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When a clique shifts the workload, it’s time to see HR

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in Your Office Coach

Q: "My supervisor has created a 'good old girls' network in our office. Her favored employees are allowed to take long coffee breaks, make personal calls, spend time on the Internet, and run errands during office hours.

"The four outsiders are denied these privileges. Instead, we are given extra assignments and receive little help with our problems. The supervisor even gossips about us to people in the 'in-group'. This unfair treatment is creating a lot of resentment.

"Some outsiders want to take this issue to the human resources manager. Do you think he could help?"

A: Only a highly immature supervisor would allow herself to become part of a clique in her own work group, so your childish boss clearly needs leadership coaching. If the HR manager could provide some, meeting with him might be a good idea.

To increase your odds of being taking seriously, encourage all the “outsiders” to participate in this discussion. Explain that standards are being applied inconsistently and that your supervisor’s exclusionary behavior is creating a rift among co-workers.

Then suggest some specific action steps. For example, you might recommend an evaluation of how work assignments are made or propose some training for your supervisor. Even if the HR manager has other ideas, he should still appreciate your solution-oriented attitude.

If this intervention works, you may eventually have a better boss. But if not, you will at least have made management aware of the problem.

If you're thinking of complaining about your manager, read this first: Should You Complain About Your Boss?

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