DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a director in a major company, and I have 25 people reporting to me. One of my employees was out of line and lost their temper.
This incident occurred with an individual from another department. The manager of that department went directly to my boss to report the incident. I only heard about it a week later, when my employee brought the incident to my attention.
My boss never contacted me. I am very disappointed that the manager from the other department did not come to me to report the incident. How should I have handled this situation?
GENTLE READER: If you are thinking that the manager from the other department embarrassed you in front of your boss, you are right. It is no use complaining to Miss Manners that this is unfair, unless you are also in the habit of disclaiming any credit for your employees’ successes.
If you are, instead, mortified by the incident, wishing that the manager had come to you so that you could have corrected the behavior, you are on track to a solution. Two solutions, actually, since you have two problems: your employee’s behavior and the manager’s assumption that he or she needed to go over your head to solve the first problem.
Approach the other manager contritely, apologize for your employee’s behavior, ask about the incident and make assurances that you take it seriously and are taking steps to prevent any repetition.
If you find this approach distasteful — or are inclined to argue that the incident itself was unimportant — you may have discovered why the manager went to your boss instead of you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there proper procedure for an heirloom engagement ring that’s left to a young lady?
I have my late grandmother’s ring, which I really love, but I feel funny wearing it because I’m not engaged. If I decide to get engaged and married in the future, would I give my beau the ring to then give to me? If a gentleman is moved to give me a ring, I don’t want to argue with that, but I already have this ring that could do the job perfectly and would have even more sentimental charm.
It all seems a bit awkward, like telling someone exactly what to give me as a present before the thought even occurred to them. Should I just keep it to myself?
GENTLE READER: Your problem is one of timing. Few gentlemen, in Miss Manner’s experience, can resist the charm of a doting fiancee who makes them the beneficent hero of the story for his superior tact and understanding — while simultaneously saving him substantial expense.
The problem is how to accomplish this without the less-charming necessity of telling him it is past time to propose. Ideally, he will be moved to initiate a pre-proposal — and pre-ring-purchase — discussion of his hopes for the future. But whoever begins that conversation, what you wish to convey is that, when you do get married, all you want is a simple band, because you already have a family ring.