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Old 04-29-2016, 07:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Supervising active alchy. Advice.


I need advice...

I have a coworker that I am going to start supervising. She is an active alcoholic and has already contacted me drunk three times. Phone call twice, text once. I didn't tell our boss, since it was after hours

I'm starting to get very nervous about this. I have heard that she is very difficult to work with. When our boss asked me if I was ok with her transferring here and me supervising her, I told him that as long as she did her job I wouldn't mind. My thing is: all the horror stories are hearsay, I haven't witnessed it. I have seen her drink at work functions and as I stated, she has contacted me drunk, but I really haven't had any problems professionally with her.

I went to lunch with the lady yesterday in conversation I told her that I don't drink anymore... 2 years. She acted surprised and proud, so she knows I am a no drinker now.

How can I handle this? What should I do? Tell on her? I think I need to just let it be and let her fall on her own (if she's going to) but I'm getting really anxious about this...

How do I handle this? Nothing has happened but I forsee trouble... Hopefully not.
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Old 04-29-2016, 07:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would first sit her down and express your concern, I think kind and compassion is the way I would approach it always being aware tough love may have to come into play. I have managed very large groups of people in my careers, at the end of the day, friend or not if they are not doing their job while at work, its time for them to go and I never allowed work calls to me at home. Keep in mind your responsibility as a supervisor and you do not want her problems to become yours, always document any meeting for the HR file.

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Old 04-29-2016, 08:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Could you maybe firmly but kindly let her know that after hours drunk calling and texting is highly inappropriate?
I would just straight up talk to her first being as you are the one supervising her.
If it continues to happen then maybe after the until conversation a written or verbal warning could be given that if the behaviour continues that you are going to take further action at your discretion to modify or stop the situation.

Definitely I think in your position you can handle this with kindness and compassion. But you don't want to be caught in the trap of taking blame for her actions or mistakes or worse, covering up for her. I'd deal with it head on, sooner rather than later.

Maybe even offering her some ideas for help like Sr if she's open to it or going to a meeting etc. It's up to you to gauge what level of help you're comfortable in giving her. You can definitely be a source for inspiration being that you're sober two years now.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I also would sit her down and have a very frank and serious conversation with her. Good for you on your own years of sobriety, congratulations!
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks guys! I started 2 years ago with some infa few where I drank, I now have more than 10 weeks continuos, but I didn't want to go into details with her.

Here's the problem. The only reason I know she is an alchy is because of stories. I have witnessed a couple of things that could go unnoticed by normies but I can read as a problem. I'm afraid that if I sit her down for this conversation she is going to feel attacked since I really do t have any first hand knowledge of her drinking... I did tell her that quitting was HARD and she answered "I know...". So maybe that's a clue. She told me she wants to start with a clean slate here. I feel that I'm not allowing that by having these fears and preconceptions.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Well... you could start off by mentioning how the after hours stuff was inappropriate. With some heavy hinting in there?
The other thing is that if these stories are true and you notice certain things that are a problem, wouldn't you rather give her a chance to hear from you that you've heard and seen some things, you've been down a certain path yourself so you understand things can be difficult but you want her to know help is available if and when she wants it? As opposed to her feeling alone and potentially crashing and burning under your supervision.
I guess it becomes a matter of how far you are willing to stick your own neck out to protect the interests of the company, yourself and her. Not to say be a doormat for her problems or an enabler but to know at least you can let her know she has a safe place to turn to if she needs or wants. Rather than potentially having to clean up after her and find a replacement etc.
You are kind of in a unique position. You yourself know that none of us can start with a clean slate as an active alcoholic. Maybe you are what she needs to actually get to that point in her life.
But maybe you don't need or want that and that's understandable too.
I'd maybe write down a list of pros/cons/ways to handle it. I think whatever happens if you handle it proactively and with kindness no matter what she does or doesn't do you can feel good about your role in this.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think the opposite as some of these ideas.... I think in this situation you're required to judge her based only on what she does in her working relationship with you. And I think you have to do your best to treat her the way you would treat anyone else even though the alcohol issue is a personal problem. I recently worked with an active alcoholic and I was really sensitive to it and had a really hard time being around him, so I understand how it feels (luckily I wasn't this guy's boss!). But if she's doing her work and not causing trouble then I don't think it's appropriate to dive into what is still her personal life.

The drunk calls, I agree, should be stopped though since that's a concrete instance.

Either way it's a difficult position to be in and I think it's very good of you to be proceeding with empathy! Congrats on your sober time.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Personally, I would try to keep an open mind on this new relationship until she takes action. Her action will either be positive or negative; if negative then you can address it at that time. Right now, I don't think you have anything concrete to confront her with. I would give her a fair chance at proving herself through her actions.

Congrats on your time sober!
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Unless her alcoholism and drinking is a "known" to your company, or there is some kind of policy forbidding the use of alcohol I would stay away from the subject completely. You could be opening yourself and your company up to a HUGE potential liability by approaching her about it. I'd personally keep your conversations focused on her work performance. If she's not meeting deadlines or completing work as she should be, then you could follow whatever guidelines are in place to get things back on track. But approaching here straight out about her alcoholism as a supervisor would be akin to you asking about personal medical details - off limits for sure.

If she were to ASK for help you could certainly direct her to any resources your company has or recommend she see a doctor for help, but you don't want to be in the middle of any of it. She could also turn against you - remember that active alcoholics don't think logically.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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isnt drunk phone calls firsthand knowledge?
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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If she is drunk at work, or her alcohol use is negatively impacting her work performance - then follow your company policy, plain and simple.

If there is not a clear policy, discuss with your higher-ups and seek advice on the performance management plan they advise.

If you can clearly see that her alcohol dependence is the root of the problems, then also refer her to any mental or substance abuse health benefits your company may offer; part of a manager's job is to ensure that employees in trouble get the support they need. There are programs (i.e. short term disability, socially-funded rehab, etc) that may be available in your area as well.

Do the 'right' thing by the individual by trying to align them with help to the extent you are able. Be forthright with the individual about how alcohol is impeding their work performance. Give the warning(s) and support you have latitiude to give, but beyond that if it continues you must write her up, refer her to management, or take any other appropriate actions including dismissal. Her alcohol problem is not YOUR alcohol problem.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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PS - if your company has an HR department - engage them. They are trained to deal with this sort of thing and are familiar with the legal aspects.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I would be very careful. I definitely would not sit her down and discuss her perceived problem and if most of this drinking problem is heresay then she may believe no one has any suspicion of her issue whatsoever. Even the inappropriate phone calls and texts can not definitively prove she was drunk. We in recovery have a heightened awareness of this disease and I'd hate to have this fact come back and bite you in the ass. Her denial could be so strong that she may file a complaint against you that you are proliferating office gossip and slandering her. For now, I would just document everything.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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two things:
-sitting down with her pre-emptively strikes me as a really bad idea. it smacks of assuming ahead of time you know stuff. or are warning her about things that she hasn't done.
if i were an employee who got sat down that way by my new supervisor i'd feel only condescendingly treated and judged before i had even started working "under" them. it would be a real bad start for me. undermining.

-secondly, you've had those phonecalls. she may or may not be an alcoholic. has nothing to do with her making phonecalls to you when inebriated. my suggestion would be to spend some time thinking about your own boundaries about this, instead of about expectations about her. if you're clear on what is and isn't okay with you, you can communicate that clearly when/if the situations comes up again.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It's really hard being in a management position and being friends outside work, tried it back in the early 80's and it just doesn't seem to work that well, there is a fine line but we need to keep that Chinese wall for respect.

If she isn't drinking at work and she is doing her job, IMHO I always blew off employee gossip because one doesn't want to go down that road.

When work performance becomes an issue/problem, then you can talk to her about work and what is going on. Outside work I would put the drunk calls to an end really quick, speak you mind, hold your ground and hang up.

Although not a work environment, I go through this once in the while with my older sister who I think the world of and honestly she is an angle however due to severe health issues she has become addicted to pain killers and abuses them at times, if she calls and I sense she is high I simply tell her to call be back when she has sobered up, very hard to do as she doesn't have long but not something I will put myself through, held the same attitude with employees and college's at work.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:46 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for the good advice and different perspectives. I appreciate all your opinions. I am leaning towards just letting things play out, really starting with a clean slate. Who knows, she might do great, might not drink before work... I don't know.bi forgot to mention that my higher ups DO know about her reputation, my direct supervisor told me there have been allegations but never a resolution. Her coworker (in the region she is at now) actually submitted a complaint but I don't know what that is about.

I appreciate your input and feedback very much! I will keep you all posted.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I read this when you posted and I thought about the recent supervisor training I went through. Depending on where you work, your company may also have policies you need to follow as the supervisor, as well as diversity and ADA guidelines. Definitely seems like a tricky topic purely from a business standpoint.

Our company has an employee assistance program that is voluntary but can also be mandated if an addiction impacts work performance - a means to provide support for an employee to get back on track.
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Old 05-02-2016, 07:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I certainly wouldn't say anything ahead of time. See how she performs. Good luck!
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Old 05-02-2016, 08:26 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nowsthetime View Post

How can I handle this? What should I do? Tell on her? I think I need to just let it be and let her fall on her own (if she's going to) but I'm getting really anxious about this...

How do I handle this? Nothing has happened but I forsee trouble... Hopefully not.
It seems to me that you could really just handle it the way any manager would handle a potential problem employee. If they do their job, no big deal, but if they have problems start documenting it and confront them over it maybe with a strong suggestion/ultimatum about seeking help. If your place of employment supports people going away to treatment, it could wind up being a good thing if you let them know its an option - many people in her position might be scared to take that step while working because they don't know if it would mean losing their job. If that doesn't work, you'll have the problems documented and can work with HR to handle it from there.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:04 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Update

Yesterday I found out that she has been late a lot. A higher-up complained so I had to go personally and speak to his secretary. I had to involve my higher up ...

I have caught her in a couple of little lies and I am not liking it... I'm documenting everything.

I told my supervisor I didn't mind the move as long as she did her job and a huge part of our field is to be on time, actually 15 minutes early because other people are depending on us to be there to take care of business and it cannot be done if we are not there so we hold up the whole process .

I wish things were different and that she was on time. So silly in my opinion to jeopardize your job with tardiness... No mention of substances, just late.
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