Apr 19, 2011
by by Julie Leutschaft
Question. I think I made a big mistake. Last Friday, I took my staff out for drinks after work. I had a few too many and kind of made a fool of myself and may have said some inappropriate comments, nothing off-color or of a harassing nature but I definitely feel embarrassed. How do I save face with my staff? -Joshua
Dear Josh –
Have you ever heard the sayings, “Don’t fish off the company dock” or “Don’t crap where you eat”? Both phrases would be apropos for this situation. Here is the bottom line, everyone likes a boss who can cut loose and blow off some steam and one they can relate to as a “common Joe” outside of work.
However, you have to be really careful because you may have said something that offended someone and even though you were off work time and off work premises this still can be construed as harassment if it comes back to the workplace to bite you. Harassment is more about perception then intent.
Even though you didn’t intend to harm or hurt your staff, some may have perceived that you have done just that. My advice is to honestly apologize to your staff. Own up to the fact that you may have overstepped. You need to draw that line in the sand. Find other ways to bond with your employees that doesn’t involve alcohol. Take them out to lunch. Honor them individually and show them authentic ways of appreciation to thank them for their contribution. Doing so will build intimacy and trust.
Show them your vulnerabilities and under belly every once in while – this shows you’re human and more approachable. For now, right the wrong and learn from experience.
Question. My boss has been giving me the cold shoulder lately. I used to be the “golden child” who could do no wrong. Now all of a sudden, I am on her bad side. Any advice? -Sharon
Dear Sharon – Well, try to think back if something recently happened that may have given your boss reason to change her attitude towards you. Also, does she tend to have a favorite for a while and then switch over to the newest shiny person? Maybe she is having a bad day. Ask yourself is this behavior is normally of “her character” or does it not seem in line with who she is as a person.
I would ask her directly. You can say something non confrontational such as “I noticed you have been quiet lately or it appears you haven’t given me as many assignments as usual” cite specific examples and give her the latitude to respond. Listen to what she says; you might gain some insight on how to improve the relationship. Be open and non-judgmental. In order for you to be reachable you have to be teachable.