face and in private and say, “I understand that you’re unhappy with some of my work. I’d really like to hear your concerns so that I can work on whatever I need to do differently.”
2. After you’ve done #1, tell her, “I really want to have a chance to resolve these problems. Can I ask you to give your feedback to me directly and not to share it with people online? Customers have seen it and asked me about it, and I’d prefer to keep these conversations between us.”
3. Although her behavior is in no way excusable, you should still think about whether her complaints might have any validity. Is your paperwork always a mess, as she claims? Do you make a lot of mistakes? Try to divorce your anger from the substance of what she’s said and think honestly about whether there are changes that you should be making.
4. Consider going over her head and reporting her behavior to her boss or your company’s HR department. Take screenshots of some of her most outrageous posts so that you have them even if she removes them, and say that you’d like advice on talking to her about giving you feedback directly rather than publicizing it online. They will not be happy about this once they learn about it.