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Santo B
Santo B, Social Worker
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 83
Experience:  Clinical Social Work
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I work for the federal government in DC. A once temporary

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I work for the federal government in DC. A once temporary supervisor has been hired as my permanent supervisor (after several people rotated through the position). Let's call him Mark. During his temporary tenure, Mark betrayed my trust and, furthermore, made an error that he could have avoided had he listened to me rather than to two colleagues who know little about my area of expertise. These two colleagues talked to him behind my back without talking to me first. He accepted their assessment and wouldn't listen to me even when I quoted regulations verbatim. Mark's mistake was egregious enough for me to inform him of my dissent, in writing, and my intention to take it to a senior adviser to the Secretary of my agency (this was a jump from the lowest level supervisor - Mark - to the Office of the Secretary. She (the senior adviser) agreed with my interpretation and told Mark and my colleagues that I was correct and they needed to correct their error. Now this same man has been selected to be my group supervisor. I do not want to pretend that what happened never happened. I'd rather tell him that I will try my best to work with him for the best. But I also want him to know that in relationships once trust is violated (as it was here) it is almost impossible to regain. What are your thoughts on my best way to approach this? His first official day on the job is tomorrow.   Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.

Santo B :

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I hold a Clinical Master's Degree in Social Work with a focus on Adult Mental Health. I currently provide general Life Coaching.

Santo B :

Please allow me a moment to read your question.

Santo B :

Ok. I am not certain whether Mark knows that you spoke with someone higher than him for feedback on the error that he made, but I would suggest that you begin the relationship with a clean slate. I am not certain if your agency has a standard of practice regarding how often a regular supervision session is scheduled, but I think it best that you discuss with Mark during a formal supervision session your concerns with what he did prior to being hired as your supervisor.

Santo B :

I would suggest you speak with him in private, and make certain you respect the chain of command and hierarchy. Some agencies/companies place great emphasis on the chain of command, and many companies/agencies expect that you speak with your direct supervisor about an issue before going to someone other than your direct supervisor.

Santo B :

I see that you are offline. I will switch to a Q&A format, and you can ask additional questions and voice concerns there. I will also follow up with you in a couple days if I don't hear from you.

Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

What happens now?

If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I respond to your questions below:


Ok. I am not certain whether Mark knows that you spoke with someone higher than him for feedback on the error that he made, but I would suggest that you begin the relationship with a clean slate.


Mark knows that I spoke with his superior. I follow chain of command, so I spoke with him first and asked him if he minded if I got an alternate opinion. He said "no" and so I did. I did discuss this matter with him in private later and he apologized. I am not however detailing other matters here. In fact, I am not the only person on the staff that had concerns about his behavior.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Continuing...




I would suggest you speak with him in private, and make certain you respect the chain of command and hierarchy. Some agencies/companies place great emphasis on the chain of command, and many companies/agencies expect that you speak with your direct supervisor about an issue before going to someone other than your direct supervisor.



Again, I did speak with him in private and I followed chain-of-command (I used to work for the Air Force as a civilian engineer).



In general, I agree with starting mattes with a "clean slate." Unfortunately, I gave Mark several chances to talk to me directly and understand my point of view rather than listen to two people who don't have my training. This matter involved tribal relationships and required the advice of an expert. That is why I had to go directly to the agency's Tribal Relations Office and skip over several other levels of supervisors who have no detailed knowledge of Tribal relations. We have been sued because of incorrect actions before.



(Actually, if you re-read my question, you will see that I have already stated much of this).



Listen, I know people change, but only if they actually want to do so. But for now, I do not trust him and it will be very difficult for me to pretend that all is forgiven. Actions speak louder than words and he'll have to earn my trust. In the meantime, for me to pretend that trust is no longer an issue would be a lie to myself (and him).






Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I spoke with another "JustAnswer" expert on this issue soon after it happened. What follows is a lengthy transcript, FYI...







This is a "high stakes issue" regarding choices made in a project and my written dissent for the record on those choices which I sent to my boss. He disagreed with my decision and replied in writing with his dissent. This is all fairly low level stuff withing the federal government. However, the dispute was significant enough (regarding INTERgovernmental relations) so that I told him I thought it best to take it to a very high level to a BIG BOSS. This particular BIG BOSS is an assistant to the Secretary of the Department of (Blank), my agency-Executive Department (cabinet level). I visited her HQ office in DC and had a long, friendly and wandering discussion with the BIG BOSS that lasted about 1 hour. She listened, reviewed emails and laws, and agreed with my position and (strongly) disagreed with my boss. She sent an email to him indicating her strong disagreement , cc'd several of his high level superiors, and cc'd select members of the team working on the project. My boss is now demanding that I give him details of our dicussion. (He believes I withheld important informantion--I didn't, and BIG BOSS knows the full story). I could answer him, but considering that we discussed wide ranging issues in a private conversation, I'm reluctant. Must I divulge what what we discusssed? Would it be appropriate to cc the BIG BOSS on his questions and my answer? (I could first write an email to him indicating that I will answer only if I can include the BIG BOSS in my answer for reasons of...eh...courtesy...propriety...fairness...other...). Thank you.

 


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State/Country relating to question: DC




















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You have rated an Answer!





Friday, November 18, 2011 2:44 PMEST






rayanswers :

Thanks for your question and good afternoon.



rayanswers :


Why not tell your supervisor here that the big boss asked you to keep the discussion confidential and to refer any questions to him.And consider a short memo to the big boss confirming that you understood your conversation was to be confidential and that you advised anyone with questions to direct those to him.



rayanswers :

I agree that this was intended to be a confidential and private conversation with big boss and it ought ot remain that way.



rayanswers :

Your supervisor may not like it but he can take it up with big boss if he has questions here.



rayanswers :

They cannot take adverse action against you for such a position especially if you e-mail the big boss here that you have done so.



rayanswers :

If you have a follow-up question, please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other clients or taking a break.




 




Please remember to click the ACCEPT button so that I can get credit for the answer. Leaving a BONUS (tip) & POSITIVE FEEDBACK after you accept is very much appreciated.




 




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Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information and no attorney client relationship has been formed. You should always contact a local attorney for legal advice.




 



rayanswers :


Unless the big boss authorizes you to discuss the matter this is the way in my mind to force supervisor to take it up with the big boss.



rayanswers :

And besides as you state she reviewed other sources in reaching the decision that was made.



rayanswers :

And I do believe as I think you do that the big boss here intended this to be a confidential conversation and not discloseable to others.unless he tells you otherwise.



<div class="JA_chatAskerMessage"Customer:

Hmm...how about this, "Dear boss, the conversation I had with BIG BOSS was a confidential and private one. Please direct any questions to her. I have told her of my position on this" (I'll email BIG BOSS and tell her my position before emailing boss).... Another thing, when boss responded to me, he cc'd his demand to his immediate supervisor, the team leader, and others (but not BIGBOSS) and demanded a response. I plan to only respond to him and the team leader. Make sense?



rayanswers :

This is a good response and allows you to respond here and maintain privacy of the conversation.I wish you good luck.



rayanswers :

This is a good way to deal with all of this and a logical way to do it.



rayanswers :

Thanks for letting me chat with you and I hope this resolves the matter.























You replied




Friday, November 18, 2011 4:06 PMEST





I have a problem here...BIGBOSS needs to be able to speak to others (with discretion) regarding our conversation (otherwise, she cannot effect change within the organization. For instance, she should be able to talk about my written dissent and reasons for dissention). The final deal: I don't want to talk to my boss about the conversation but I want BIGBOSS to have wide discretion regarding what to discuss (I trust her).


 


How can I make this work?














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You have received an Answer!





Friday, November 18, 2011 4:34 PMEST




I agree by forwarding supervisor to big boss you should be out of this.If the big boss wants to discuss it with supervisor fine but at least supervisor has to get it out of the big boss.The big boss may tell them he isn't going to discuss the matter or big boss.for that matter your supervisor may be afraid to raise it as an issue.But again you at least funeled it to the big boss and thats the big boss's call.I wish you good luck here with all of this.I think this offers you the most protection sending the memo you set out above.




















You replied




Friday, November 18, 2011 5:00 PMEST





Here is what I sent to BIGBOSS already:


 


I will respond to my boss by indicating our conversation was confidential and he can direct questions to you.


(I’m trying to give you broad discretion while placing a limit on my own speech about our conversation…tricky).


 


Here is what I plan to send to my boss:


I consider the conversation I had with BIGBOSS confidential. I believe she feels the same. But I cannot speak for her. Please direct any questions about the conversation to BIGBOSS.

(Rather than including a large number of people in this dialogue, I am responding directly to you. You may forward this response if you wish to do so.)


Thoughts?












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You have rated an Answer!





Friday, November 18, 2011 5:08 PMEST




I think this is fine.It directs it away from you and toward big boss here which is what you want to do for your protection in all of this.Afterall the big boss here has the right to make the final decision not you.Good luck this may go away here in time hopefully.




















You replied




Friday, November 18, 2011 5:20 PMEST




Great! I am set. Thank you, Ray.





Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.
I am not saying that you should make believe that there is a trusting relationship, but to enter the professional relationship with many issues may cause further issues in the future.

Do you believe that he did this as a personal attack on you? It seems as though you are angry with him. Also, professional relationships are built on a number of things, professional courtesy and mutual respect being one of them.

It also seems as though he made a mistake. People in newly appointed positions tend to do that. How long has he been on the job? If he is new to the agency and to the profession, there may be times that he messes up. He will need your expertise in the future, and I believe that starting the supervisor/subordinate relationship with your best foot forward is important.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was very upset, Santo. However, I spoke with another staff member ("Larry") under Mark's supervision and he, too, has had similar issues with this man. So it's not just me. Larry, like me, is a person of color. And we both are better (at least formally) educated than our new supervisor (Larry has a PhD in agricultural engineering. I have a Masters in chemical and environmental engineering. The supervisor, Mark, has a B.S. in Biology).
The new supervisor is actually not new to this area of work. He has been doing this work for at least 10-15 years.
I've seen this dynamic before in my life. Sometimes it does hinge on ethnicity/race. I no longer have the patience to for behavior that may be predicated on prejudice .
So, yes, I am deeply suspicious of this behavior because I have seen it too often.
Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.
I understand. I simply am trying to provide you information on how to navigate the situation as professionally as possible. I realize that this can be a stressful dynamic, and it makes you feel incredibly uneasy at work but unfortunately he is your supervisor and you do not want to jeopardize your employment with this agency or career.

I have found, as a supervisor and a subordinate that it is best to do your job to the best of your ability and that is all that could be asked of you. If in fact your new supervisor is treating you inappropriately based on your race/ethnicity, than it is your duty to report it to the proper party in your agency so the issue can be rectified.

If it is not just you that is dealing with the unfair treatment, than it shouldn't be a problem if you decided to report it to the proper channels to ensure that you nor anyone else deal with this improper treatment.
Santo B, Social Worker
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 83
Experience: Clinical Social Work
Santo B and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.
I am just checking in with you to see if any of the suggestions we spoke about worked. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Expert:  Santo B replied 2 years ago.
I am just checking in with you to see if any of the suggestions we spoke about worked. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

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