To confront my colleague via text?

(53 Posts)
YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 16:30:58

I am a teacher and we have just broken up for the holidays. I have got promotion from September to be head of my faculty- am chuffed and can't wait to start and the majority of my colleagues have been incredibly supportive and pleased for me. However, I have one colleague who is very cold and reserved with me, rarely approaches me even about things that I am currently in charge of. She is ten years younger than me but excellent at her job, although it has been noted that she lacks empathy.

Anyway, today at the pub after school finished, we were discussing the current head of faculty, who is excellent and I see as a real role model. This colleague came our with 'yes, she (current head of faculty ) is amazing and to be honest, I can't see any other head of faculty measuring up to her.'

I was so upset. The thing is, I agree with her and have even said the same myself- but I really felt as though this was a pointed comment which was directed at me and was totally unnecessary.

So WIBU to text her about it? I was so stunned at the time I didn't say anything, but feel really sad that she obviously doesn't rate me or respect me as a leader. Should I text or leave it?

squeakytoy Thu 18-Jul-13 16:32:57

very unprofessional to text her just because she isnt patting you on the back enough..

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 16:35:34

Oh sad it's not that I want patting on the back though, it's just polite to be supportive surely? There was no need to say that, she could have just kept it to herself.

TheSecondComing Thu 18-Jul-13 16:35:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flowery Thu 18-Jul-13 16:35:55

If you really feel this is something you need to "confront" her about, at least speak to the woman rather than texting her. Heads of things don't sort out issues with colleagues by text, and by doing so you will be confirming her opinions.

headlesslambrini Thu 18-Jul-13 16:37:07

Nah leave it. You will only cause resentment in sept. Forget about it for now and prove to her by your actions that you can be good as well.

Stropzilla Thu 18-Jul-13 16:37:37

I would leave it. It's a bit tough luck for her isn't it! Either she is jealous of you and wants you to do badly, or it was just a thoughtless remark to communicate how much she values the previous person? I'd probably go with that last explanation. Forget it, and I'm sure you will do brilliantly and prove her wrong. Congratulations!

LIZS Thu 18-Jul-13 16:38:09

the words confront and text don't really belong together. Let it go.

NatashaBee Thu 18-Jul-13 16:38:11

I don't think texting is an appropriate way to address her comment tbh. I would just leave it and if she makes any comments in future, address them with her in person at the time.

oohdaddypig Thu 18-Jul-13 16:39:06

She is rude. But everyone else seems to be supportive. I would just move on. I don't think these things are handled well by text. Congratulations on your promotion btw.

burberryqueen Thu 18-Jul-13 16:39:23

agree with others just leave it and enjoy the break

Ragwort Thu 18-Jul-13 16:39:46

Do not send a text, totally unprofesional (am amazed you would even consider it as Head of Faculty hmm). Leave it, start the new term and treat her normally and professionally when you return.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Thu 18-Jul-13 16:42:04

Please do not test her or confront her. That is totally unprofessional

If you must discuss it (which I advise you don't). Set up a meeting.

However, tactless as it was - she hasn't actually done anything wrong. Merely given her opinion. She hasn't done it in front

Gobbolinothewitchscat Thu 18-Jul-13 16:43:10 front of parents or children, for example, and undermined you.

You need to develop a management personality where the unsubstantiated views

Phineyj Thu 18-Jul-13 16:43:53

Leave it and enjoy proving her wrong next term.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Thu 18-Jul-13 16:43:55


Unsubstantiated views of junior colleagues are pretty irrelevant

I wouldn't do it by phone, but I think I would worry about it all summer unless I said something to her before september. Will you see her again before then? I know I would build it up in my head and be a right state come the new term if I hadn't cleared the air!

Zynding Thu 18-Jul-13 16:45:50

That is MERELY her opinion and you give it more weight if you feel the need to wade in and defend yourself.

.... recently my circumstances have changed for the better. A woman I know, who has always been quite 'pitying' in her attitude towards me for the last few years discovered my life improvements (sorry, very vague) and she said something so eyewateringly catty I was taken aback. Later I realised it's because she used to feel superior to me, now, she's not so sure.

loveisagirlnameddaisy Thu 18-Jul-13 16:46:11

Agree with everyone else. You might text a friend over a comment like this but certainly not a colleague who will be your junior come September. You just need to rise about it and accept that some people will say things about you that you don't like. The correct way to deal with it will be to say something in person at the time the comment is made - not hours/days later by text message. That's for teenagers.

loveisagirlnameddaisy Thu 18-Jul-13 16:46:26

*above it

EBearhug Thu 18-Jul-13 16:47:04

Leave it. If there's an issue with her attitude in September, then bring it up in a face to face meeting, just the two of you. But never text. But don't make a problem by expecting her to have an issue.

But 6 weeks of summer hols, there's a good chance you'll both have moved on by then.

ilovesooty Thu 18-Jul-13 16:47:21

I agree with the previous posts. I can't imagine why you would think texting a colleague to address work issues is remotely appropriate or professional. It sounds as though you have something to learn about boundaries

Also, imo too many people think text is a suitable medium for sorting personal problems. What's wrong with an adult discussion?

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 16:47:28

You are all right, IABU and will leave it alone. I think it is nerves about having to take over from someone who is so good at her job, as well as feeling sad that this colleague doesn't seem to have confidence in me as everyone else does. I struggle against the need to be a people-pleaser constantly, so I guess this is part of that.

flowery Thu 18-Jul-13 16:48:01

If you're going to be management you can't be getting upset about things like this, you're going to have to be more robust. Reality of management is that not all your colleagues/subordinates will like you, and a lot of them will think they could easily do your job. Put your mental and emotional energy into doing a good job and earning respect rather than getting upset about minor stuff like this.

oohdaddypig Thu 18-Jul-13 16:48:04

Agree zynding. Fairly unpleasant people seem to react like that. OP perhaps take her comment as a compliment?

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 16:52:39

Thanks all- fairly unanimous response there, which I will take on board and enjoy my holiday! You can always rely on AIBU to set you right smile

Groovee Thu 18-Jul-13 16:59:56

Leave it and prove her completely wrong next term.

Sparklysilversequins Thu 18-Jul-13 17:03:47

I would have laughed at that. Silly cow.

One thing I have learned and its taken a while is not everyone is going to like you. I used to be overly nice to people to try to win them over. It doesn't work, in fact ime it will push them further the other way because they will pick up on your weakness. Now I speak to them and treat them exactly the way they do to me after a couple of attempts at friendliness. Rude and abrupt? Right back at you. Ignore me when I say hi? You do not exist for me anymore.

Gives them something to think about and less chance they will see you as a push over.

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 17:05:51

Good advice sparkly, thank you. Will do my best to be an ice maiden next term!

Mumsyblouse Thu 18-Jul-13 17:13:07

I'm afraid that this type of thing goes with the territory, there's always the odd colleague who makes pointed remarks. You may come in for open criticism as well once you are Head of faculty (which is amazing, well done!) so I think I would try to practice not concerning yourself with being criticized/rising about petty bickering otherwise you are in for a rough ride. Not everyone has to like you or approve of your appointment, even if you are going to be greatsmile

SarahAndFuck Thu 18-Jul-13 17:14:39

YANBU to feel the way you do, but you would BU to text her about it.

That wouldn't go well, and if she does have issues with you then a text would reinforce them to her.

With the role you are about to fulfil, face to face will always be the better option but at this point I don't think I would say anything.

I wouldn't forget it either though, because if she keeps on making little digs or snide comments you will know it's a deliberate attempt to undermine you and you might want to make your manager aware of the issue if it becomes serious enough.

And congratulations on your promotion. You obviously are capable of doing the job well, otherwise it wouldn't have been given to you. Your boss clearly has a good opinion of you and your work, so don't let this one comment get to you. smile

TheFallenNinja Thu 18-Jul-13 17:17:31

Leave it. Your her senior now.

You haven't made in management until your name is on the back of a bog door.

ImNotBloody14 Thu 18-Jul-13 17:20:42

Well if as you suspect, she said it ti get at you, and then you text her to let it know it got to you, she'll know she's got to you! grin Dont let her know she's got to you or she'll keep on getting at you.

Sparklysilversequins Thu 18-Jul-13 17:25:49

And just so you know? Everyone dislikes the boss, no matter how fair and nice you are there will be times you have to make decisions that some or all of your staff don't like. Disliking the boss is what brings the team together, good old gossip in the staff room. You will find you stop caring in a shorter time than you ever thought possible smile.

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 17:38:40

Aw, thanks everyone! Feel better now. I knew MN was the answer smile

HabitualHobbyist Thu 18-Jul-13 17:39:04

Firstly, congratulations on your promotion! I realise that you've already reached your decision and for what it's worth, I think it's right not to text her. But as a HR bod, I couldn't read and run without offering you some support in your new role.

Taking on your first staff management role will always be challenging. Exciting and rewarding, but certainly challenging. Being promoted from within the team is even tougher as you've really got to redifine your relationships with your colleagues.

I don't say any of this to put you off, but to reassure you that if you find yourself questioning what you've done during the next 12 months (or 12 years!), this will be perfectly normal!

As a manager, you'll need to find the right balance between being compassionate and supportive, without being too pally and being able to reinforce your authority when appropriate. I would suggest, if your school doesn't recommend this already, that you ask an experienced and senior colleague (but not your manager) to act as your mentor; someone you can reflect with, check your sanity with, and learn from their mistakes.

Over your first month or so in post, I'd also sit down with all of your new team individually and talk to them about how you see your role and the team developing, and how that could impact on them. Ackowledge it will be a steep learning curve for you and that you have big boots to fill, but reinforce your position. Let them know you'll need their support but also acknowledge that you realise they will need to trust you. Don't promise things you can't deliver, don't be scared to have difficult conversations, but do handle these professionally.

I'm sure you'll be great - the fact that you're already asking for advice and taking it when it's sensible, is the most positive attribute I could ask for in a new manager. Good luck!

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 17:41:16

Thanks Habitual- much appreciated.

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 17:45:34

Are you seriously going to text her? Is this a serious question?

It shows a total lack of judgement and leadership skills for you to do any such thing.

Think about it from her position, you big doofus. She had a head of department she revered. She is losing that head of department so she will be feeling disrupted and unsettled.

Then her new head of department texts her about a comment that she made that was complimentary of the old head? Barking, utterly barking.

You win her round, that's your strategy. You work with her, you listen to her, you reassure her and you win her round.

Gosh, can see you're newly promoted! The very suggestion of texting her to confront her is bringing me out in hives. Are you a manager or not? That's what it boils down to.

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 17:56:06

I take your point Wuldric, but have you read the thread? I have already realised the error of my ways and decided not to text. Haven't you ever had an impulsive reaction to something which you later realised was stupid?

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 17:58:30

Sorry, only read the OP. Hugely relieved you are not going to either text or confront your colleague.

Seriously though, work with her. The tricky ones can be very rewarding if well-managed.

whois Thu 18-Jul-13 18:02:11

OP you'd be a total LOON to text your college about this. Sounds like it was an off the cuff and POSITIVE remake about another colleague, not a slight on you.

whois Thu 18-Jul-13 18:03:27

Oh too late, didnt see the end of the thread ;-)

Well done OP!

LilacPeony Thu 18-Jul-13 18:25:29

Is it possible that she didn't mean it in the way you took it? It could have been a throwaway comment because she was feeling unsettled about the other person leaving and she may not have meant it as a criticism of you?

missesjellybean Thu 18-Jul-13 18:30:13

definitely don't text, she could report you for harassing her at home. her mobile is a personal possession I think you'll be seen as crossing the line if you do. wait and see how she is in the new term if she is still the same then meet with her at work

RevoltingPeasant Thu 18-Jul-13 18:54:04

Op both my boss and boss's boss have been promoted from within the team. They both have huge respect and are liked because they do not do what a PP suggested and ignore people who fail to say hi etc. They are uniformly polite and friendly, but also brisk and to the point. You have a clear signal not to waste time and not to bring petty grievances.

They are also both transparent in making decisions and consult widely, but also push stuff through when necessary, ie dictates from above.

Finally though, they are also seen to fight for the team's interests within the institution. They are both pretty much perfect bosses. If someone said something a bit bitchy to one of them, I imagine they'd shrug and get on with the next thing. I don't think you can afford to have "things" with people when you are the boss.

Good luck and congrats!!

ilovecolinfirth Thu 18-Jul-13 18:54:59

She doesn't sound pleasant, but really, let it go. If in future anything else is said that you feel needs challenging, make sure that you do it face to face and professionally, rather than texting.

Congrats and good luck with the new job. You'll be amazing I'm sure! You got given the job for a reason!


YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 18-Jul-13 19:15:19

You are all great, thank you for the amazing advice. Will chill out and go in with fully professional attitude in September. MN is great, isn't it?

MrsLouisTheroux Thu 18-Jul-13 19:48:17

Ooh is she a little bit jealous of you OP? I would do as you are doing and say nothing! I would also totally kill her with kindness next term !! grin

sicily1921 Thu 18-Jul-13 20:55:48

Hi, I can see why this remark would be upsetting, by all means praise the other head of faculty if she thought she was great, but not in order to put you down. Without being there OP though, I agree with other posters that she could just have been thoughtless and not realised it or she could be jealous of you.

I really disagree with the texting thing though as it's a very unprofessional way to go about tackling someone - it's the more the kind of stuff teenagers/preteens do isn't it? It smacks of the Facebook culture to me. Sorry to be blunt, you could be a lot younger than I am and it is more a 'youth' culture thing! Perhaps when you take up the role she will mellow a bit and be more pleasant. Does she realise you rate her in her role, perhaps you need to take steps to try and improve your communication with her if you are going to be in a higher position?

Fairyliz Thu 18-Jul-13 21:28:54

Could it just be an innocent remark about someone she really admired? I was talking to my current Head about the previous Head and said 'she was the best boss I have ever had'!
Fortunately he just laughed and said 'I have a lot to live up to then'. I think I have been forgiven.

ShadowMeltingInTheSun Thu 18-Jul-13 21:35:58

Glad to see that you've taken on board the advice to not text your colleague.

Confronting colleagues by text is never professional. If you still have problems with her behaviour next term, then bring it up face to face.

fabergeegg Thu 18-Jul-13 21:36:06

In leadership, you have to be thick-skinned and incredibly gracious. Never, ever rise. It's unethical for you to be relationally involved with colleagues in quite the same way as you used to be. For example, if you said something about this and then had to reprimand her next month, it would be very difficult to persuade her that you weren't picking on her. That's not fair on either of you. Call it tolerance, nonchalance, deliberately emotional stability - whatever it takes to ignore and continue being professional. It's lonely at the top and all that. Quite honestly, the fact that you are considering making an issue out of this - and by text - gives me great sympathy with your colleagues viewpoint.

Dorris83 Thu 18-Jul-13 21:38:36

Yoni I'm glad you decided against texting.

I agree with the posters who say she may not have meant it as a negative comment about you, just a positive comment about your predecessor

Sounds like you have big shoes to fill, but seriously don't stress too much, no one will expect you to be exactly like your predecessor, and I guarentee that you will have strengths that she didn't have.

I became a department head recently, and I read a boom that really helped: it's called 'the first ninety days' by Michael Watkins. It is really useful and encourages you tithing about your particular situation d how you can put plans in place to succeed in the critical first three months on the job.

Have a lovely summer, and congrats on the promotion!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now