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OT: How to diplomatically address concerns about my boss

Old 04-07-2013, 04:36 PM
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OT: How to diplomatically address concerns about my boss

At the urging of a number of seasoned veterans at my job, I've decided to set up an appt with my Superintendent about concerns regarding my direct boss.

In typical insecure fashion I've spent most of this year thinking I wasn't doing things right, wasn't asking the right questions or explaining my approach clearly enough and that it was my doing that she was constantly ignoring very significant (and pressing) issues that had to be addressed, ignoring requests to meet to develop a plan of action for several students (I had been told I HAD to have her there to change their IEP's but she refused to meet), undermining me right in front of students etc...

I've tried to be the perfect employee and go above and beyond and well, all that's happened is I've been treated worse.

But I didn't really see it too clearly until several other staff pointed out that they had already met with the Superintendent over similar concerns and encouraged me too as well.

I dragged my feet doing so because I think she will be angry that I am going over her head and I am new at my job, dont have tenure and my state is an at will employment state so I can be let go despite being good at what I do "just because" and never have to be given a reason. My supervisor is the one who recomends whether I return or not.

I have grown alarmed in the past month with how grossly distorted her emails to me about "concerns" she has had with my performance have become. She is building a case it seems and it's based on nothing.

I was given credit rather than her in Dec for a manual I had shared with the district that I'd created in a prior job and was happy to share. It was a training thing. My boss tried to pass it off as hers and was called out on it by someone from the Dept of Ed who was meeting with us and knew it was mine. THAT is when the passive aggressive animosity started with my boss and now I worry my job is on the line.

So, I am meeting with my Superintendent on Tuesday and have a list of my concerns and how my hands have been tied this year because of a lack of cooperation from my bosss. I just don't know how to approach the conversation.

I am not confrontational and try to please people vs stand up for myself. I am afraid that I will seem like I am being a jerk for complaining and am totally at a loss as to how to approach this conversations.

My colleagues who've met with the Superintendent already have been in the district a few years and have tenure so there's less at risk for them.

I feel like it's in my best interest to let him know the truth or at least "my side" since it appears my boss is painting a pretty inaccurate picture.

But how I handle myself in the meeting and how I express my concerns without sounding pissed off (which I am) is beyond me.

Any advice????
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:40 PM
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The good thing is that the Superintendent won't be shocked by your statements; as you note, he or she already is aware that multiple people have problems with your boss.

If it were me, I would start out by thanking the Superintendent for taking the meeting and state that I have some concerns that I have been seeking the proper outlet to share and would like to speak in confidence. Then I would diplomatically air my concerns and ask for any constructive ways to deal with the issues and personalities.

Depending on the reception I would gauge whether to continue on to specifics of the case being built against me...there may not be a lot you can do. It can be frustrating how long these type of people are allowed to go right along their merry ways. Good luck.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:41 PM
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Facts only. Leave emotions out of it. (I know, not easy!) But, if you want to be taken seriously, you must stick with cold, hard, provable facts. Things you can dispute with evidence, not how you feel about it. Oh, and I wouldn't mention the phrase "passive-aggressive" at all.

L
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
Facts only. Leave emotions out of it. (I know, not easy!) But, if you want to be taken seriously, you must stick with cold, hard, provable facts. Things you can dispute with evidence, not how you feel about it. Oh, and I wouldn't mention the phrase "passive-aggressive" at all.

L
Ditto to Lexie. Write out your facts, use bullet points, and be very professional.
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
Ditto to Lexie. Write out your facts, use bullet points, and be very professional.
Lexie? Gosh, I know I don't post as much anymore, but have you already forgotton me? LOL

L
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:10 PM
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LOL, busted multi tasking on my phone without my glasses! So sorry LTD. You rock, as always, which is I quoted you!

Sorry Lexie! Too many wise L's around here.

PS: wtbh, make sure you call your superintendent by the right name! That's also equally important!
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:34 AM
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Slightly different (though I agree with the above posts).

What a great opportunity to take your recovery skills on the road. I have been finding that in my interactions/dealings with a challenging boss.

Though hard it is still safer then with my loved ones....and it is something I needed to learn to do in both kinds of relationships.
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:50 AM
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Thanks all! I think my largest issue right now is my own discomfort with making waves by even thinking about talking to my Superintendent and am afraid of the backlash I may get.

Kind of smacks of how I lived for years with an alcoholic.

So, this is super uncomfortable for me to do but I am going to do it anyway.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:31 AM
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(((((WTBH)))))

I understand your fear. However, you can do this This is called standing up for yourself, and explaining how you have been stifled in doing your job the best way possible.

It has been stated above:

Try to keep your 'emotions' out of this, I know it is hard but you can do it.

Make a list of the points you want to make.

Keep it businesslike.

Call the superintendent by his right name. lol @ Tuffgirl.

Actually it sounds to me like you have thought this through and you know in your heart IT IS time for you to stand up for you.

Oh and one other thing, please do not forget to take us with you. We will fill up the superintendent's office in your mind. We are walking with you in spirit!!!

Love and hugs,
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:37 AM
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OMG my boss clearly knows I have an appt with her boss. Today I have gotten a barage of emails from her expressing "concerns" about things that haven't happened or which have a grain of truth and are grossly exagerrated. I can not afford to quit but am extremely upset right now.

I am good at what I do, well liked and always professional and my boss (whose own job is on the line bc of a number of administrative cuts) clearly thinks the way to deflect attention from herself is to attack me.

I regret ever taking this job. People told me to watch my back with her from the start of the year and naive me thought "no, she's so nice to me-- she wouldn't act that way with me"...

Arghhhh!

Probably the best thing that could happen right now is to be "non renewed" and collect unemployment and find a job elsewhere...

There is no one but me in the specific program I work in so I feel like I a sitting duck and very easy to blame/accuse since it's really my word vs hers. The woman who had my job last year left bc of the boss and the woman who had it the year before, same thing.

You'd think at some point the Superintendent would see that it's her.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:50 AM
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I agree - stick to the facts.

I have spent a lot of time in EAP meetings over the past 8 years. A great book to read, btw, is Wrightlaw's book called "From Emotions to Advocacy." Don't talk about how you feel, don't try to make the superintendent feel like he has to take sides. It sounds as if it is safe to say, building on what someone else recommended, that you have had some concerns and these are echoed by others you work with who urged you to meet with the superintendent as they have done. If handled correctly, you can make this seem as if you're a team player.

Your idea here is to get to a win/win. Don't back the superintendent into a corner. Do make him feel that you are appealing to his knowledge and authority and problem solving abilities. Tell him straight up what your concerns are, using I messages. Don't accuse or blame the supervisor - esp. given that the superintendent is male and in a position of authority, so try to avoid making it seem that he is being pulled into a personal battle or a catfight. But an example is, "I don't have tenure, so I realise I'm putting a lot on the line here. I have learned a lot from SUPERVISOR, and I value our relationship, but I'm worried that I'm being set up to fail/to be fired." Laugh: "I don't think I have anything to lose at this point." Appeal to his authority. "I heard from others that you were the person to talk to about this. How can I approach this problem? How can we work together to solve this problem? I don't have any answers. I love my job, I've loved working with her, and I'm distressed that things are deteriorating." Stuff like that.

I"ve sat in meetings with assistant superintendents crying because that 3rd grade teacher who was singling my kid out was the only 3rd grade teacher she'd ever have... but that superintendent didn't care, and it made him uncomfortable, it made him want to get me out of the office and to stop crying. It didn't help my daughter, it didn't help us figure out goals (SMART goals! SMART criteria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) to address how we could get her needs met.

Might help if you have given some thought, too, to what you want out of this meeting. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely ideas... Not that you are telling him but that you can throw an idea out and say, hey, I thought about doing this but I'm not sure how it would work/if it would work/if it's appropriate. It's a way of getting the conversation started.

Another thing to ask, esp. if emotions start to run high, take a step back and say if you're getting emotional and apologise. Then go back a step and say, we talked about this. Let's look at it another way: if I did this, what would that look like? How do you see that working?

Those two questions are questions that don't get asked, a lot of times, oddly enough. And yet they are really good for refocusing onto the problem, instead of the emotions.

Sorry for the info dump. I've spent a lot of time on this stuff and I'm nowhere near "good" at it but I'm always learning...
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:33 AM
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I agree with all the advice to leave feelings out and focus on the fact that she is impacting your ability to do your work. Do you have a potential solution? What steps have you already taken to rectify the situation?

But it is okay to say "This is a difficult conversation and I wish it were not necessary."
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:38 AM
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Bluegalangal (and all others). Thanks so much for the advice... Really helpful and needed! Thanks! I will use the language you've suggested and take the positive approach rather than defensive one that is my knee jerk reaction....
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Bluegalangal View Post
I have spent a lot of time in EAP meetings over the past 8 years.
*That should be "IEP" meetings. I don't know what I was thinking.
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