Back off, buddy!

Question:

I was walking down the hallway when one of the supervisors yelled, “You’re needed in here,” and gestured for me to go into our copier room. I entered and saw our easily intimidated administrative assistant looking like she wanted to be anywhere but in that small room.

“What’s up?” I asked, moving toward her. The male supervisor, who is 6 foot, 2 inches in height, slammed the door behind him and stood in front of the room’s only exit. He advanced toward me, shaking his finger at me and said, “You are not invited to the meeting.”

“You just asked me in here.”

“This meeting,” he said, shoving a memo at me. He was talking about an interdepartmental function. I told him that I had no intention of attending, but had asked the administrative assistant to cc: me on the Outlook message so I could advise catering of the need for coffee and donuts. By now, the administrative assistant was crying.

He glowered at me, shook his fist at her and said “Don’t f— up again.”

After he stomped out of the room, I consoled the administrative assistant and let my manager know what had happened. The next day I followed up with my manager who said, “He said you blew it out of proportion.” Did I? He cornered two women in a room and stood in front of the only exit. I’d like to go to HR because this is only one incident in a series of issues where this guy throws his weight around — literally.

Answer:

You didn’t blow it out of proportion. This supervisor did five things wrong. He jumped to a conclusion. He cussed. He yelled. He stood in front of the room’s only exit while he dressed down two individuals. When you made it clear he’d leaped to an erroneous conclusion, he threatened the administrative assistant rather than apologizing.

This type of boorish behavior ruins the work environment. If your manager lets the supervisor’s “they blew it out of proportion” excuse serve as the last word, the manager compounds the mistakes. What should the manager have done instead? She should have more thoroughly questioned the supervisor, and then let him know he needed to rein himself in and not repeat these behaviors.

You can show her this column, or you can visit HR and describe the scene to someone who can look into it. There’s good news here, however. This supervisor isn’t a very good intimidator because he didn’t succeed in scaring you.

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