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You never know when comments about others’ performance will resurface

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “In my unit, I hold the position of union coordinator, which is a liaison between management and employees. One of my responsibilities is to talk with the supervisor about productivity, so in the past I have been candid about individual performance issues. I didn’t expect this information to be used against anyone.

“Recently, however, our supervisor gave some performance warnings that seem based on my comments. Now I feel trapped in the middle of a conflict between management and my co-workers. I don’t know whether I should remain neutral or take a side, so I’m afraid to say anything. Do you have any advice?” No-Win Situation

A: Fortunately for you, the role of “coordinator” is probably defined by your union contract. Your obligation is to understand this definition and see that everyone involved respects it.

If the coordinator is supposed to be a neutral liaison, you will need to avoid taking sides. But if your role is to represent the interests of employees to management, then your “side” has been defined for you. To get clarification, talk with your union steward (or whoever is responsible for contract interpretation).

You must also determine whether you are supposed to give the supervisor feedback about individual employees. If so, your co-workers need to know that. But if not, then your supervisor must be told not to ask.

Clarifying your role can be a "critical career moment". Here are a few more: Ten Critical Career Moments.

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