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When the Personnel Manager took me to lunch -- I told her that I was insulted and subjected to racism by two employees...
An office memo regarding employees behavior was sent out the following day after the luncheon. I was not sure if I caused it or this is something of a coincidence.
My question is: Did I do the right thing to voice out my concerns? Was I too frank in admitting that I was glad to see them go? Is this done in bad taste? Should I have just say that the two guys were unhappy and I was there at the wrong time? Well, thank you and please tell me if I was wrong and if I violated any etiquette.
It is obviously more important to report such behaviour when the person involved is still employed by the company, but it sounds like it was helpful to you to share your experience with the Personnel Manager. It was likely a welcome affirmation for the Personnel Manager as well of his or her judgment about having fired one of these persons.
When you are speaking to someone, particularly someone in a position of authority about a co-worker you should first ask yourself two questions. 1) Could I take a first step to address this behaviour? And 2) Why am I telling this?
If both employees are no longer with the firm the answer to the first question is obviously 'No.' But if they were still employed, you might consider whether a quiet, private word that you find their behaviour offensive might be enough to deal with the situation. Or you might be the type of person who is comfortable being more direct, perhaps by calling them on their inappropriate behaviour whenever it comes up.
The second question is one worth considering as well. Sometimes in telling about the inappropriate behaviour of others we are getting some frustration out of our system, or letting others know what our boundaries and expectations are, or letting those in authority know what we expect in terms of workplace behaviour that we will tolerate. At other times our motivation may be more questionable. We might be gossiping or trying to ingratiate ourselves with management. When we feel that is what is at work then it is better not to tell management about the behaviour of co-workers.
As you point out the important thing is to find a way to work together co-operatively so that the task you are all responsible for can be accomplished in the most pleasant way possible.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian whose passion is helping people and organizations create better relationships and stronger communities by being clear, committed and collaborative in their approach to ethics and conflict. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
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