The Administrative Assistant ("Sue") that I work with suffered a grave loss today with the sudden death of her husband. I am quite close with her, and she called me to tell me that he had passed. I asked her, among other things, whether she would like me to send out an email to our workplace, and she told me that, yes, she would like that.
In accordance with her wishes, I sent out a very short email simply notifying our office of her husband's passing, and informing them that information on services would be forthcoming.
My boss who has worked with her for many, many years, was extremely angry with me for sending out the email. He stated that I "usurped his provenance" and was unprofessional and disrespectful for not clearing said email through him first. He chastised me, giving me a long, stern (and, quite patronizing and nasty) lecture.
Did I act inappropriately? I was certainly not trying to overstep my bounds at all, and did not feel that I was acting in a professional capacity at the time I sent out the email; I felt I was acting as her friend and in accordance with her stated desire.
In my mind, my boss has turned Sue's tragedy into something all about him. This isn't uncommon; he is someone who truly believes in his own infallibility, and would be shocked to learn that the earth, in fact, revolves around the sun, and not his glorious personage.
Nonetheless, I find this episode particularly distasteful, but I think I may be hideously overreacting. Either way, I would like to get your opinion (even though what's done is done, and it's over now).
Supportive Friend or Napoleon wanna-be?
Dear Supportive Friend,
I know just what kind your boss is. I had the same kind of experience but once I understood him I realized that he felt threatened by all these little things in the office. He has to be top "banana" to show that he is the boss.
From now on when you want to sent out a memo to the staff -- check with him first. It may come to the point that he will say to you "go ahead and send out the memo but show it to me first." That will appease him and he won't feel that his position is being threatened.
It is little things like this that shows up a person's personality. I'm sorry for your friends loss. I extend my sympathies.
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