Make us your home page
Instagram

Career Q&A: Stay alert to colleague's unsettling behavior

Q: I am beginning to feel uneasy about one of my co-workers. "Bob" was recently hired as a maintenance man at the large hotel where I work. I'm in the housekeeping department, and my job primarily involves doing laundry. Bob frequently wanders into the laundry room even though he has no reason to be there.

Whenever Bob is in my work area, he constantly stares at me. He never talks to me directly, but mumbles some words that I can't understand. According to my co-workers, he keeps asking about my social activities and whether I have a regular boyfriend.

Although Bob makes me uncomfortable, I'm not sure what to do about it. He has never said anything offensive, so I don't know whether I have grounds to complain. Should I report this or just keep it to myself?

A: Bob might be a harmless fellow who is hopelessly shy around women or he could be a potential stalker. Based on the available evidence, there's really no way to tell. But since he seems to be showing an inappropriate interest in your personal life, you need to play it safe and let someone know about his creepy behavior.

In a large hotel, the human resources manager is probably the best person to address your concerns. Request that this conversation be kept confidential, then explain the reasons for your discomfort. Without seeking details, ask whether Bob's pre-employment screening included a criminal background check.

Since Bob hasn't actually done anything wrong, a reprimand would be unwarranted. But there might be a way to reduce his visits to your area. Without mentioning your name, the HR manager could simply suggest to Bob's supervisor that he needs to spend less time in housekeeping.

Tell your colleagues not to share any information with Bob, but to let you know if he asks questions. Whenever he's around, avoid doing anything to either encourage or antagonize him. If you're lucky, he will eventually lose interest.

On the other hand, if his behavior escalates from creepy to alarming, you must advise HR immediately. Warning signs might include bringing you gifts, contacting you at home, or turning up at unexpected places. And if stalking ever becomes a possibility, then it's time to seek advice from the police.

Don't tell boss about perceived slights

Q: I am trying to decide whether I should bring up certain issues during my upcoming performance review. My boss works in another location, so I don't get many chances to talk with him, and a private phone conversation is impossible in our open office environment.

My first concern involves the staff biographies on our company website. Our manager submits these summaries whenever someone is hired, but I noticed that some have been updated to include recent family events and accomplishments. When I checked my own bio, however, I saw no mention of my children's activities. This was quite hurtful and upsetting.

The second issue relates to some football tickets that our boss received from a client. Instead of inviting the staff to attend, he shared them with several other managers, which seems very inconsiderate. Do you think I should discuss these concerns during my review?

A: The answer to your question is a very emphatic no. Because these issues have nothing to do with your work, they have absolutely no place in your performance review. Besides, using the appraisal discussion as a platform for criticizing your boss would be a really stupid career move.

On top of that, your assessment of these events is not exactly rational. Since your manager can hardly be expected to keep up with everyone's personal life, the staff profiles were undoubtedly updated at the request of those employees. As for the football game, his decision to invite management colleagues was in no way inappropriate.

Unfortunately, the real issue here is your apparent tendency to take things personally and get upset about trivial matters. Extreme hypersensitivity not only damages relationships, but also uses up a great deal of emotional energy that could be put to better use. So instead of giving feedback to your boss, perhaps you should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Career Q&A: Stay alert to colleague's unsettling behavior 11/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 5:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

    Airlines

    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    State data shows FHP troopers are not writing violations for speeding or other infractions like they did back in 2011, even though there's 1 million more licensed drivers in Florida.
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze

    Retail

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in

    Consumer

    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Law firm's Russia ties prove nothing about Trump

    Business

    The statement

    "Law firm @POTUS used to show he has no ties to Russia was named Russia Law Firm of the Year for their extensive ties to Russia. Unreal."

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stands during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016 in Washington. A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)