Today’s boss has many challenges with their employees, especially given the current shaky economic environment. Let’s face it ,they are scared and the employees are on pins and needles. I spoke with Karen yesterday who works in retail. Her company trimmed back the easy fat earlier this year, eliminating all overtime. This affected her paycheck, but she was happy to still be working.

A few days ago, her boss pulls her aside and says if there are some more cuts, it will probably be jobs this time, in the assistant manager ranks. There are only two at each store. He tells her, “if I have to cut, it is going to be you.” Bill, the other assistant manager is in the room in ear shot. <Karen feels the knife twist in the heart.>

The boss tries to smooth it over, “I know I should have been telling you things along the way, but I have not.”

Thoughts start to swirl through her head. Karen has been vocal with her boss about Bill’s mistakes in the last six months. She has seniority in this store, why is he telling her this? How come her boss is not telling her about the things to improve? Why is her boss giving her this message with Bill in the room? She immediately gets on the defensive.

Her boss is shuffling the papers on the desk and runs across a receipt to be cashed out. Turning to Karen, he asks what it is about. Curtly she says, “It’s not mine. It’s something Bill was suppose to do and I have been waiting for it.” Thinking to herself, why can’t her boss see that Bill is irresponsible? Maybe I just need to highlight more about what Bill is doing wrong so that my boss can see he is not as good.

The discussion picks up again and Karen asks her boss to be more open and timely in sharing his feedback on her performance. He agrees to do a better job at it. The tough part is his track record has not been consistent in this area, with her or with anyone else.

What do you think she should do?