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Does a supervisor have to witness improper or incorrect work before taking action?

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Question: We have two supervisors in our location.  Neither will take action on anything unless they "witness" it.  Recently, two of us helped a third employee get ready for a presentation on the day of the event.  The work could have been completed earlier in the week.
I told my boss that she may want to ask how the presentation went, giving us the opportunity to explain that we did all the work for the other employee. She told me that she could not ask those types of questions, because she hadn't witnessed it.
Shouldn’t she, as a supervisor, have the right to ask how the presentation went and were there any problems, etc.?  So, how do issues get resolved?  Our supervisors rarely venture into our office, so they hardly ever witness what goes on. — Anonymous


Sounds to me like your supervisor is dancing around the issue and avoiding it. It would appear she's under the impression that all supervisors witness everything that takes place in the office. I see no harm in her asking those questions. After all, she IS a supervisor, although you didn't say if she is the supervisor for the individual who was initially responsible for the presentation. If she doesn't supervisor that individual, she may not want to step on toes. Have you considered approaching the individual who was initially responsible for this project and informing him/her that you don't mind helping out when you can, but not to always count on you for your assistance. Suggest he/she begin working on future projects sooner. Good Luck!!

Sounds like you need to excuse yourself in the middle of the "last minute" preparation craziness and request your boss join you and your colleagues, so that she can "witness" what you are talking about as it's happening.

Most supervisors are to busy to check on everything that goes on in the office. If they have off-site locations, they depend on the people running those locations to inform them of what is going on. Documenting things of this nature would help you out. It is so important to write things down while it's still fresh in our memory. If any action has to take place, and you have it in writing, that makes it more effective. This could be a reoccuring thing, but if you have not sent any information to the supervisor in writing, what proof do you have except word of mouth. Written documentations speaks volumes.

yes, the supervisor has a right to ask "those" questions. The "last minute" preparation craziness is just that crazy. I would excuse myself and request your boss join you and your colleagues, so that she can "witness" what you are talking about as it's happening. Otherwise, you are only going to drive yourself nuts with a non-proactive supervisor. I would also document everything. If this occurred I would email the person I would need to assist plus cc the supervisor on what the assistance is.

I agree with next time do not jump in to help out, then the supervisor will be able to witness the lack of work produced by the employee. It can be very difficult to manage sites that you do not work in so I would keep informing them as to what is going on. Also it sounds like you may be a valuable employee, it is always good to have an employee at a site who has the dedication to make sure things are done within policy. While not helping next time to make a point may be an option, I wouldn't suggest making it the norm for your behavior. You may not know how appreciated you are, and that other employee, something could be in the works for him/her also and it is confidential from you at this point. It at times may seem like nothing is being done but that is only because it is confidential between them and the employee. I would keep up the good work!

Sounds to me like all you are asking for is feedback to find out whether or not you did a good job, what kind of things should you change the next time you work on a presentation, etc.

I always ask my boss how a presentation went, whether I worked on it or not. It's just good feedback.

Your boss should not hesitate to question how the presentation went.

If you volunteered to help, you should have never mentioned anything to your boss. Some people work best under deadline pressure and it is not uncommon for a person to be able to come up with a winning presentation within a day. However, if this person habitually asks for help because they have procrastinated and look for others to bale them out; that is a different story. If the situation is the later, tell the person you are unable to help and let them take the heat for the terrible presentation.

In my opinion, a supervisor who refuses to get involved in something unless he or she actually sees the issue occur is a very weak supervisor. After all, what if it was a serious issue such as sexual harassment? "I didn't see it, so I can't investigate it" is an excuse that would be sure to cost that company millions of dollars in a lawsuit. But, on the other hand, a supervisor cannot possibly get involved in every single disagreement that occurs between co-workers. One of the primary reasons supervisors themselves fall so far behind at work is because they are called in to referee petty issues between co-workers. So if she refused to investigate because she didn't see it, then she shouldn't be a supervisor. But if she just used that as an excuse because she considers it to be so minor that she just doesn't have time, then I could completely understand that, but perhaps she could have been a little more honest and said something like, "I just don't have time for something like that this week. If it keeps on happening, then let me know."

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