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wrongful accusations at work

(19 Posts)
4c4good Sun 31-Jul-11 17:16:48

I'm not in a good place at the moment. My problems are small compared to those of other people but I am beginning to spiral into despair.

I'm a manager in the public sector. One of my team members has apparently complained about my behaviour towards her when all I was doing was making a polite and reasonable request, and asking her to stop spending hours texting when she should have been working. She then tried to bargain with me to stop doing the bits of her job she is quite capable of doing but finds least enjoyable. When gently challenged she then said I was insulting her religion and being a bully!

I hate this. If anything I am too soft on them all, but everyone needs to know that we all must up our game to meet the new demands on us. I have the support of my colleagues fortunately but feel betrayed as we get on well personally ( and she has said this too) . She also says she is stressed and depressed. But I've been watching her carefully, having been in that boat myself, and she betrays no outward signs of this at all.

I spent most of yesterday in bed, and today am not functioning very well. Am off to see a friend for coffee ( was tempted to cancel).

Any advice or support?

cyb Sun 31-Jul-11 17:20:43

Did she make a professional complaint to a manager higher than you? Or is she just moaning to others in the office?

If its the latter I think you are just going to have to accept that as her 'superior' you aren't there to make friends; it may be that your relationship has to be more business like and professional from now on

If its an offical complaint she has made, I suppose it would have to go to HR to be resolved

cjbartlett Sun 31-Jul-11 17:21:20

I'd give her a formal warning

I'd also tell your boss and record everything

Pancakeflipper Sun 31-Jul-11 17:26:37

I would have an informal chat with my superiors/HR - picking the person whom I respect and knows me so it can be honest discussion

Obviously don't go in moaning that this person is lazy, trying it on blah blah... Just give the facts of the incident and say you are struggling to deal with it, are dwelling on it and what would they do?

4c4good Sun 31-Jul-11 17:34:32

She has bypassed her line manager (sorry did not make that very clear ) and gone staright to HR - who arrived ready to do battle on her behalf, only to reverse completely when she heard the other side of the story. My manager is completely supportive. Everything will go through her line manager from now on, so if I discover things not done etc, I will not be confronting her. Everything recorded. Not a formal complaint, but I suspect more of the same is to come.

4c4good Sun 31-Jul-11 17:36:23

Just read this through. I sound really wet. Gah.

TheCrackFox Sun 31-Jul-11 17:37:16

CAn you ask your line manager if your team member can be moved to another department/team?

eandz Sun 31-Jul-11 17:38:40

umm, i would give her a formal warning. maybe even figure out why she thinks it's appropriate to intimidate you and work from there.

floyjoy Sun 31-Jul-11 17:39:22

How I hated being a line manager...

Did she put lodge a formal complaint? If so, you'll have your chance to put your version forward and tbh if you don't have a history of staff lodging complaints about you, I wouldn't worry. Being a line manager creates situations like this, whether you're a 'soft' boss or a 'hard' one. It's part of the job. But you shouldn't be worrying about it (and on a Sunday!) and rather than wondering about whether she is depressed or not, or her motivations, maybe you could focus on your coping strategies. Some workplaces can be really toxic - that's why so many end up off with stress.

I'd echo cj - keep records (meetings, communication with her, emails, lateness, failure to carry out tasks, etc) in case it might be useful at some point and speak to your line manager. Also, you could speak to a union rep. Just be rational and calm about it - it's not unusual for unjustified complaints to be made. A friend of mine regularly makes them in her jobs and as she tells me everything that happens at her work, some are IMO not justified at all. She is a complainer that takes offence at anything she doesn't agree with.

TheCrackFox Sun 31-Jul-11 17:42:08

YY - being a line manager is crap.

However, in the private sector she would have been given a final warning and probably sacked (she doesn't sound like she wants to be good at her job) a month later.

ohgawdherewegoagain Sun 31-Jul-11 17:42:11

I'm a manager myself. As she has pulled the stressed and depressed card, you should refer her imediately to Occy Health and get a medical assessment done. This is done in the manner that you wish to be supportive and understand any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary as a result of her illness. Also have a frank discussion about why she is stressed. It will be important to document anything of a personal nature so that this may assist in the future if it goes to discplinary as opposed to just work stress. As she has also pulled the "religion" card, your friendship will need to be put to one side and you must deal with this by the book and not allow it to escalate. I would also offer her the opportunity to have any allegations she has of your management of her tested through the grievance process and document every conversation you have with her from this point. If she considers that you have a friendly relationship outside of work, she is taking advantage of you! Let us know how it goes and don't let this affect your mood. There are processes to deal with this and that should remove some responsibility from your shoulders and hopefully you have an effective HR team that will support you through this. Good luck - being a manager is very hard at times but if you have others in the team, you owe it to them to deal with this as her lack of focus means others will be picking up the slack.

floyjoy Sun 31-Jul-11 17:44:16

Also, I used to work in the public sector with a man who lost his temper with staff (always female) and would scream, shout and intimidate them. A lot of complaints went into HR about him and he just got shifted about sections.

Another man had a drink problem and would arrive drunk and twice verbally abused a colleague in front of the children she was working with. She lodged a complaint and he was suspended briefly only to reappear without anyone warning her.

So, I don't hold much stock in much being done about complaints, but maybe not all public sector employers are like that.

bushymcbush Sun 31-Jul-11 17:50:32

Have you been a manager for long OP?

It seems to me that the situation you describe is part and parcel of your kind of role. I know it's tough, especially when it's someone you usually get on with, but you need to have a thick skin when dealing with people as a manager.

Your comment about spiralling into despair is worrying, as is your reluctance to even go out for coffee with a friend. It sounds like you are letting the stress of people management really get on top of you.

It sounds as if your manager, her line manager and your HR department are fully supportive of you and that you have done everything professionally and by the book. Whereas the complainant has clearly acted unprofessionally and has got nowhere with her complaint. So you have nothing to fear from this situation. But can you handle further 'complaints' or similar situations with other colleagues in the future?

4c4good Sun 31-Jul-11 18:02:03

My immediate reaction was to 'get rid' - but that would mean a significant increase in my workload as the post will not be backfilled, with the knock on effect on my resilience. Also, it kind of rewards teh behaviour and avoids the issue.

Bushy, you're right.

bushymcbush Sun 31-Jul-11 18:39:05

I regretted the harsh nature of my post as soon as I'd sent it. I know it's really not so easy to not take your work worries home with you. Plus, I constantly worry about what my colleagues think of me, so would probably be a rubbish manager - however, I am considering applying for promotion because - well - just because where else is there to go except middle management?

Sorry if I was blunt. My advice is to try to separate your 'work' self from your 'not at work' self. And remember how much you are valued and loved by your family and friends when you feel someone at work only wants to see the worst of you. Your f and f are so much more important in your life than some workshy colleague who has an agenda all of her own.

4c4good Sun 31-Jul-11 18:57:56

Bushy please, please don't worry! There's a lot of truth in what you say.
You're also right in that all that really matters is what f and f think. Getting there is harder though.

turkeyboots Sun 31-Jul-11 19:06:17

I'm a public sector manager to and have seen people in your situation quit over the stress of dealing with this type of situation. Find support for yourself, take some leave, try to relax when you can. And when dealing with the problem follow the handbook. Follow it word for word and don't let yourself or others talk you into hoping the problem will go away. Cause it won't. You have all my sympathies as its a horrible situation to be in.

havealittlefaithbaby Sun 31-Jul-11 20:21:42

I'm in the public sector and sympathise fully. I have a colleague just like that. Everyone is 'ganging up against her' and has it in for her. She isn't British bit has been here a long time and thinks everyone is racist. Tough to explain to her, it's not your ethnic origin, it's just that you're reality rude to people!
I realise it's tough for you but I think you should just stand your ground. You haven't down anything wrong and as pointed out above your manager and HR have supported you. I wouldn't discipline her this time but maybe so a file note incase she raises issues again.
Keep going, sounds like you're doing a great job!

4c4good Mon 01-Aug-11 20:19:11

Thanks all.

I have been very naive I think. I don't have a friendship with her outside work - she is simply trying to allege that I am fine except when asking her to do something she'd rather not do. When I apparently start disrespecting her. Interestingly she was spoken to (not by me) for being very rude ot people outside the organisation on the phone who had complained. She requested to move desks as she didn't like being in my line of sight - of course she doesn't - that way I can see what she's up to and know when she's messing on her phone. That request was denied.

Conveniently having a third person present in difficult meetings makes her feel 'ambushed'. And when her line manager set up a one to one to sort all this through she suddenly blurted out she was worried as she was bleeding and there was a real possibility she was pregnant. She was advised to go to the nhs drop in clinic straight away. No no, after work, she said. Enquiries revealed that teh appointment had not been necessary as the bleeding had miraculously cleared up almost straight away on its own.

Since she alleged stressed and depressed she'lll be going down our HSE approved, tightly documented stress management route which I suspect will not be to her liking. Good.

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