Step Away From the Text Messages

by Evil HR Lady on April 11, 2014

I got two emails in a row yesterday in which the employee texted obnoxious things to a manager and former manager. In the first scenario, the employee thought it was unfair that the manager was writing her up for insubordination because she texted on her private phone to his private phone when neither of them were at work. In the second case, the employee was fired for not showing up, but then heard the manager was telling lies about her so proceeded to text her repeatedly telling her how awful she was for lying. Surprisingly, this manager now gives out horrible references.

Look, life is sometimes unfair. Sometimes bosses are jerks, but they are still bosses. And if you don’t want to be written up, or given a bad reference you have to play nice.

For some reason, people think that texting is not like real communication. It is. And yes, it can be held against you. You shouldn’t be texting your boss after hours for anything that is not work related. You don’t need to “confront” your boss because you “heard” that she said something about you. If it is that concerning, this is something you discuss face to face, “Jane, I was told that you said I did x. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but I wanted to double check with you to make sure there’s no misunderstanding.” Sending a text that says, “Stop talking trash about me!” is not going over well.

Put down the phone. Walk away.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel April 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

While I fundamentally agree that texting was not the best solution,the “Sometimes bosses are jerks, but they are still bosses. And if you don’t want to be written up, or given a bad reference you have to play nice,” is part of the problem in business today. Those are threats, creating hopeless, motivation through fear and just some of the characterisitcs in The Sociopathic Business Model. EEOC claims were at an all time high with retaliation cited the number one claim. There is clearly much more to this story but 38,000 people filing claims isn’t a trend, it’s a serious problems entrenched in management.

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Evil HR Lady April 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

It would be great if there were no bad managers, but bad managers are going to be vindictive, so being a jerk back will always backfire.

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Mel April 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

I agree, I’d just like to see HR take a more active role in protecting the employees and removing bad managers from the system.

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Evil HR Lady April 11, 2014 at 11:43 am

I totally agree. Unfortunately, there are lots of problems with HR. It’s one thing that I work diligently to fix.

Of course, the senior managers should be very aware of what their junior managers are doing and work with HR to handle it.

In the emails I mentioned above, both managers were low level fast food or retail supervisors. Their training probably consisted of watching a video and being handed a handbook to read, which they didn’t.

This is a huge failure on HR’s part.

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Mel April 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I believe we are on the same side of a very big problem. Thanks for bringing clarity to what type of managers were involved. I was thinking high level corporate.

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Charles April 13, 2014 at 4:01 am

Ha! I kind of suspected that this involved fast-food manager/workers some how or other.

Also, if the manager didn’t want to be contacted by text on his private phone, then, how on earth, did the employee get his phone number?

I wonder if he “gave” his number to the employee why calling/texting the employee on their phone first on a previous occasion. Something along the lines of, “we need your phone number, employee, in case we need to call you to come into work at a moments notice.”

When employees act unprofessionally I usually suspect managers of setting the tone first. It is rare, although it does happen, that employees act out first.

After all, if a manager yells at or “acts out” against an employee for the first time what’s the worst that could happen? Be “written up” by HR? It will take several “write ups” before any of consequence happens to that manager.

But, if an employee yells at or acts up against a manager for the first time he could be fired, on the spot, and most employees are aware of this imbalance of power.

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EngineerGirl April 12, 2014 at 12:16 am

That won’t happen until a paradigm shift. Most HR folks will tell you that they are there to support management. Which means taking it out on the worker.
HR needs to see itself as supporting the company – which means getting rid of the bad managers that cause so many problems. Until this happens HR will always get a bad rap.

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Evil HR Lady April 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm

That is absolutely true. I always say HR’s job is to “help the business” which sometimes means firing bad managers.

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Vicki April 13, 2014 at 8:53 am

I don’t think Mel was suggesting being a jerk back. She (like me) bemoans the status quo. bad managers should be Fired. Instead, they are kept (or promoted), while the individual contributors leave them in droves. Common knowledge is that “People join companies; they leave managers.”.

Writing “Sometimes bosses are jerks, but they are still bosses.” just plays into the problem.

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Irene April 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Just want you to know how much I enjoy your posts, EvilHRLady! I am a better and happier employee because of the things I’ve learned from you. It brightens my day to hear about all the terrible bosses, horrible coworkers and other office jerks and how to deal with them. And more especially, how NOT to be one if them. My bosses LOVE me and tell me constantly what great work I’m doing (I’m an ER nurse) and I don’t do anything special except show up on time, be polite and responsible, focus on the work in front of me, and try to lighten the load a bit. Thanks for using your evil powers for good!

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Evil HR Lady April 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Irene, that is about the sweetest thing ever! I do hope I use my powers for good.

I only wish I had more powers.

It’s amazing how doing hte little things like showing up on time will win you praise from the powers that be.

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Jim April 12, 2014 at 4:22 am

As a General Manager, if one of my assistant managers wanted to write up an employee for insubordination for sending them a critical text message, I would most likely veto it. My rule has always been if a staff member has a grievance to air or a criticism to make with management, they are free to do so privately with no fear of retaliation. People who cannot take criticism have no business leading others, IMHO.

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Evil HR Lady April 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm

First, I applaud your insight. Second, though, I would write up an employee for insubordination if his feedback was “you are a bleepity-bleep jerk!”

We all need to be nice, mangers and employees.

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Katie April 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Great insight all around on a sticky situation! I have to agree that the best way to address an issue with a manager would be in person. If you’re looking to maintain a relationship both present and in the future; open, mindful, communication is key!

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Ryan April 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

You wouldn’t want your boss texting you at home about work-related issues. Why would you expect the boss to take it well? Work related issues should be handled at work and dealt with face to face dialogue. Schedule a meeting with the manager and talk about the issues. Maybe even ask that another manager or HR manager be present for the meeting.

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Joshua Hill May 1, 2014 at 11:32 pm

While I definitely agree that texting is never the best way to handle a situation especially one that is work related. Bosses have a job to do and sometimes they are not to patient or understanding. But we still have to realize the boss is still the one in charge and we can not get carried away with our complaints or our relationships. If you do not wan to risk your job or being written up you have to be aware of your actions and do your best to limit personal issues especially through written forms of communication. it is clear that we haven’t been given all of the details; however, this is a serious problem and is becoming a common occurrence in management.

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Jennifer August 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm

What I’m not seeing here is any consequence for calling in sick and just not coming in. Are there points for that? If not, then a person should be able to know in the morning that they’re too sick to work, and just stay home. Burn sick time but not get points against them.

It’s not addressed in the scenario laid out by Ms. Evil, but she may have edited for length?

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