Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Article excerpt

HE'S BOLD AS BRASS, I'M OUT OF POCKET

My boss keeps borrowing money from me (a pound here, a fiver there) because he's 'not got to the bank' or he's come out to the pub at lunch time 'without his wallet'. Then he fails to pay me back. I don't want to get on the wrong side of him, yet feel I should say something -- but what?

It's a long time since I heard of anybody borrowing a pound. What does he do with a pound, I wonder? Serious borrowers never touch anyone for less than a tenner, so maybe you've got something to be thankful for. But it all adds up and I can quite see why you're a bit narked. By the sound of it, you don't put his not paying you back down to forgetfulness, either--and seniors consistently failing to pay back juniors smacks of the worst kind of abuse of power.

All I have to go on in building up a character portrait of your boss is a man who systematically borrows insultingly small sums from his subordinates and then chooses not to pay them back. This makes me wonder whether you shouldn't trade him in.

But if, by chance, he has some redeeming features, such as training you well and providing you with guidance and support, then you have a choice. You can treat your loans as an apprenticeship fee: the cost of getting decent training that will pay off later. In other words, keep handing over the loot but don't expect to see it back. Or you can start keeping a notebook. Make sure everybody knows you're keeping a notebook. Use it to record telephone numbers, humorous anecdotes, petty wagers -- and loans. The next time your boss touches you for a flyer, pull out the book and jot down the date and the amount before you hand it over. Then wait till the end of the month and send in a detailed invoice. But if I were you, I'd go for the apprenticeship option.

GOSSIP COLUMN

My competitor has started abusing me and my company in the local press and, I'm told, at local networking functions. I don't want to get heavy or start a 'war of words' but I worry that his inaccurate remarks may damage my business. Should I take action and, if so, what?

I expect you have already spoken to your lawyer. If not, you must. From what you say a broadside on legal letterhead would seem amply justified and, if couched in the fiercest prose, it could be all you need to do. This may be what you mean by getting 'heavy' but I can't see what you stand to lose. That should certainly take care of the abuse in the local press -- and your lawyer may think that an open copy sent to the editor would also be a canny wheeze.

The tittle-tattle at local networking functions is harder to deal with. …

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