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Did My Manager Slander Me?

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Dear J.T. & Dale: Several weeks ago, I was let go from my job. My manager had become distant and reduced my workload to next to nothing. During one meeting, my manager offered examples of the wrong way to do things and used the name “John” (my name, and the only John in the department) in the examples. Coincidence or slander? — John

J.T.: Given that “John” and “Jane” are the two names most often used in training examples as generics, I think you have to take it as coincidence. However, I will say it was in poor taste.

Dale: OK, but then what? What if it was more than poor taste — what if it was an intentional cheap shot? Even so, management would have, in an expression out of the Watergate era, “plausible deniability.” If accused of slander, they can say, “Oh, heavens no, we didn’t mean that John,” and you, John, merely look paranoid. So let’s focus on the bigger lesson here: You have to manage management.

J.T.: It’s true that this is not a wait-and-see economy; you have to seek out feedback and make adjustments in your performance long before your manager becomes “distant.” You can’t think, “I just want to do my job and be left alone.” No, you have to be aware of how management is looking at your work and make sure that it considers you a keeper.


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Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).

Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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