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Dealing with the aftermath of a difficult micromanager

Question: For almost three years, I worked for a very difficult micromanager. “Martha” constantly told me exactly what to do and how to do it, even though I have been in this job for 18 years. She made me feel like a first-grader.

Before Martha came, I was promoted twice and had a great relationship with my three previous managers. But no matter how hard I tried, I was never able to please her. On my last performance review, she gave me a low rating I did not deserve and even lied about a few things. I never protested this review, because I wasn’t sure what to say.

Fortunately for me, Martha is now moving on. However, she has left a blemish on my record that will be hard to erase. I feel sure she has given her replacement a lot of untrue information about me.

When I expressed this concern to my new manager, she assured me she will form her own opinion. Still, I can’t help thinking she may be slightly prejudiced against me. How can I get rid of this stigma?

Answer: Given your long track record of positive performance, one negative evaluation should not be a career-killer. Although Martha’s comments might raise a small red flag, your new boss should view them as an anomaly when she considers your entire work history.

In fact, it’s possible you actually have a better reputation than Martha. If she is as difficult as you say, then she has undoubtedly caused problems for others as well. In that case, the new manager would probably have picked up those rumors on the management grapevine.

Since your current boss has promised objectivity, you should take her at her word. If you continue to be a helpful, competent, conscientious employee, she will quickly conclude your first three managers were right and Martha was wrong.

Q: What can be done about a co-worker who likes to play practical jokes? He thinks it’s funny to create fictitious e-mails with rude comments, then send them out under someone else’s name. He has even faxed unprofessional messages to customers as though they came from another employee.

When we confronted this guy, he denied everything, but we know he’s the guilty party. He seems to delight in creating chaos and conflict. How do we put a stop to this?

A: Your juvenile associate is undoubtedly the only person who finds this reckless behavior amusing. Misinformed customers and wrongly accused co-workers certainly won’t be laughing.

Since your group intervention failed to produce results, it’s time to make this a management problem. You and your colleagues should give the jokester’s boss some examples of his fabricated documents and explain how you know he’s the author. Unless his manager is equally childish, that should put an immediate end to these obnoxious pranks.

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