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Difficult Manager - whom do I speak with?


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I'm having some trouble with my manager at work. She has never been supportive about anything that I have requested, but today I felt, was the last straw. I requested permission to leave work an hour early and have the hour taken off as annual leave (because my partner has had to fly overseas to see her father who has been hospitalised and has been told could be terminal, thereby leaving me with no childcare at such short notice), to which she replied that she wouldn't normally support this, and that she will have to have chat with me about this.

This is the same person who allowed one of my colleagues to leave four hours early on a saturday couple of weeks ago in order to attend the office party.

 

I am seriously considering my options in terms of whom I can speak with regarding the behaviour of this person who seems to be constantly saying No to any of my requests, but an easy Yes to any of my colleagues who are much younger (yes, she has clearly shown herself to be ageist, but that's another issue).

 

My question: Is taking time off to attend the office party considered fair whereas taking time off (annual leave) to care for young children who will be on their own due to unforeseen circs, unfair?

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It certainly doesn't seem fair but then we don't really know all the circumstances.

 

Certainly though if you want to start complaining about a manager you need to be extremely careful. Complaining about one particular incident is going to be very unhelpful to you and probably will achieve nothing except further trouble in the future as the incident gets stored up in your managers mind.

 

If you feel that you have not been supported by this person then you need to start keeping a log. You need to show a similar pattern of negative attitude towards you over a long period of time. The more subtle the lack of support then the longer you will have to keep a log.

 

I'm afraid that on this occasion you will probably have to suck it up – but start logging everything. Keep a separate exercise book for this and keep the log at home.

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Very helpful, Bankfodder!

I shall begin doing this right away.

 

I sort of knew that it wouldn't be easy to complain against a manager because most organisations (especially the NHS!) is built in a way as to protect the managers and use (and abuse) the underlings.

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Keep a log. Get witnesses if any and speak to your union rep or HR manager.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

:D

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I agree with the previous advice, but I'd go further. For starters, if you are in a union, go and speak to them now. If you are not in a union, join one now. Bankfodder rightly suggested that you'd need to keep a log for a lengthy period of time, and I'm not going to sugar coat this - you are looking at several months at least if most of the incidents are of the type you describe. At least. So you have time to join a union and get the required membership under your belt long before anything could possibly go formal.

 

I'll also point out, and nobody ever likes it when I say this, which is probably why I say it so often - life isn't fair. What the law considers "fair" is not the same thing as what the world considers fair. So, for example, "fair" it might not be but the law says that what your manager did was legally fair. They are allowed to allocate hours and flexibility on a case by case basis. So there is no comparison between what happened to a colleague a few weeks ago, and what happened to you this week. For all we know - and you can bet their version will be something like this - a few weeks ago they were fully staffed and could afford to be flexible, but this week two people are on holiday and three off sick so they can't.

 

The kind of situation that you are describing is very easy to mask, and almost impossible to prove in a legal sense - that latter being very critical because you obviously don't believe your higher management will be supportive, and the chances of you gaining enough evidence of something that breaches the law, as opposed to being "unfair", is very low. management seldom have any incentive to act unless there is a reasonable chance of them being under a legal threat. Some will, but you know your own management and clearly don't consider that they count amongst those that will.

 

One last comment, again not often popular, but it's definitely practical. You suggest that you may be in the NHS. If so, or any larger organisation, seriously consider the option of redeployment or another job. Because that is very possibly where this will end up anyway, but a long time in the future, and not without pain for you in the meantime. It is very unusual for a manager to be moved, even though it should be them if the world were a just place. So your outcomes are likely to be that you are moved, or that gyou are left where you are - even assuming that your complaint were upheld. That makes you a sitting duck.... Either way, the real "punishment" usually falls on the complainant, and they are left with a manager after their blood (in a hidden way).

 

Maybe that won't be the case. Maybe your employer is not like that. But be aware - this could end very unhappily for you. Don't assume that things will get better if you decide to tackle this, with or without a log (which proves very little than your opinion on how you should be treated).

 

None of that is a reason not to doo anything, or to not complain. But it is a a very good reason to be fully advised of the possible negative consequences, and not to go in blind. Or without a union supporting you. Because if your are walking into a minefield, they should be trying to stop you. Or at least advise you to tread carefully.

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Depends on just how peeved you are. You can go right now to HR or her manager and complain, you can lodge a formal Grievance (subject to your company policy) about discrimination and differential treatment. Or you can wait it out, note and record a few events (and some people would suggest sending an email every now and again saying "I was disappointed you didn't give me my requested time off for a serious family emergency when you have gave Y, a much younger person, time off for a mere "party"..... So as to have a physical record.)

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(and some people would suggest sending an email every now and again saying "I was disappointed you didn't give me my requested time off for a serious family emergency when you have gave Y, a much younger person, time off for a mere "party"

 

Bad idea as you dont know the circumstances surrounding that.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

:D

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Thanks but I've known won Tribunal Claims because people set up exactly such a paper trail.

However, there is no method of verifying that claim, and no way of these other situations you claim to know of bear any resemblance at all to the bare facts presented here? Are you claiming to be a lawyer?

 

I think you will find that "finishing early to look after the kids because my partner is abroad" does not satisfy the legal test of a family emergency unless the partner flew away without warning during the shift.

 

The problem is - and we have only one circumstance here to base any opinion on - that the manager is correct and acting within the law. This is not a family emergency. The OP had no legal right too finish their shifty early, for whatever reason. That means that this is a request only, and subject to the managers discretion.

 

"Peeved" is not a good reason to rush into an action. Sound grounding is. And on the basis of the facts presented by the OP, they have no sound cause for complaint.

 

It may not be fair, but life isn't.

 

OP, get better evidence of something before going down the route of a grievance, or you may regret it.

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what is the policy regarding time off for dental or hospital appointments? Most companies are happy for you to take an hour off and make the time up rather than sod about with a/l for such a short time. When I was employed we were often allowed a half day to participate in company events, even inter departmental cricket matches so all absence is not the same and the comparison you made is not a valid one.

 

There are other things you can explore such as if you are asked to do something out of the ordinary as far as time goes you say that you cant because of childcare issues and if you had been given more notice it would have been possible so next time can they put it in writing/on the calendar/rota or whatever so it is clear that you arent turning down any request but making equally clear that you will follow procedure to the letter if that is going to be way forward. We had a number of engineering workshop people who had a dispute over responsibilities and they all refused to use their own tools for any job.

 

Now this would have created a massive backlog of work whilst the employer procured the necessary tools and as the issue was H&S related the threat soon led to realistic negotiations on the real problems.

 

If yours is an isolated problem then such an action wont be of much use but if others also suffer from the inconsistent decision making then finding a collective problem that you can use to incorporate this into a general working practice then it can be sorted without lines being drawn

Edited by honeybee13
Paras
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Thank you all for your replies. It's very interesting and revealing to see different POV's. Since the episode, i have been logging any and all events where she has used her "discretion" for various decisions, including some related to the staff on lower bands. They have also been experiencing the same ageist approach by her, whereby younger staff have been allowed time off and hours off over the christmas period, whereas the older staff have had to ask and ask again for the same, and received the time off with warnings such as "this is a one off and wont be entertained in the future", etc.

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But equally, and you aren't going to like this suggestion I suspect - one point of keeping a log is to to be able to view things retrospectively and impartially. Because what I am reading here is that your actual complaint is that she says that she needs to discuss your request with you before actually agreeing to it! That is what you have said here twice - not that she refused but that she insisted on talking to you about it, or saying that she'll give it to you on this occasion, or something similar. Sitting here in an objective mode, that doesn't sound to me like a terrible manager or evidence of age discrimination. Take an argument like that to management and you will not only not win, but you may in fact end up on the receiving end of a complaint yourself.

 

I think you really need to stand back from where you are and scan the horizon - what exactly is unlawful or against policy in her behaviour? Forget what's "fair" in your opinion. That's all it is - your opinion. You need to focus on what she is actually doing that is wrong. And telling people that they can't have time off that they are not entitled to have, or that she'll allow it but only on this occasion, is not wrong.

 

I'd also point out that you appear to be putting yourself at risk of allegations here yourself. How do you know, in detail, the circumstances of others you work with? How do you know she does not have the same conversation with other staff who are younger? Have you asked them? If you are going around other staff asking in detail about their dealings with this manager, that could be construed as bullying or harassment. If you haven't asked them, then you are guessing, not using facts. And making false allegations is also not somewhere that you want to go.

 

If you are intent upon ratcheting up the stakes this quickly and involving other people, then I strongly urge you to go to the union, get their advice, and follow it. One thing is certain - the minute you start involving other people and talking to them in the way you indicate you have, the manager will know what your are doing within a short period of time. Somebody will tell her. And right now you don't appear to have a solid case of anything, so you are inviting her to go for you first. You might think she can't, but if, as Jas suggests above, you are older, on the same facts that you describe here I could turn that on its head and suggest that you and your older colleagues are acting entitled and bullying a younger manager because you don't like being told what to do by someone younger.

 

There are always two sides to every story. Be careful that your aren't handing the employer a version that puts you in the trouble maker category. Either wind it back and stop involving your colleagues ( and colleagues are also notoriously unreliable and become very forgetful when formal processes start) or go to the union and get them on board now so that you aren't putting yourself out on a limb.

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@sangie595 : Yes, I see what you're saying. As you've correctly said, this is thin ice I'm treading on, and I have already begun logging incidents on a spreadsheet for future reference, if needed. I don't plan to go to the union or HR at this stage, because all they do is give her the heads up.

 

I have asked her directly the reason for her difficulty in supporting my request. She has been tactful enough to reply with " I shall discuss this with you face to face".

 

Oh, and she isn't young. Early forties.

And I'm only a couple of years older.

 

 

I have not been speaking to any colleagues or staff. My work role involves setting rotas for the staff, therefore I have access to these.

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts. Hard truths are good at a time like this.

 

Helps to strengthen one's resolve. :)

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Hmm, is she by any chance more friendly with the younger staff and are they more her own age? Does she for example go to the pub with them some lunchtimes or evenings whilst the older people go home to their families?

 

No they aren't anywhere near her age, but yes, she likes a drink and is more friendly with the younger staff.

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@sangie595 : Yes, I see what you're saying. As you've correctly said, this is thin ice I'm treading on, and I have already begun logging incidents on a spreadsheet for future reference, if needed. I don't plan to go to the union or HR at this stage, because all they do is give her the heads up.

 

I have asked her directly the reason for her difficulty in supporting my request. She has been tactful enough to reply with " I shall discuss this with you face to face".

 

Oh, and she isn't young. Early forties.

And I'm only a couple of years older.

 

 

I have not been speaking to any colleagues or staff. My work role involves setting rotas for the staff, therefore I have access to these.

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts. Hard truths are good at a time like this.

 

Helps to strengthen one's resolve. :)

 

So, from setting the rota you only know who has had time off agreed. Not the circumstances. And on this last occasion you asked for annual leave on the actual day - something that can't be rota'd for our planned in advance like a party would be. So yes, you need to be careful here because you are making a lot of assumptions. Don't make those assumptions into facts. I've seen many a person swallowed by interpreting things that they've assumed as being facts. Concentrate on what actual wrong doing that log demonstrates. And be ruthless with yourself - if this is about your not agreeing with her management style or decisions, then suck it up or look for another role. Sometimes it's that simple - people don't get on, or don't agree. There's no reason they need to. In a workplace it can be uncomfortable, but that's the nature of work - you can avoid neighbours, family and acquaintances, but not colleagues or managers. So you need to adapt different strategies in a workplace when that happens, and sometimes that is "walk away".

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No they aren't anywhere near her age, but yes, she likes a drink and is more friendly with the younger staff.

 

Quite possibly then she is someone who wants to be "in" with the younger people and doesn't like her own age...

 

However, once you have a list of "events" you can then review them after the event and with a second viewing (and ideally a friend who is honest) and see if they seem like a pattern which suggests unfair behaviour or just poor management/general people management.

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