A new woman joined our company a few months ago, and she immediately clashed with our line manager. Since then, the atmosphere in our office has changed, and the new woman has been singled out for criticism and personal attacks by our manager (I’ve always got on with her, but I know she can be bitchy). I feel caught in the middle, but I don’t know whether I should make a fuss.
Lucy Beresford replies: Walking on eggshells is never any fun, but at work it can affect morale and maybe performance. First, let’s check: are you really in the middle? Or do you work in a team of 40? I merely ask because sometimes we can imagine that it’s our place to do something when really it’s just our way to feel involved or un-ignored. Middle children in families often grow up to be these kinds of people, if you get my drift.
But bullying (which is what this sounds like) is unacceptable anywhere, so let’s say your working environment is being adversely affected. You really have three main options. One is to ignore the problem and let the two adults deal with it. Second, you could side with the new woman and report the line manager to her own boss. For this, you might need to keep a diary of incidents and personal attacks. The other option is to stand up to your line manager yourself.
But, before any of this, you need to find out how the new woman feels about it all. Is she struggling? Does she want help? Or does she relish the cut and thrust of it all? It’s possible that, if you chat to her privately, she may have a different take on things from you. Or maybe not. But at least you’ll know whether ‘making a fuss’ would be appreciated or declined by the person truly in the middle.
What would you do? Add your comments below.
Email your dilemmas to firstname.lastname@example.org