0

I work in retail. We recently got a new manager. She has a very difficult job as she already is a manager of another store and is almost never here in person. When I was not at work she called me saying she "got information from staff today that I've been saying unkind things about her". I asked her to elaborate. She said she heard from a co-worker that I've been saying she's "bad at her job, bad at communicating and bad at responding to messages". I told her something must have been misinterpreted. She said she believes me. She also said it's up to me if I want to escalate this to head office but then everyone's names would be involved (I don't even understand what this means). I pointed out that I felt the timing was strange as I just got back from a 4 day vacation and today worked alone. So there was not even a chance of gossip with coworkers. This is a very small team in the first place and this had made me suspicious. I know my past questions have focused on negative aspects of the team (after all, I wouldn't post a question unless there's a problem) but currently all of the people I work with on a daily bases I get along well with. (one quit, one was fired, the other I just don't get scheduled with much)

Are the claims true? They are rather vague and general, but on the whole, no I haven't been bad mouthing her. Now, it is a fact that out of my past 30 messages I sent to her, she has responded to 2. I asked the other coworkers if they experienced this and they said yes. There have also been multiple things she said she would do and hasn't. Even in the phone call itself:

At the end of the call I told her that we can discuss it further in our in person meeting we had scheduled for tomorrow. She told me that the meeting may not happen as another co-worker is having a meeting with her. I was really looking forward to the meeting because 1) I value at least some face-to-face communication with management and 2) for weeks she said she would be training me on new responsibilities which I would like to get.

Questions

  1. regarding the "bad mouthing" should I follow up in anyway or just forget about it unless its brought up again?
  2. would it have been better to flat out deny the claims as opposed to saying something I said was misinterpreted?
  3. In these types of allegations, is it fair to ask for specifics and should the manager give them?
  4. Is it fair to ask who made the claim and should the manager give the name?
  5. The whole point of the call was about open communication. Should I tell her I don't like having our meeting canceled? Should I phrase it as "is there something urgent about the other meeting that we can't stick with our plan?"
  6. Is there any explanation aside from sabotage why someone would go out of the way to tell the manager this (whether true or not)?
  7. Was it unprofessional to be contacted about this while not at work? Should I tell her not to do it again?
  8. How should I bring up not getting enough replies to my messages?
2
  • Rest assured, I'm much more delicate and diplomatic in person than on this anonymous website Aug 15 '21 at 10:37
  • 3
    "all of the people I work with on a daily [basis] I get along well with" <- does that include the ones who have felt the need to bring up your behaviour with your manager? Perhaps consider that their view of your working relationship may be different from yours. Aug 15 '21 at 10:47
7
  1. regarding the "bad mouthing" should I follow up in anyway or just forget about it unless its brought up again?

If the manager believes you, what's the harm done? I'd just be careful who you talk to about things going forward.

  1. would it have been better to flat out deny the claims as opposed to saying something I said was misinterpreted?

If there is some truth to it, it's probably better off you saying it was misinterpreted.

  1. In these types of allegations, is it fair to ask for specifics and should the manager give them?

Well, you should have asked exactly what was said before you denied you said it. Everyone has a different opinion about what "bad-mouthing" is.

  1. Is it fair to ask who made the claim and should the manager give the name?

You can ask, but the manager would be an absolute idiot to tell you. They are responsible for their workers working together harmoniously. This does not further that goal.

  1. The whole point of the call was about open communication. Should I tell her I don't like having our meeting canceled? Should I phrase it as "is there something urgent about the other meeting that we can't stick with our plan?"

You're upset about a cancelled meeting. I think you need to get over it. You don't get to question the priorities of your manager. The content of the other meeting is between your manager and the other co-worker. It could be about anything. You should certainly ask to reschedule though.

  1. Is there any explanation aside from sabotage why someone would go out of the way to tell the manager this (whether true or not)?

In the space of 4 months you've posted 13 questions, a lot of which where you've criticized your coworkers and your manager. I would absolutely not be surprised if what you post here is just the tip of the iceberg, and your coworkers are attempting devious means in order to get rid of you. You seem to be someone that just doesn't seem to "fit in" with this particular workplace.

In any case, it also could have been a misunderstanding. Or the coworker may have been using you to voice their own concerns by proxy.

  1. Was it unprofessional to be contacted about this while not at work? Should I tell her not to do it again?

You can tell your boss whatever you want. They can also tell you you're fired. Consider carefully if the minor inconvenience of being contacted on your day off stacks up to being unemployed.

  1. How should I bring up not getting enough replies to my messages?

Are you sure NOW is a good time to do this?

-3
  1. regarding the "bad mouthing" should I follow up in anyway or just forget about it unless its brought up again?

Yes, you need to follow up for two reasons:

  1. She is giving you an opportunity to clear the air.
  2. She is trying to preempt the situation from escalating (and rightly protecting herself too if things become messy) and that's why she added - "She also said it's up to me if I want to escalate this to head office but then everyone's names would be involved..."

How you put across your points matters though, because it does seem you have publicly been critical of her "shortcomings" (as you perceive it). We all do crib about our bosses occasionally, and sometime even make fun of them but that's normal and not really bad mouthing someone. Bad mouthing indicates an underlying level of animosity directed at someone.

So you have to explicitly make it clear to her that you have no animosity or negative feelings against her, and do respect her professionally as a boss. And that you will correct your professional lapse of not thinking about the consequences of discussiong your professional relationship with her openly with other colleagues.

  1. would it have been better to flat out deny the claims as opposed to saying something I said was misinterpreted?

Since you have already said that things might have been misinterpreted, no, a flat out denial of the accusation will reflect badly on you.

You can be honest that you have discussed your professional relationships with her with other colleagues, as everyone does. But such discussions were never negative or intended to attack her reputation. And that you are really troubled and sorry that someone is trying to twist and misconstrue this as you trying to bad mouth her professionally, especially when you share a good and healthy professional relationship with her.

  1. In these types of allegations, is it fair to ask for specifics and should the manager give them?

Depending on her response to 2, you can choose to dig deeper and ask what was specifically said, so that you can offer clarification. But be short and prudent with your clarifications. The manager can of course choose not to share the specifics with you. I would actually advise against digging into the specific as I am afraid you may dig yourself deeper trying to clarify and end up looking bad (question 8 seems to suggest that).

  1. Is it fair to ask who made the claim and should the manager give the name?

You can ofcourse ask, and even make it a point to add that you suspect this person of having other ulterior motives in making such a complain anonymously. Obviously the manager can choose not to reveal this info.

  1. The whole point of the call was about open communication. Should I tell her I don't like having our meeting canceled? Should I phrase it as "is there something urgent about the other meeting that we can't stick with our plan?"

If the manager wants some space, give it to them. But make it a point to your manager persistently but diplomatically that you do want to discuss this at some point. Do so doggedly until the manager gives you an opportunity to do so and / or tells you pointedly that she considers the matter closed.

  1. Is there any explanation aside from sabotage why someone would go out of the way to tell the manager this (whether true or not)?

If I have a good professional and personal relationship with my boss, I definitely would bring it to their attention, discreetly, that someone has been critical of them (or is bad mouthing them). While I wouldn't do it deliberately out of professional rivalry with a colleague, or even lie or exaggerate about these things to gain some brownie points with my boss, unfortunately there are some people who do think that such kind of cut throat politics at work are acceptable and necessary to advance. If your boss doesn't tell you who the person is, just let go of it as your energy is better spent on your work.

  1. Was it unprofessional to be contacted about this while not at work? Should I tell her not to do it again?

No, absolutely not. Rather, think about it this way - your boss considered it an important enough matter to discuss it with you while you are not at work. So treat it as an important issue. Please always consider the context of the issue before thinking like this - you are being accused of maligning your boss. Obviously the boss is going to be really concerned, especially if she feels the situation may escalate. So rather than reacting with a sense of entitlement, make it a point to thank your boss for bringing this to your immediate attention so that it could be resolved properly!

  1. How should I bring up not getting enough replies to my messages?

This has nothing to do with your current issues. Don't bring it up now and make it a part of it. Question 7 & 8 make me wonder whether you want to escalate this issue and use this opportunity to share and highlight all your criticism about your boss in the open. I feel it would be ill-advisable to do so.

Focus. Your job is to make your boss' job easier.

If your boss doesn't reply to your messages, than find some other way to get a reply - some people hate emails, some people prefer to verbally communicate, while some people are just poor communicators. Find a creative way to work around such hurdles.

(If you are downvoting kindly include a comment on what you think is wrong or what you disagree in my answer so that the answer can be improved. Or feel free to edit my answer so that we can collaborate, as stackexchange is designed to.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .