I need some unbiased advice. I’ve been a supervisor for about six months, and I’ve been under the impression I was doing a decent job. My employees haven’t given me any reason to think otherwise. If anything, they’ve been nothing but respectful and nice to my face, but I’ve just learned it’s all been a bunch of bull. Two of them didn’t know I was in a stall when they came into the office bathroom. They literally shredded me for just about everything, from what they perceive to be my lack of decisiveness and ability to lead to making fun of the way I dress and talk. I’m not only blown away but very hurt. Obviously, none of the nice things they’ve said about having me as their boss have been honest. What should I do? Keep it in the vault or confront them on it?
Unexpected negative criticism
Dear Unexpected negative criticism:
First, it is important for you to realize there is a tendency, call it human nature, for employees to complain about their bosses, whether warranted or not. Second, so much depends on what your intended endgame is. And third, no matter how you address this particular situation, there is no guarantee the griping behind your back will stop. If there is no truth to their criticism concerning your work style or if there is truth to it and you want to improve, you can address their comments without saying a word to them. But if you want them to know you are aware of their conversation, regardless of its merit, I recommend you approach them without any anger or malice. Let them know their comments stung but you recognize the importance of feedback, so in the future, you want them to come to you when they have a complaint so it can be addressed constructively.
I’m a recent law school graduate and I’ve passed the bar, but I’m not getting any job offers. I want to go the traditional route and practice law in a law firm. My mom met a prominent attorney at her gym and he offered to help me out. I sent him my resume and spoke to him over the phone. He asked a few questions about my clerkships and interests and said he was going to shop my resume around to the firms that are hiring. That was over three weeks ago, and I haven’t heard anything from him. I don’t want to tick him off but I’d like an update. How do you think I should handle this?
Unsure about follow-up
Dear Unsure about follow-up:
I must preface my response with the point that it is not unusual for people to make such offers and not follow-through. Your desire not to irritate this person is understandable, but three weeks is a fair amount of time to respectfully ask for an update. I suggest you send him an email asking if he has anything to report and requesting the names of the firms he has contacted so you do not approach them. Emphasize your appreciation of his offer to help you, your understanding of how busy he is, and your interest in knowing both the positive and negative feedback he may have received. You may not get a response; his response may be vague; or it does not answer any of your questions, which could mean he did not do anything or he feels uncomfortable giving you negative feedback. But, if he does respond, no matter what he says, send him a thank you reply. Even if he has not had the time to do anything, let him know you appreciate the update. And if he indicates he has made some effort, no matter how small, send him a brief handwritten thank you note as well. This gesture may motivate him to do more, and if he has received negative responses, it may prompt him to give you the constructive criticism you need to hear.
Above all else, no matter how much help this attorney or anyone else may offer, do not let it decrease or slow down your efforts. You will always be your biggest ally. Best of luck!
© 2013 Rozanne R. Worrell