Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Telling.......

If you’re reading this and you’re Black, at some point in your career you’ve had to deal with White coworkers who like to do their version of calling Po-Po on you, by reporting you to your supervisor for the slightest perceived offense.

Depending on what the issue is, reporting a coworker may be fair enough. However, when you’re working under the Black Factor, people can have a field day complaining about you to those in authorities—for all sorts of petty and ridiculous reasons. For instance:

-- A white coworker may have provided you with instructions that you followed. However, this coworker did not like the results of the finished product. Instead of taking onus for the problems, since the work was done to their specifications, they report you to your supervisor and lay the blame on you.

-- You may not speak to a particular White coworker, in passing, because they do not speak to you, do not smile at you or otherwise acknowledge your existence (unless they need something from you) or because they have not responded to you when you’ve said “hello” to them in the past. However, this White coworker may report you to your supervisor as being distant, unapproachable, and claim that you are unfriendly toward them.

-- A White coworker may have sat on a project until the 11th hour before asking for your assistance in getting work done. The deadline is missed because the White coworker kept changing the requirements and/or continually gave you new information to incorporate into your work. Now, the missed deadline gets top billing as your fault. The coworker goes straight to your supervisor to tattle about the problem they actually caused.

One issue with dime droppers in the workplace is that they often leave out of their reporting any complicity they had in problems that have been caused, including but not limited to their mismanagement of a project, tasks or time, poor communication, their blatant incompetence, and their lack of a sense of accountability.

Another major issue is that dime droppers often don’t speak to the person they are complaining about, especially when that person is Black. Some White coworkers will completely bypass a conversation with a Black coworker in favor of calling in White reinforcements. Why? Often because of racist perceptions (e.g., he/she may get “ghetto” on me, Blacks can’t take criticism, etc.) and, even more often, because they don’t think they have to speak to the Black person. Period! Think about it. If you feel superior to someone, do you really have to belittle yourself by engaging in a discussion with that person? No! So, they go to speak to the person who can do something to that Black coworker…the White boss! If the boss is Black, some White coworkers will go over that person’s head until they find someone “suitable” (read: White) to complain to.

But, no matter the cause, there are some things you can do to battle dime droppers on your job.

Tip #1: Don’t give people ammunition. Do your job and do it right—the first time. Don’t chit chat with trouble makers and don’t a$s kiss! Keep your nose clean.

Tip #2: Document all instructions you receive. If people give you verbal instructions, email the person with the instructions in writing. You should clearly state that these instructions are your understanding of what you were asked to do. Ask that the person call you or email you with any clarification/corrections to the instructions. Always include the deadline you were provided to complete the work. And, always ask that any changes/revisions be forwarded to you ASAP.

Tip #3: If you were given instructions in writing, make a copy and file it away. Follow up with an email stating when you anticipate beginning and finishing the work (the deadline) and ask for any changes/revisions to your assignment to be forwarded to you ASAP.

Tip #4: If someone is reporting you to company authorities, without speaking to you about any issues they have, go speak to the person directly. Inform them that you are not accustomed to working that way (without mutual respect) and ask that they speak to you about any issues, should there ever be another incident. Remind the person that you are supposed to work and support each other as a team and that issues should be worked out amongst coworkers before involving any higher ups. Hash out any beefs. Do not let this slide. If you allow people to bypass you to report you to your supervisor, this will become their new favorite habit.

Tip #5: Follow up with your supervisor or whomever you were reported to and address the issue. Provide a copy of any instructions you were given and/or provide your side of the story—supported by facts. Let the person know that you take issue with your coworker reporting you and that protocol/courtesy should have required your coworker to approach you to discuss the subject before speaking to anyone else. Ask that this principle (mutual respect and positive communication) be reinforced to staff.

Tip #6: Document any problems being caused by dime dropping coworkers and report them, if the problem is pervasive and is causing a negative impact on your work environment. Speak to a supervisor and/or Human Resources about any recurrent issues.


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