A reader writes:
I work in a restaurant. I’ve been there for years and am half front of house staff, and half supervisor (which is like a mini-manager), and I have a really great relationship with one of my managers, who has been at this location almost as long as I have but with the company for many more. Between years spent working together and my status as a supervisor, she trusts me with a lot of information and behaviors that a manager normally wouldn’t share with an hourly.
Recently I’ve become concerned about her behavior/attitude at work, and I’m wondering if it’d be appropriate for me to say something to her about it. She’s very unhappy with the general manager and is actively searching for new employment, and I think she’s mentally checked out and it’s starting to show, at least to me. It’s not been uncommon for a closing manager and the remaining staff to grab a drink once or twice a month at our closed bar and just write it off as “spillage,” but she’s been honoring this occasional tradition alarmingly often. Examples being: pouring a little Bailey’s in her coffee every single night after we’ve closed, giving free drinks to her boyfriend who comes in once or twice a week, offering me the opportunity to have a drink myself every single night. I think she only does this around myself, and maybe one other hourly who has a similar relationship with her. I don’t think she does this with my other coworkers.
I’m worried that she’s gotten careless and apathetic, and that it’s going to cost her her job if her boss finds out. I like my manager very much, and don’t want to see things end up badly for her, but I don’t know if I should say anything about my concerns, or if I should, how I should approach it.
If you’re close enough to her that you feel comfortable with this, you could say something like, “I’m worried about you. I know that you’re unhappy here and not getting along with Bob, but I’m worried that you’re putting yourself in jeopardy by letting it show, and especially with using the bar more than before. I don’t want you to get in trouble, and I’m worrying that you might. Is there anything I can do to help?”
But aside from letting her know that her behavior has changed and that you’re worried about her, I’m not sure there’s much you can do. It’s kind to give someone a heads-up when their disgruntlement is showing in ways that might harm them, and it’s kind to express concern about her well-being … but from there, it’s really up to her.
(I’ll also add that if she’s the type of person to penalize you for saying this, then unfortunately you’re probably better off not speaking up.)
And don’t take her up on those offers for nightly drinks.