Lynne Curry: 'Private' post cost employee her job

ManagementMay 5, 2013 

Q. When I arrived at work this morning, my supervisor stopped me at the door and fired me. I wasn't allowed to come into my office. He told me not to expect a reference.

He then handed me a printout of a Facebook post that was supposed to be available only to my friends, some of whom are co-workers. I'd voiced honest concerns about how things at work were going -- to my friends and co-workers. Don't I have a right to privacy and free expression, especially as this was a post for close friends?

 

A. One of your "friends" lost your privacy protection when she printed your post and passed it to your supervisor.

You may, however, have a case under the National Labor Relations Act. The law protects workers who complain about work conditions to co-workers, a legally protected act.

In one case, when new owners took over Character's Pub, they terminated two servers and told the remaining ones not to discuss menu choices with cook staff.

On the employees' private group Facebook page, a remaining server posted, "I didn't think they'd f--- it up this badly!!!" When the owners saw her post, they fired her. She brought an unfair labor practice charge and the National Labor Relations Board ruled in her favor.

Q. I work for the original Last Minute Manager. He almost misses every deadline imaginable, from a plane departure to a legal filing. I've worked for him for a year and have never received an assignment that wasn't handed to me at the last minute, putting me under extreme pressure.

It's clear he loves the adrenaline rush. I don't. I can't stand turning in half-done assignments. I've stayed as late as 2 a.m. to make sure I meet deadlines despite his lateness.

At least once a month my boss promises he'll mend his ways. When I push hard enough he partially cleans up his act but his improvements are short-lived.

Also, when he's in frenzy, he doesn't either care or realize the effect his chaotic management style has on staff. As a result, turnover in our department is sky high. Two of my co-workers plan to quit. I don't want to. What can I do?

 

A. Convince Mr. Last Minute time has run out -- without insulting him. People feeling attacked are generally defensive and at best make under-duress changes that evaporate once the pressure eases.

Give your boss a clear explanation of why he needs to change. Let him know you realize how much he has on his plate but explain his rush assignments make you crazy and you can't continue working until midnight.

Instead of asking him to change on his own, ask what you can do to help him. Can you meet with him daily to ask what's on the horizon, so he doesn't have to take the initiative to brief you? Can you organize the stacks on his desk? Is there a way to systematize his pending projects or develop a deadline calendar?

If Mr. Last Minute sees he can't continue as before without losing you, he may take you up on your offer, or at least change enough to make your life easier.

If he won't change, you need to. Your boss takes advantage of you -- with your collusion. By working until midnight, you enable your boss to give you assignments late without consequences.

So create a Plan B. You and your boss may be mismatched. He may need an adrenaline junky who thrives on what he throws at her. You want sanity.

You can get this if you decide the number of hours you'll work in the evening to accommodate genuine emergencies, but draw a line against working after 6 p.m. on false emergencies.

In other words, hand back to your boss the consequences of his last-minute drama. He may send you packing -- but given that he'll probably wait until the last minute, you may already be gone.

 

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of The Growth Company Inc. Send questions to lynne@thegrowthcompany.com or follow her on Twitter @lynnecurry10.

 

 

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