Supervisor asks me to rat out my coworker

Question:

“Stacey” and I share an office. She constantly complains about our supervisor, the amount of work he gives her and how “she didn’t “sign up for boot camp.”

When I first started in this department, I had sympathy for Stacey.  I worried about being transferred into “Jon’s” department because I’d heard from others that he was a “slave driver.”

Jon loaded me up with work; but it isn’t more than I can handle. Also, when he shovels too many assignments too quickly at me, I ask him “which other priorities do I need to temporary push aside so I can handle these new ones?” Then he tells me what to work on first and let me catch up on my workload.

I tried telling Stacey she could do the same thing, that he just needed her to let him know. She rolled at me and said Jon gets angry when she tells him how backed up she is and she has so much work to do she can’t do a good job on any of it.  Now, I just nod when she talks, but I notice she had plenty of time to surf the Internet, text her friends and work on her online paralegal courses so she can “get out of this crap job.”

When Jon comes into our office area and sees Stacey on her cell, he asks, “What are you working on?”  Stacey then looks indignant and snaps back with some version of, “I only picked up my cell two seconds ago. My husband’s letting me know he’ll be late picking me up this evening and to not wait on the street but stay in the lobby. Sorry!”

Jon isn’t stupid. He knows Stacy is scamming him. He tries to handle it by handing her a new assignment and saying, “I need this project completed by 2 p.m.” As soon as he leaves, Stacy turns to me and complains that Jon is mean and doesn’t “get” that everyone needs a moment now and again.

I’m sick of both of them.

Two weeks ago and also last Thursday, Jon pulled me aside and asked, “Does Stacey spend much time on her cell?” I didn’t want to get pulled into their drama and so just said, “I haven’t paid much attention.” I wish Jon would do his job and not except me to rat out a coworker.

Answer:

You already play a role in Stacy’s “mean supervisor/abused employee” drama. She has cast you and potentially others as “sympathizer”.

You maintain this role by shielding her and turning yourself into a person who doesn’t speak the truth. What is wrong with answering “yes” when your supervisor asks you an honest question?

If you don’t enjoy your current role in this drama, rewrite the script. When Stacy next turns to you, admit you’re tired of covering for her. Let her know you have no intention of outing her, but Jon is onto her and you’re done with lying.

Meanwhile, Jon needs to step to the plate. It’s time he pulls Stacy into his office, without you, and tells her to put her cell away. If she can’t, he needs to hire another employee like you, who can interact with a supervisor who expects a lot and not one who plays victim games.

Finally, Stacey potentially created Jon’s “slave driver” reputation. Be careful doesn’t trash you to others.

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions.” Curry is President of Communication Works Inc.  Send your questions to her at lynnewriter10@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.

 

One thought on “Supervisor asks me to rat out my coworker

  1. Here is an all-too-common example of supervisor challenge. In this case, indeed it is passed time for the supervisor to bring Stacey into the office to 1) give clear instruction about the use if personal cell phones at work, and 2) to coach Stacey in the use of key phrases to use when asking for help prioritizing. It is best that coaching comes from the supervisor, and this positive coaching should be an integral part of any progressive discipline. Perhaps Stacey’s frustrations can be alleviated with this new skill and her performance improve. Even if she asks for help prioritizing in a passive-aggressive manner at first, she may begin to experience relief with priorities clearly communicated. It’s worth a try, and what can it hurt? The supervisor gains practice clarifying instructions and coaching, the employee gains experience communicating clearly, and it just may improve the situation all-around.

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