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How to File a Complaint Against a Manager in a Work Environment

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Filing a complaint against your manager can be a delicate situation. You may be concerned about exacerbating an already uncomfortable situation or even losing your job. However, if you have a legitimate problem with your supervisor, taking the time to research the appropriate process and acting in a professional manner can greatly improve your chances for a satisfactory solution.

Preparation is Key

Adequate preparation is key to filing a complaint against your manager. Documenting your allegations will strengthen your position and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult to gather proof. If there is tangible documentation, like written notifications or emails, obtain copies and create a personal file. If your allegations involve verbal conversations or physical actions, use modern technology to assist you. A web camera or the audio recorder on your cell phone can be used to gather the proof you may need. The more information you have to support your allegations, the more seriously the issue will be taken.

The Hard Conversation

Your first priority in the process is to have a conversation with your supervisor. Express your dissatisfaction by bringing the issue to your manager's attention in a constructive manner. It is likely they were not aware of the problem. Give your supervisor the opportunity to fix the problem before having to elevate it up the chain of command. This conversation can be uncomfortable and difficult. Always maintain your professionalism, even if your manager does not.

Follow Company Procedures

Most companies have employment manuals to govern policies and procedures. These manuals state your responsibilities to the employer, as well as your employer's responsibilities to you. If meeting with your manager does not solve your issue, consult the manual to learn the proper complaint process and follow it as directed. Failing to do so may negatively affect the responsiveness of the company. By following the directions, you give yourself a better foundation to continue fighting if you are not satisfied with your employer's solution. If your company does not have a manual or complaint process, seek guidance from a human resources representative.

Discretion is Key

It is imperative that you use discretion during the complaint process. Unless it is necessary for information gathering, refrain from talking about the situation with coworkers. You do not want to create an environment where your complaint becomes the topic of office gossip. Always consider the importance of your credibility throughout the complaint process. Also refrain from posting your complaints on any type of social media sites. Though these posts may be protected as free speech in some situations, this type of behavior can still result in the loss of your job.


Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.

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