I have been with a small company for almost 5 years now. I was quite young when I began, and was initially brought on as an assistant to a program director. This was the first job I had after university, on the other side of the country from my home, friends and family. I am now a manager myself and report directly to the principal of the company as does my ex-boss. Lately it has become apparent that this director is pretty incompetent. Part of the exposure is due to the fact that I no longer assist/complete his work. I inadvertently mentioned to a co-worker how this director used to treat me, and now she insists she must do something.
My concern is around whether or not his behavior is criminal or if he is just ‘not a nice person’ to work with. Over the years there were some slight inappropriate behaviors, but nothing physical. Mainly off-handed comments about other people that made me feel uncomfortable. He was after all 40 years my senior. What really affected me for a long time was his mental abuse and manipulation. He wanted to mentor me, unbeknownst to the principal, for the director’s job. It was done in such a way, that I was supposed to feel lucky and do whatever he thought was required. I’ve combed through your site, and he fits the overly political animal to a tee! Very egotistical, is a master of words, premeditates situations, and would create scenarios in which I was tested. He went as far as to make fun of my clothes and accused me of having an affair with another co-worker.
Eventually, I informed him I could no longer move forward with this ‘mentorship’. I made it clear that I was interested in management, but not his way. Things began to change. Although he told management I would never be interested, I have since moved up on my own.
Is this the type of behavior someone can be reprimanded for or is it too intangible to report? I fear my co-worker is putting too much weight on the sexual harassment side, when in fact his crime was equally as appalling but more difficult to pinpoint.
Thanks so much,
No longer controlled
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY DR. RICK BRANDON AND DR. MARTY SELDMAN
Dear No longer controlled,
Well done to this point. You have handled an incredibly difficult situation in a mature, firm way and it seems to have been very effective. This does not mean that we would advise you to take it further. You seem to have analyzed this pretty close to how we would. This man is probably a skilled overly political person. Not all overly political people are. Some of them are transparent and make visible mistakes.
While this person is annoyingly patronizing and a borderline harasser we agree with your thought that the behavior is not clear enough to pursue the course of action your colleague is recommending. We say this for 2 reasons. One, the behavior may be so vague and subjective that it would be hard to prove. Two, there is a high risk that it would backfire. So our advice would be to tell your colleague that you do not want her to pursue it. You are now in a great position and it looks like he will not be bothering you going forward.
Should any negative behaviors towards you continue, then it would be good to start documenting what was said, written etc., and who witnessed it in case you decide to take action later. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Rick and Marty
Rick Brandon, Ph.D. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. Co-authors,
Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success
Rick Brandon, Ph.D. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. are Co-authors, Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success. Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America’s most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.