View Full Version : dealing wtih two-faced staff

Zoe Girl
6-16-11, 9:57am
So I was sooo looking forward to summer camp, I still am having fun with a lot of it and want to deal with issues so that it can be more fun for all of us (the kids are having a blast and that is most important).

I have 12 staff plus subs, 2 shifts during the day and 'theme team' that comes in and does our activities on a rotating schedule over the summer. For morning and afternoon I have a lead teacher (LT) each shift. On field trip days we all work pretty much the whole field trip and we have to juggle a bus that takes 2 trips to get us toand from the field trip. There are some glitches and the morning needs to get ready faster so I am working on changes (like not put any of the chronic late kids on the 1st bus)

In any case the morning LT has been sweet to my face, she told me the other day that I was doing a great job. This is my first year doing summer camp so I ask a lot of questions about what has been done before (and get 14 answers lol). Then I decide on one thing and we do that. I changed one thing about checking in kids in the morning, I was having the LT do it but I get called over 6-7 times for a parent who needs me specifically so I decided to do it myself. Other things I make sure I am checking up on, like asking the LT who is scheduled to do a specific task.

After the morning the other day I found out that my morning LT called my supervisor and had her come over to tell her I was on a 'power trip'. I came back to the school when I found out that my supervisor was there and found out what she was told. So now I need to talk to my LT about this, including going over my head and saying that when pretty much anything they have needed since the first day of camp I have gotten for them within 24 hours. That is me being in charge, things get done well. And my supervisor thinks LT is just having a hard time not being in charge of everything.

And I am wondering about how to handle this specific issue, she told me to my face I was doing a good job but then the next day goes over my head and says I am on a power trip. I think I am just going to say it (without emotion or anger) and tell her I am confused. I called today and told her that I will come early so we can talk tomorrow since today I am primarily supporting a friend with cancer treatments and already told the staff and my supervisor that I am available by phone but will only come for an emergency.

iris lily
6-16-11, 10:10am
... I think I am just going to say it (without emotion or anger) and tell her I am confused....

No. You are not confused. Don't play that you are. That is weak.

You are clear that your LT needs to talk with you about concerns on the job site. Make that statement to her again and again, calmly, talk about the chain of command.

I don't know that you can really forbid her from going over you head. Look, I never really tell my staff that they may not go over my head because what if I'm doing something that the top brass needs to know? Stealing, on drugs, etc etc? They need to report that. But I DO emphasize that we have a chian of command for getting things that they need to do their job and they need to follow that.

Properly YOUR supervisor should have told the LT that calling her out to the job site for trivial complaining, is NOT ACCEPTABLE. If your supervisor didn't do that and the only complaint was that you are on a "power trip" there are some serious management issues there, but hello, that's not unusual, most workplaces are dysfunctional in some ways.

Zoe Girl
6-16-11, 10:53am
Thank you Iris, I want to be more aware of the ways that I can inadvertantly make myself look weak and therefore make my job harder. I took a great class called 'civilized assertiveness for women' here in Denver and learned so much. Some things I learned were to not say "I'm sorry", especially in cases where you are just trying to soften the blow of a hard message. Like "I'm sorry you are doing such a poor job and I have to tell you." It really makes you appear more weak and doesn't always achieve the respect you are trying to show someone. Other phrases like 'pardon me' or 'my mistake' do not have the same effect.

Another thing I learned that has been invaluable is how to get attention in the middle of a meeting where you are being ignored (without looking crazy or reactionary). Just a simple stand up and place your hand in the middle of the table, smile and bring the meeting back to where it needs to be. Wow, I could have used that over the years. However since I learned a few other things I have not been in that situation again, funny.

I do think that I will tell my supervisor that if she gets any more calls from this staff person to ask if she has talked to me first. It does bother me, jumping the chain of command takes two people I know. I had staff try to do that during the school year. In one case I saw a great improvement in communication even though I had to facilitate a few meetings to get them started, I refused to take charge of it all and was just there as support.

So I am going over tomorrow morning and (still without emotion or anger) tell her that she said one thing to me and another to my supervisor. If she has a big enough concern to call over my head then she needs to talk to me first. If we cannot resolve it then she is always allowed to call anyone else, but the chain of command needs to be respected as I have done with her and the people she supervises. Sound better?

6-16-11, 12:47pm
Another alternative is to do nothing. You have already been told what she said by your supervisor. You have gotten information here that you would not have gotten otherwise. People jump chains of command when they feel they are not being listened to, or have tried to communicate with the higher up in the past and have failed. I think it is an unhealthy environment that insists on chain of command communication to the exclusion of communication; for whatever reason, she felt strongly enough to go over your head, so one option is to just know that she feels this way, know that you are doing a good job, and know that she does not feel comfortable communicating directly with you. You can't order someone into feeling comfortable with you. Sometimes the best approach is to let it lay.

And that is just another way of looking at the situation. I would not be inclined to flame this into a major drama, risking shutting down that person completely. So I would not be confrontational over this.

I am facing some similar things at work and I am choosing to go this route. It's just a different style, and may not be your style. I am practicing letting their negativity flow through me, without making me defensive or feeling the need to fight back, since their negativity has more to do with them than with me, and I am modeling the change I want to see--positivity in the work place and freedom to communicate.

Zoe Girl
6-18-11, 10:25am
Okay I kinda did the do nothing approach. My first response to my supervisor was that I can't change her perception of me and so I won't try. But I did sit down and talk to her. It was very interesting. I heard kinda the opposite which was what I have been hearing from her from day one. So she wants me to be the one who tells the staff they need to wear gloves to serve snack (my sup said she is beign nit picky, the snack is in sealed portions after all) or get everyone to sign up for a day to do camp rally, not her. I was able to explain that during the school year I talk to my lead teacher if I see an issue and let them talk to staff because it respects the chain of command and supports their authority, but I can switch to taking charge when I am there if that is her way of doing it. I did emphasize I will do it my own way however, not hers, so that may not be what she likes.

So a good friend who does not work there pointed out she basically wants me to be the bad guy. Yup, handle all the hard stuff that comes up. Okay, I can do that. but friends are here for breakfast