General Question

knitfroggy's avatar

How do you think is the best way to deal with a new coworker that is overstepping their boundaries?

Asked by knitfroggy (8926points) April 22nd, 2009

I work as a supervisor in a retail store. We got a new supervisor and she is really sick with power. It’s hilarious-we are supervising cashiers at a retail store, not saving lives or doing anything remotely important. This chick will come tell me when it’s time for me to go to lunch, take a break, or how to do my job. It’s really irritating. What do you think is the best way to deal with this aside from a good ol’ bitch slap? Of course I would like to try and deal with this on my own, in a nice way and come out being able to get along with her.

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18 Answers

Staalesen's avatar

Talk to her, or to HR…

KalWest's avatar

My first reaction would be to tell her to fuck off… my more measured reaction – would also be to go to HR ;-)

squirbel's avatar

Talk to HR, and have them be an arbiter in the situation.

You don’t know her past experience, and it sounds like she actually takes pride in her job and is focused on doing what’s best for the company. It sounds like she’s making sure the place runs smoothly, with carefully planned breaks and lunches so that the store is never short staffed, resulting in poor customer service.

It sounds like you may not feel what you do is important, but then, you may not be promotion material. Someone who wants to be promoted takes the company seriously, and does what they can to help it grow and move forward. People who sound like you “just work there”.

I say all this to say that there are differing points-of-view. You two will need an arbiter to come to terms. That’s why HR is the most professional way to handle this.

Facade's avatar

@squirbel C’mon now. It’s a retail store.

Likeradar's avatar

The new co-worker may be annoying, but what would you complain to HR about? “So-and-so is acting like this job is important!” If there isn’t a set break schedule and she’s pulling the schedule out of her ass, you could find a polite way of telling her to worry about herself. But if she’s sticking to the schedule set by a higher-up, then thank her for the reminder.

I agree with @squirbel. This person takes her job more seriously than you do. Jobs are becoming more and more difficult to come by, and she sees hers as something worth working hard at.

dynamicduo's avatar

@Facade In my experience, the lower you go on the job ladder, the more silly politics and games you find. My McDonald’s had so much drama and politics in it, it felt like a sick parody of what work is supposed to be (felt a lot like an episode of Degrassi, actually). My current job at a technology company has zero politics whatsoever. Retail is one step above fast food, I wouldn’t be surprised to see people like this there.

@knitfroggy, you have the right to a positive working environment, so if this new person is truly intruding and imposing versus getting to know the work culture, I can understand the problems you are facing. So long as she is your equivalent and not your superior, she has no right to tell you when to take your lunch break or how to do your job. I would usually recommend going to HR in such situations but because the job is low on the ladder I actually would recommend at least one personal interaction before taking it higher. If I were in your situation, the next time she told me what to do, I would politely and firmly tell her that she is in no position to make such demands. I would not say anything personal, simply say that micromanaging you is not a part of her job requirement, and you would like such behaviour to stop. After one interaction, if she continued or became worse, I would then go to my boss, and to their boss if my concerns were dismissed or ignored. Of course, if the situation was not resolved (if the person kept micromanaging me or my boss allowed it to happen), I would end up quitting the job because I simply cannot work around idiots…. if you need to keep the job, perhaps a different approach would be best.

I do agree that the person is taking their job more seriously. I was a serious job person back when I was a manager at McDonald’s, which was in contrast to the rest of the management team who slept and did drugs with each other and rode drama llamas all day long (I couldn’t make this up). Some people there found me to be obnoxious or a “do gooder”, questioning why I would do the job right, why put effort in cleaning any equipment when “it would just get dirty the next day”. But I took pride in accomplishing more and higher quality work in less time, and I gained a reputation for being an efficient worker and would have people volunteering to do closes with me cause they knew we’d be out of there five minutes after twelve.

The reason I am sharing this story with you is because I know what it’s like to have pride in doing a shitty mundane pointless job, and I remember the occasional friction this elicited when I would tell a crew member to stop chatting and do work, or to tell someone how to do their job better. I’m not saying you are this type of person at all! The simple fact was that I was hired to do the job, so I put 100% into that job, even if it was the shittiest job I’ve ever done (the difference in my case was that I was a manager whose job it was to continually improve the crew while running the restaurant, I can’t see the new supervisor being in this position in your situation). At the same time, I respected anyone who came and talked to me, both those who actively solicited my advice and those who requested to be “taken off the mailing list”. This is why I believe you and her should have one discussion before taking this anywhere else, in where you respectfully express your desire to not be micromanaged.

Of course, if she’s a power hungry crazy person, all bets are off.

squirbel's avatar

@Facade: I was raised with the saying “If you’re a street sweeper, be the best damn street sweeper there is. If you’re a rocket scientist, be the best damn rocket scientist there is.”

That makes a lot of sense to me.

cwilbur's avatar

Following rules mainly for the sake of following rules is just asinine.

The really important thing in any job is that the job gets done well. If that’s happening, it really doesn’t matter when people take breaks or when people go to lunch, and attempting to dictate those things when the job is going well and there’s no reason to dictate them is just silly.

“Being the best supervisor there is” means making sure the work gets done well, not being a petty tyrant about when people can go outside for a smoke break or run to the bathroom.

knitfroggy's avatar

I take pride in my job, I love my job-I was just meaning that we weren’t saving lives and this girl thinks she is so “powerful” now. I don’t want to go to someone else if I have to…and I don’t know how to tell her to back off and know her place without overstepping my own boundaries. I make really decent money and am I promotion material, I was promoted to where I am now and plan to go further.

jca's avatar

unfortunately, i do think that a supervisor is in a position to schedule people’s breaks and lunches, if they feel it’s necessary. i know it’s unpleasant, and i have worked for power hungry assholes, also, and maybe your job did run smoothly without the person prodding you and others to take breaks but i don’t think that is outside the realm of their responsibilities. This may be an incentive for you to move up so that you’re not having to deal with this pettiness at this level.

jca's avatar

let us know how it turns out.

augustlan's avatar

I would simply remind her that the two of you are equals, and that you are capable of taking your breaks without a reminder. I’d do it in a nice way, with a smile.

jca's avatar

My Fault: i didn’t get the part where you’re both supervisors. OK, since she is the same as you are, I would (now this is just me) remind her in a nice way but a little sassy “Wait a minute. Aren’t we the same title?” I agree wholeheartedly with Augustlan. I overlooked that you are both supervisors.

Facade's avatar

I didn’t know you both had the same title either. yea, she shouldn’t boss you around.

Jeruba's avatar

Can you please define the boundaries you are speaking about? Is she your peer, or do you report to her, or is she in another chain of command?

knitfroggy's avatar

@Jeruba She is the same level as I am, except brand new and I’ve been at it about a year.

Jeruba's avatar

If you both report to the same manager, I would think that is the person to talk to.

In the meantime, when she tries to give you orders, why not just say that you report to <manager> and take your direction from her? and that if there are things you need to decide between you in order to coordinate your efforts, you are willing to meet on an equal footing and discuss the best way to work them out?

jca's avatar

you know what i would do, passive aggressive me? i would not take the break when she said to, and if she said something, or later when i was on my break if she said why are you on a break now, didn’t you go before, i would then say no, and that would make the opportunity to tell her that i don’t take orders from her.

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