Would I BU to be honest with boss about her? help me through the ethical maze?

(32 Posts)
marzipanmaggie Mon 07-Nov-16 06:34:41

I work with a woman who is younger and more junior than me but more experienced in many aspects of my job because she's been there longer than I.

This woman has been passive aggressively but unmistakably hostile to me from day one, for reasons I don't fully understand but I feel have a lot to do with her resenting new people and new women in particular. Nothing major enough to take to an HR department, but a catalogue of low level put-downs, bitchery in the office and social exclusion. She has, for example, been very unwilling to allow me to socialise with herself and other (male) colleagues and makes a point of excluding me from after work drinks. She routinely makes remarks to and about me which superficially are "banter" but which are obviously more than that. When I first joined she was openly critical of the quality of my work in certain areas, in quite a harsh way, even though I was totally new to the field.

Initially I was quite intimidated by her but as I've got more experience I've come to realise that she's actually a classic example of someone who has honed a certain set of tasks to perfection and is very good at those but isn't an especially creative thinker. I increasingly resent the way she's made me feel.

More recently, when I was given more responsibility for a client account which she had previously worked with me on, she literally downed tools on the account and just refuses to have anything to do with me, as if she is goading me to put my foot down and ask her to do some work in order for her to then fire back that she won't work for me.

For a long time I have felt I basically have to suck this up, it hasn't been serious enough to justify tackling head on and its been difficult to prove, but its chipped away at my professional self-esteem at a difficult time in my life and irritated me that she had taken against me in such a significant way.

Now I've been asked by my boss to provide feedback in end of year reviews into this woman's performance.

This is a bit of a tricky ethical situation for me and I need to be very careful not to allow it to be a revenge thing for me. There are some genuine professional shortcomings she has which I think the boss has a right to know about (she routinely takes alcohol-related sick days, for example). I could also tell my boss about the recent situation where she has just refused to do any work on this particular account with me.

But I'm also aware that I'm very biased and I don't want to take random pot shots at her which will go onto her professional record for the sake of it, nor to open up a big professional rift in what is an otherwise happy office. This woman is quite vulnerable, (has eating disorders, is a very heavy drinker etc) and I don't want to do something punitive which could ruin her career out of motives which are essentially more about making myself feel better.

How should I handle this? My inclination is to say to my boss that I don't feel able to evaluate her objectively and to let my boss draw her own conclusions. I don't want to totally gloss over everything and tell the boss she is great. But I don't want to stitch her up in order to get my own back either.

TaterTots Mon 07-Nov-16 06:40:57

You can't let her personal problems dictate your feedback. This is affecting your career as well as hers. If she's already taking time off because of alcohol chances are her boss is aware of issues, so it won't be a case of 'stitching her up'. Companies have upward feedback for a reason.

Bruce02 Mon 07-Nov-16 06:43:10

If you tell your boss you can't evaluate her objectively you are essentially saying you can't out personal feelings aside to do your job.

If she is junior to you, surely this is part of your role?

It is very difficult. I would stick to fact not mention feelings. So say she has done no woke on this account. Not ' I feel she hasn't worked in x account because she doesn't like me'

Really of she is failing to do her job you should have tackled this before now. So being over critical could raise questions about your performance.

I feel your pain though. I started a new job 3 weeks ago and a woman that started the same day is very similar. She has told me gossip that makes my position sound vulnerable, told other people she and my team don't like how I work etc.

I nipped it in the bud. I spoke to my managers manager (who the rumours were about) as my manager was on annual leave. And told them straight what was going on. I also tackled her over what she said about me. Publicly.

I honestly find nasty Co workers so difficult to deliver with.

ConvincingLiar Mon 07-Nov-16 06:44:48

You do sound capable of giving objective feedback. Make sure you address whatever positives there are too so that its balanced.

SailingThroughTime Mon 07-Nov-16 06:45:58

Stick to the facts and point out ant positives you can find as well as any negatives.

ChuckGravestones Mon 07-Nov-16 06:48:29

I would go and see the boss of her and ask them why they had asked me, had they picked up on tensions or was it a result of the joint project? I would say that I hadn't been impressed that she had been doing the low level stuff, refused to work with me, deliberately engages in inappropriate 'banter' that makes myself and others feel uncomfortable and because she refused to work on the joint project, downed tools so to speak, it was not going to be a particularly good report and if that what the boss wanted then it would be my pleasure.

Domino20 Mon 07-Nov-16 06:52:38

You have honest concerns, (sick days due to alcohol and refusal to cooperate in working on a project together) voice them. As for the other issues (freezing you out of work drinks/her eating disorder) I'm sure you are not the only one to notice these things and most people find bitchiness distasteful. Leave her to it!

BabyJakeHatersClub Mon 07-Nov-16 06:54:19

Why can't you write an objective report? As long as everything is factual and can be proved (within reason) I don't see what the problem is.

If you aren't able to provide info for her performance review then I'd be unimpressed as your boss to say the least. The only reason I'd accept for this would be related or ex-related (divorced).

Are you sure the sick days have been alcohol related? If you aren't 100% sure then I'd shut up about that. I would mention the refusal to work with you. I would mention unprofessional comments / banter. I would mention it if she's creating a divisive atmosphere at the school.

Her eating and drinking issues have nothing to do with you (ignoring provably related absences) so don't take pity on her. Your onl;y concern is her performance at work and remember, you're senior to her. You're paid more for a more difficult job and part of that can be dividing professional and personal.

BabyJakeHatersClub Mon 07-Nov-16 06:55:19

edit:

If you aren't 100% sure then I'd shut up about not mention that.

I wasn't supposed to sound so aggressive smile

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Mon 07-Nov-16 06:58:35

I wouldn't mention alcohol related sick days. I think her general attitude and refusal to do work all very relevant and needs to be mentioned.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Mon 07-Nov-16 06:59:18

How should I handle this? My inclination is to say to my boss that I don't feel able to evaluate her objectively and to let my boss draw her own conclusions

Your boss imo would conclude that you are unable to fulfil your role.

marzipanmaggie Mon 07-Nov-16 07:00:32

Thanks all, this is very helpful.

Bruce she doesn't report to me at all, so I'm not technically required to manager her in any way.

Agree that it would not be helpful to mention the personal shortcomings to the boss, I wasn't planning to do this it was really just context as I don't want to do something which has a disproportionately harsh effect on someone who is struggling (and anyway I'm fairly sure the boss knows). In certain areas she's very good at her job.

youarenotkiddingme Mon 07-Nov-16 07:01:28

I agree you can be objective.

"X has only completed y towards the project and is risking falling behind her deadline"

"X has had 5 Monday's off sick in 6 months" (you can't mention alcohol unless she's actually rung in sick with a hangover but you can highlight patterns.)

"X is a very social able person and seems to be popular amongst het colleagues however this can have an affect on her output" then suggest a way for her to improve this.

topcat2014 Mon 07-Nov-16 07:06:03

I would hate to work in this kind of setup. What a horrendous way of buck passing.

And, everyone is supposed to be nicey nicey, so that bosses think there are no problems?

Sod that - if you don't have any good comments to make don't invent any.
Stick to facts - but if they are all a bit shit then so be it.

Bruce02 Mon 07-Nov-16 07:07:17

Bruce she doesn't report to me at all, so I'm not technically required to manager her in any way.

Do you know why you have ebeen asked to do this report?

You say she is more junior than you, so how does it work on this account you are working on?

topcat2014 Mon 07-Nov-16 07:07:41

Of course employers should be careful what they wish for!

In a previous job we had 'employee engagement' surveys. Mandatory to complete.

Then HR got all huffy that the majority had put the company was a bit shit to work for!

Six months later it closed in the UK.

HighDataUsage Mon 07-Nov-16 07:10:00

also remember that if the situation was reversed then your toxic colleague wouldn't have any qualms about giving 'honest' feedback about you. You have had lots of good advice here op good luck with it. Rise above the bitchiness and be absolutely professional.

Yakari Mon 07-Nov-16 07:14:48

Keep a balance between good and bad - you have mentioned she has both.Even if she gives you a bad peer review - yours should ooze professionalism. If in doubt draft it and ask someone independent to look at it.

Personally I'd not mention the sick days - you aren't her manager but you could mention any impact the days off had on your project t/client. Your boss will work it out.

RandomMcRandomface Mon 07-Nov-16 07:18:38

First of all, I think that you seem to be very mature about what must be a terrible situation for you - having been there myself, I really do sympathize.

I think that you should give feedback, and recommend it goes as follows:

- Her strengths are [insert clear strengths that are already known about/the area of the job she is niche in] Things you could say here are: shows experience in xyz area; delivered x project on time etc - am sure you can find something as simple as 'appreciate the baking she brings' or 'cultivates a positive relationship with some of the team' even if it is grasping at straws

- But in terms of constructive feedback, she would benefit from: [Insert a maximum of four things you really want to raise]. Ideas could be: would benefit from revising her tried-and-true approaches to problems to enable more versatility and creative solutions --coporate wankery alert--; is inconsisnent in her approach to working with others; is patch protective in a way which may undermine the efficiency and morale of others.

I think that as long as you say the positive, you will be heard when you say the negative stuff. And I know it can be hard to think of positive things but it really does give the negative feedback more impact if you appear balanced

lasttimeround Mon 07-Nov-16 07:28:50

You sound pretty balanced and also aware of where you may have clouded judgement due to her bwing a cow to you.
I'd tackle the work points first and tag on that you are finding it difficult to get on with her and that in turn is excluding you from other colleagues. Make clear your theory thixotropic is about her resenting you as a newcomer and seek your managers advice on how to handle her. Bet she has form already and they know it.

moreslackthanslick Mon 07-Nov-16 07:38:21

She sounds a nightmare but I'd leave the alcohol related sick days comment out of it. Unless she actually rings up and says she has a raging hangover or something.?

DrQuinzel Mon 07-Nov-16 07:48:00

I worked with someone like this a few years ago when I was freshly qualified. On an average day the entire team was expected to report to me, but she made it hell.

I always asked for the teams opinions and often changed my plans based on their suggestions and I respected their knowledge/experience. However she would purposely disagree with everything I said whilst offering no constructive advice. She would make spiteful remarks and basically left me feeling inadequate and scared. Every time she would take a shot at me, someone would notice and tell me not to worry, she was just set in her ways etc but it got to the point that patient safety was often compromised (as would be my professional registration). I decided to leave, and upon my exit interview told the manager everything that had been happening.

Apparently he already knew and didn't say anything as he was afraid of upsetting anyone hmm

I think it's very important that you vocalise where she is impacting the team professionally i.e. Refusing to work for/with you.

Good luck, I know how horrible is it flowers

shovetheholly Mon 07-Nov-16 07:54:56

I think she sounds very insecure and threatened. I would be honest with your boss - be really glowing about the things she is good at (without resentment) but say that she appears to have issues with team work and cooperation, and that more training in this area might be beneficial.

Littledrummergirl Mon 07-Nov-16 07:57:52

In my workplace the view is that a colleague evaluation should be reaffirming feedback that has already been given. Nothing should come as a surprise as a good manager will be tackling issues as they arrive.

Make sure that you provide factual information with evidence, preferably that has been fed back to colleague or your manager already.

myfavouritecolourispurple Mon 07-Nov-16 08:29:37

Evidence is key. So make a general comment and then an example to back it up.

I remember a boss saying something about me years ago (negative) and when I asked for an example he wouldn't or couldn't give one. It undermines your credibility. So examples, examples examples. Lots of good advice above.

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