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What to do when your boss creates a problem — and leaves you to deal with it

Today I’m answering a question about a boss who created a major problem for his employee — and then left her to clean up his mess.

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Three weeks ago, my boss told me that, because he trusted me, he wanted me to give him notes when other employees arrived late to work or left early. At first I didn’t think that would be a problem, but it is.

Two coworkers are married and were both coming in late and often leaving early. Apparently, they were turning in time sheets showing they worked eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. Because I turned in their real times, they both got shorted on their take-home pay.

I learned this when the wife stormed into my office and called me names. Later that afternoon, her husband came into my office, closed the door and told me I’d better watch my back. He scared me. I told my boss, who said, “They’re just blowing off steam. Don’t worry about it.” 

What should I do?

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The husband sounds like a bully, and bullies often back down when others stand up to them. Unfortunately, he may feel he can get away with threatening you if your boss does nothing. By asking you to record times and then saying, “They’re just blowing off steam,” your boss says he considers it acceptable behavior for the wife to call you names and the husband to threaten you.

Ask your boss for a second meeting. Let him know you’re willing to continue recording everyone’s times but that the husband’s threat genuinely scared you. Ask that he back you up by telling the husband it’s not OK to threaten you for performing a task he assigned. In other words, hand him back the problem to solve.

Have a question? Email Curry at with the subject “SheKnows,” and she may answer you (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.

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Lynne Curry is an executive coach and author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM). Follow her at, or @lynnecurry10 onTwitter.

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