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How do I tell my boss?


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Old 27th August 2016, 10:46 AM   #1
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How do I tell my boss?

I work for this small sized company which is co-owned by two men (Ben and Mike), Ben has a much larger share, hence more power. I report to Mike. Jenny was our hr manager and Mike's personal assistant who started working for the company since the very start of the company. It would seem that Mike and Jenny had a very good work relationship and obviously Mike relied on Jenny a lot over the years. Some staff even gossiped that the two are seeing each other, even though Mike and Jenny always behaved very professionally at work. I guess whether or not they are really dating, many people just like to gossip, especially in a family business-like environment. Two months ago, Mike and Ben hired another hr person (Sarah) which we thought was an addition to the hr department. However, a month later, to everyone's surprise, it's announced that Sarah is actually Jenny's replacement.

Now that Jenny is already gone, she tried to get in touch with some employees telling them that Sarah is not reliable, and was hired by Ben to attack her, kick her out of the company, that it's Ben's first step to ultimately take control over Mike as they started having problems doing business together. Her telling people this is causing lots of confusion, stress and worries in the office. Sarah is somehow already hated by many people, people are worried that they will be fired like Jenny, some even told me they planned on quitting...Even though what she said can be true, telling the employees is only causing unnecessary issues that the company and my boss will need to address, and perhaps it's now already hard to bring the fun work environment back to normal. Ben and Mike may be seeing what is changing in the company, but don't know where it's coming from, just yet. They don't have the 'access' to hearing the gossips in the office. And basically the managers report directly to Ben and Mike also don't.

I only knew about the gossips because generally many people would seek me out and confide in me in a lot of matters, professionally and personally. My boss, my subordinates, and people in other departments. I am telling you this because it is mainly why I am having the struggle I am telling you now. Mike is the best boss I have ever worked for. I have a very trusting professional relationship with Mike, so when he asked me to be his eyes and ears and tell him about any problems he is not aware, I want to help in any way I can. I think Mike deserves to know what Jenny is doing as it's really doing him and the company no good, and I think he is the only one that can tell her to stop. However, I am afraid if he knows, it will have some negative impact on their relationship, whether they are dating or not, and that's not something I wish to happen. But I can't just pretend I know nothing, because not only the boss who I have high respect for asked me to share with him about problems I see, I truly care for the people in my company.

What's your thoughts? Thanks in advance for reading my post and for your input. I really appreciate it.
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Old 27th August 2016, 11:22 AM   #2
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Has Jenny said anything to you directly, or is this hearsay from other co-workers? Do you know for a fact why Jenny was let go? What's her motivation for creating strife at her past employer rather than looking for a new job, or if she's found a new job, giving her new employer her full attention?

Your best bet would be to do your job well and maintain strong relationships with Ben, Mike, and your co-workers. Stop wasting your time on speculation and innuendo. People who are known as gossip mongers, who stir the pot in office politics, etc. tend to find themselves dropped along the roadside in power struggles. "Messengers" are almost never rewarded in the long-term for being the source of bad news.

Personally, I would stay out of it and focus on building your reputation as a solid, dependable worker who gets along well with her co-workers. Ratting out your co-workers based on gossip and hearsay will do just the opposite.
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Old 27th August 2016, 11:33 AM   #3
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Mike is the best boss I have ever worked for. I have a very trusting professional relationship with Mike, so when he asked me to be his eyes and ears and tell him about any problems he is not aware, I want to help in any way I can.
I don't know if I am inclined to agree that Mike is a particularly good boss. You might be getting along with him but that doesn't mean that he is effective at managing a team. Frankly, based on what you've mentioned so far, he seems rather unprofessional, as evidenced by his "working" relationship with Jenny. And furthermore, asking you to be his eyes and ears is just putting you in a difficult situation where you have to be a snitch.
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Old 27th August 2016, 12:29 PM   #4
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Step carefully.


I've found that even though you might be doing the right thing, when you pass information it all comes back to you and in business the messenger is usually the first one they kill, it's the easiest defense...If confronted Ben might say, "Who told you that, Jack81? He's lying, all the employees deny talking to Jenny or saying anything to Jack81, Jenny denied saying anything and I am not pushing you out. Jack81 is a troublemaker".


I would be willing to bet despite any promises to the contrary, when confronting them, Mike will tell both Jenny and Ben "Jack81 just told me...". Its human nature.


So frankly you can expect any information you provide to Mike to be totally refuted by Ben, Jenny, as well as any employee that has said anything to you. Then Mike has to wonder how honest you are being and potentially doubts you. When push comes to shove, Mike may be forced to choose to believe Ben and Jenny and the employees that deny confiding in you, over you and he would likely choose to believe his partner over you out of need for survival.


Stick with general observations. Employees seem distracted, Mike you should talk to them. The atmosphere seems less fun, when Jenny left people seemed upset, Mike you should talk with them....
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Old 27th August 2016, 1:05 PM   #5
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I think before you have any duty to report what you're hearing, first, you have the right to know why Jenny was terminated. I think it's odd that you're so close to Mike and no one has told you what was going on. My fear, of course, is it was because she had a personal relationship that then went bad and is actually just being ousted for Ben and Mike's comfort. But if she had some legit problems, seems like you'd know about it or they'd feel free to tell you about it.

Anyway, I wouldn't go snitching on their behalf unless they put you in the loop. Because right now, they're disrespecting you by keeping you in the dark, so why do them any favors. If they don't put you in the loop, you let them deal with their own problems themselves, lay low and stay out of it.
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Old 27th August 2016, 1:57 PM   #6
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First, why Jenny is no longer with the company is confidential HR information. It would be completely unprofessional to share that with anyone not directly involved in the decision-making process. The OP has no "right" to that information! Indeed, if the company were to share Jenny's private information publicly with other non-HR employees, they would be opening themselves up to ugly lawsuits.

Second, there is no "duty to report" on office gossip!

Third, successful companies grow! Once you hit a certain size (e.g. 50 employees), you better have a competent HR manager on board. It's no longer okay that employee#3 who was originally hired as an admin and handled HR paperwork as other employees were added continue as the de facto HR department. You actually need someone familiar with HR regulations and current employment laws. Assuming that Jenny was kicked out because she was sleeping with the boss is pure speculation and gossip. Perhaps Jenny got upset by what she perceived as a demotion when a competent manager was hired to take over her HR duties and she went back to being just a personal assistant. That tends to be part of the growing pains of any expanding company. Who knows what actually happened? Certainly not the OP!

The OP has zero facts other than Jenny no longer works for the company. Everything else seems to be hearsay, gossip, rumor, and innuendo. Stir the pot and create even more office strife and drama, by running to the boss with non-facts, and guaranteed, it will eventually blow up in her face. She'll end up being the bad guy when crap hits the fan. She'll be the fall guy when things go south. It happens all the time. Then the "trouble maker" is encouraged to pursue other opportunities because her work performance has suffered (new, shifting goalposts that she can never make), poor fit with the company culture, or she's no longer needed with the new company re-org. Who exactly will she then use for job references? Ben or Mike who hung her out to dry when it suited their purposes? Jenny who she ratted out based on gossip (not actual facts) to her current boss? Her co-workers that she snitched on? The only people busybodies, meddlers, and gossips tend to screw are themselves.

Mike got rid of his own personal assistant. Let that be a lesson on how he treats and rewards his closest employees in the long-term when it suits his objectives. I would be strengthening my relationships with everyone rather than hitching my wagon just to Mike.
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Last edited by angel.eyes; 27th August 2016 at 2:02 PM..
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Old 28th August 2016, 3:50 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your opinions. There are things you pointed out that I didnít even think of before, which were enlightening and made me look at the whole situation from some different angles. Previously I didnít think of possible impact on my own reputation and career at all, I was just genuinely concerned about my boss and other people at the company but now I think I should take that into consideration.

To be frank, I have no interest in office politics, and even though I am not entitled to do anything about it apart from focusing on my work, when people would come to me, maybe as a source of comfort, to ask for solutions etc, I just felt like I need to do something to help them. I am confused and conflicted.
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Old 28th August 2016, 3:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by angel.eyes View Post
Has Jenny said anything to you directly, or is this hearsay from other co-workers? Do you know for a fact why Jenny was let go? What's her motivation for creating strife at her past employer rather than looking for a new job, or if she's found a new job, giving her new employer her full attention?

Your best bet would be to do your job well and maintain strong relationships with Ben, Mike, and your co-workers. Stop wasting your time on speculation and innuendo. People who are known as gossip mongers, who stir the pot in office politics, etc. tend to find themselves dropped along the roadside in power struggles. "Messengers" are almost never rewarded in the long-term for being the source of bad news.

Personally, I would stay out of it and focus on building your reputation as a solid, dependable worker who gets along well with her co-workers. Ratting out your co-workers based on gossip and hearsay will do just the opposite.
Jenny never told me directly but my subordinates, and one of them showed me her messages in our one on one. Some people in other departments told me exactly the same thing and I am very sure they had no ill purpose in telling me that. Jenny hasnít found a new job yet. I have no clue why Jenny would be doing what she is doing, but she appeared to dislike Sarah so much itís obvious everyone noticed. Maybe like you say, Jenny got upset by what she perceived as a demotion and kind of wanted to Ďrevengedí? I donít know. Whatever her motives could be, I donít really need to know, I just found what she is doing wrong and thatís why I was thinking ĎMike needs to know this. Only he can stop herí.
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Old 28th August 2016, 4:02 AM   #9
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I don't know if I am inclined to agree that Mike is a particularly good boss. You might be getting along with him but that doesn't mean that he is effective at managing a team. Frankly, based on what you've mentioned so far, he seems rather unprofessional, as evidenced by his "working" relationship with Jenny. And furthermore, asking you to be his eyes and ears is just putting you in a difficult situation where you have to be a snitch.
I actually have to agree Mike is not always professional and effective at managing the team, but he is well respected and liked for his high charisma and genuine care for the staff well-being. The reason he asked me to be his eyes and ears, I believe, so that he is informed of any problems the employees may be having but is afraid to tell him. This way he can support them more, even though it does come across as 'unprofessional'.
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Old 28th August 2016, 4:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ChatroomHero View Post
Step carefully.


I've found that even though you might be doing the right thing, when you pass information it all comes back to you and in business the messenger is usually the first one they kill, it's the easiest defense...If confronted Ben might say, "Who told you that, Jack81? He's lying, all the employees deny talking to Jenny or saying anything to Jack81, Jenny denied saying anything and I am not pushing you out. Jack81 is a troublemaker".

This is what I missed seeing before but I guess you are right. It doesn't seem like a good place I am considering putting myself in.

I would be willing to bet despite any promises to the contrary, when confronting them, Mike will tell both Jenny and Ben "Jack81 just told me...". Its human nature.


So frankly you can expect any information you provide to Mike to be totally refuted by Ben, Jenny, as well as any employee that has said anything to you. Then Mike has to wonder how honest you are being and potentially doubts you. When push comes to shove, Mike may be forced to choose to believe Ben and Jenny and the employees that deny confiding in you, over you and he would likely choose to believe his partner over you out of need for survival.


Stick with general observations. Employees seem distracted, Mike you should talk to them. The atmosphere seems less fun, when Jenny left people seemed upset, Mike you should talk with them....
This is an option I think I'd go for. Thank you.
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Old 28th August 2016, 4:05 AM   #11
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I think before you have any duty to report what you're hearing, first, you have the right to know why Jenny was terminated. I think it's odd that you're so close to Mike and no one has told you what was going on. My fear, of course, is it was because she had a personal relationship that then went bad and is actually just being ousted for Ben and Mike's comfort. But if she had some legit problems, seems like you'd know about it or they'd feel free to tell you about it.

Anyway, I wouldn't go snitching on their behalf unless they put you in the loop. Because right now, they're disrespecting you by keeping you in the dark, so why do them any favors. If they don't put you in the loop, you let them deal with their own problems themselves, lay low and stay out of it.
Mike would tell me if I asked. Believe me, if I wanted to know more, I could just ask either my boss or my colleagues. But Iíd prefer to stay out of office politics and gossips. This time I am considering something out of my character because I got people reached out to me and seemed to expect me to do something. But after reading the comments from you and people on here, I think you are right and perhaps I shouldn't go on that snitching direction.
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Old 28th August 2016, 4:13 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by angel.eyes View Post
First, why Jenny is no longer with the company is confidential HR information. It would be completely unprofessional to share that with anyone not directly involved in the decision-making process. The OP has no "right" to that information! Indeed, if the company were to share Jenny's private information publicly with other non-HR employees, they would be opening themselves up to ugly lawsuits.

Second, there is no "duty to report" on office gossip!

Third, successful companies grow! Once you hit a certain size (e.g. 50 employees), you better have a competent HR manager on board. It's no longer okay that employee#3 who was originally hired as an admin and handled HR paperwork as other employees were added continue as the de facto HR department. You actually need someone familiar with HR regulations and current employment laws. Assuming that Jenny was kicked out because she was sleeping with the boss is pure speculation and gossip. Perhaps Jenny got upset by what she perceived as a demotion when a competent manager was hired to take over her HR duties and she went back to being just a personal assistant. That tends to be part of the growing pains of any expanding company. Who knows what actually happened? Certainly not the OP!

The OP has zero facts other than Jenny no longer works for the company. Everything else seems to be hearsay, gossip, rumor, and innuendo. Stir the pot and create even more office strife and drama, by running to the boss with non-facts, and guaranteed, it will eventually blow up in her face. She'll end up being the bad guy when crap hits the fan. She'll be the fall guy when things go south. It happens all the time. Then the "trouble maker" is encouraged to pursue other opportunities because her work performance has suffered (new, shifting goalposts that she can never make), poor fit with the company culture, or she's no longer needed with the new company re-org. Who exactly will she then use for job references? Ben or Mike who hung her out to dry when it suited their purposes? Jenny who she ratted out based on gossip (not actual facts) to her current boss? Her co-workers that she snitched on? The only people busybodies, meddlers, and gossips tend to screw are themselves.

Mike got rid of his own personal assistant. Let that be a lesson on how he treats and rewards his closest employees in the long-term when it suits his objectives. I would be strengthening my relationships with everyone rather than hitching my wagon just to Mike.
Thanks Angel! You sound like you have very good understanding of the HR field. I completely agree that my company is having more issues as we are growing, and not just with hr. Snitching on my colleagues is the last thing I'd want to. But I am not sure what do I do as I still feel like I need to do something, if not telling Mike exactly what I am hearing, at least giving some general observations like Chatroomhero suggested I guess.

I don't think Mike got rid of Jenny, he told me briefly that he tried to keep her but couldn't but anyway, I understand what you are saying which makes sense! Thank you.
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Old 28th August 2016, 5:59 PM   #13
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From the additional info you provided, ultimately it sounds like it was Jenny's very public refusal to get along with her new co-worker that resulted in her leaving. Sad, but that happens all the time at growing companies. People feel threatened by a new hire with a skill set they lack, feel like they're being demoted when that person comes on board, act out because verbal promises aren't being kept, behave unprofessionally, and get booted for their inability to accept change and adjust to the evolving needs of a growing company and its business environment.

Second, if employees outside your group are troubled about Jenny's disruptive emails, they have the ability to communicate their concerns to people who can actually do something about it, including directly to Mike, right? Mike speaks to other employees at the company, not just you? You mean well, but why are you seeing it as your personal responsibility to stick your neck out and complain about something that hasn't even happened to you? When recriminations start flying, and people rightfully point out that they never actually complained (and they haven't to anyone who can do something)...backtrack and claim you totally misunderstood what they said in passing in casual conversation...you took their words completely out of context...you're blowing things out of proportion...or they don't recall communicating with Jenny since she left...and they will do all of this when crap hits the wall and questions that don't suit their self-interests are being bandied about, how exactly are you planning to defend yourself? No one has voiced a problem to management, but you're running around to your boss behind people's backs, starting stories about people complaining and being upset? You're stirring the pot and creating unfounded strife where "none" seemed to exist?

Third, when Mike asks you to be his eyes and ears, that's not about concern for others. That's out of concern for himself. He's trying to protect himself from getting blindsided. From what? Who knows and frankly who cares why he makes unprofessional requests to his subordinates to snitch on others? We can speculate about possibilities all day. But one thing is clear. Dragging you into the midst of whatever morass might be swirling just beneath the surface is not about concern for you or your career. It's about numero uno--him. He doesn't care if he breeds an environment of distrust and dysfunction, or adds to the turmoil, just as long as he doesn't get blindsided. Stay out of his drama.

Again, look at Jenny, his personal assistant, as a lesson. The rumors, the innuendo...finally the boot. Who needs any of that? Ditto for Mike "trying" to save anyone other than himself. With help like that, who needs enemies? Should you start to be perceived by others as disruptive to the company and a troublemaker, expect to join Jenny on the outside.

Last edited by angel.eyes; 28th August 2016 at 6:02 PM..
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Old 28th August 2016, 6:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ChatroomHero View Post
Stick with general observations. Employees seem distracted, Mike you should talk to them. The atmosphere seems less fun, when Jenny left people seemed upset, Mike you should talk with them....
Sounds great in theory. But the first words out of Mike's mouth when she claims people are upset, or whatever will be: "Like who? I want to reassure them." Or "I want to get a better understanding of the situation before I address it at the company-wide level."

It's great to mean well and to want to be helpful. But understand when it doesn't serve your self-interest to meddle in issues that ultimately did not involve you. No one likes a snitch. And while Mike might be encouraging you to go down this path, no manager really likes a negative Nancy who is always complaining about what's wrong with the company.

Last edited by angel.eyes; 28th August 2016 at 6:07 PM..
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