Opinions and advice about my manager please

Hi,

I recently got a new manager at work. He has starting acting differently around me. Here are some of the things he has said and done.

Asked me to smile more
Told me he’s never seen me with my hair up and told me I should put my hair up
When I didn’t put my hair up the next day he asked me why as he told me he thought I would put it up after he told me to
I put a tiny little clip in my hair one day. He told me that it looked good
The next day he told me I looked fabulous
He tapped my knee with his hand during a coaching session
He told me I looked awesome
I walked into a meeting and he said “doesn’t she look fabulous today” to my colleagues
He knows I have kids but asked me if I was married
I told him I was married and he told me he knows people and could get my husband a job there.
Is his behaviour appropriate should I be concerned?

Thanks

That’s at least borderline inappropriate. It’s possible he’s socially awkward and thinks he’s just being friendly, but it could be pointing down a bad road.

Doesn’t sound like any serious lines have been crossed, but personally I would speak with him privately and communicate, respectfully but in no uncertain terms, that those types of comments make you uncomfortable. If the direct approach is unappealing to you, perhaps there is someone over his head you could express your concerns to?

And document. Always document. Times, dates, locations, specific actions and comments.

Since this is asking for advice, I’m going to move it to IMHO.

Seconding documenting. His behaviour would make me very uncomfortable - he might just be socially awkward, but he’s making it your problem. I think he’s working his way up to hitting on you, frankly. I also second telling him to stop - that’s one of the rules for workplace sexual harassment, I believe - you need to make it unequivocally clear that the touching and comments need to stop.

Some very effective managers are more touchy feely than others. If your job is very public appearance oriented I’d give him a pass on the hair up thing. If it’s not then he’s (IMO) being a little too involved in your fashion choices.

There is usually a context to these things. Managers will put their hands on guys backs all the time when instructing without it being weird. Tapping you briefly on the knee is while delivering info is not much of a sexual overture even if it’s annoying to you. Women can usually tell if a touch is made in an appropriate context. If you are cataloging his behaviors it sounds like you are not sure about his signals.

Frankly just reading your OP of his comments he sounds more gay than anything else re his focus on your dress, hair and overall appearance and the fact that he feels inherently qualified to comment on and judge your look. Most hetero men would not be feel entirely comfortable making these assumptions.

What you do for a living would be helpful here.

But, yes, I think this behavior is inappropriate, generally. Since it bothers you, I would request a meeting with a third party who will document it, and this person. However, this may not help, since HR departments have a tendency to “lose” things that reflect negatively on the company. I would have the meeting, then make a formal request to view your personnel file after it has been documented. Keep a copy of the documentation for your records.

Talk to him about it, as others have suggested. Merely expressing your concern will probably be enough to solve the problem and not doing so may only make it worse. As they say, you’ve got to give your opponent a way out, so my strategy is to say something like, “I must be misinterpreting this situation because I know that a prosssional like you would never do something like that.”

Re those wanting to get HR directly involved per ThisUsernameIsForbidden’s comment her precise occupational role is critical to this determination. If her job involves, as a key requirement, maintaining a professional appearance to clients or the public there is nothing this manager has done that is remotely actionable harassment-wise other than (possibly) the knee tap which is something managers do with males all the time.

None of this (as described) rises to the level of sexual overtures. If her appearance when interfacing with others is a key component of her job and he thinks she needs to sharpen up a frumpy look none of his comments based on her appearance are out of line. If she’s in back room accounting or not meeting clients or the public then he’s way out of line.

The OPs occupational role is critical to what side of the line he is on.

yea he wants to boink you.

either use it to your advantage or tell him to back the f*** off

I appreciate all the advice so far.
I do not deal with the public at all. I am in an office taking calls all day.
Just to clarify.

He sounds creepy.

Manager: “Doesn’t she look fabulous today?”
You: “Thank you, John, but let’s keep it professional.”

Manager: “I really think you’d look good with your hair up.”
You: “Yeah, let’s stick to work-related topics, please.”

Manager: “I’m surprised you haven’t worn your hair up after I told you how good it would look.”
You: “Your preoccupation with my appearance is making me uncomfortable, and I’d like you to stop.”

If that’s the case as long as you are clean, neat and presentable his fussing about the details of your appearance ie hair up/down, giving you props for looking fabu etc. are not what a manager in his position should be concerning himself with regarding a non-public interface employee, and quite frankly it’s not what a heterosexual male manager would usually be focusing on. I’ll ask again, are you sure he is not gay? If he is it would explain a good chunk of his behavior re his feeling qualified to offer styling advice, but no sexual overtures (so far).

Do you actually know any gay men? They don’t typically go around the office giving female subordinates advice on their hairstyles.

I do know quite a few gay men and they are (as a group) definitely more inclined to offer styling advice to women they know and quite frankly women are more inclined to actively solicit styling advice from them if they like their suggestions. A smart gay or straight manager would not make these suggestions and I’m not saying he’s not a stupid gay man or a clueless manager for overstepping his bounds by being too touchy feely and overly involved in her styling choices. I’m offering the option that he is gay and he (with no sexual designs in mind) is simply offering an opinion he feels fully qualified to offer. Most heterosexual men with female employees would not even begin to think of telling a woman what to do with her hair or giving her some beauty queen style entrance props when she arrives.

It’s fully possible he could be straight and after her sexually but if so his seduction methodology is pretty odd.

There are plenty of heterosexual men who give women “pointers”, astro. Like a man who’ll tell a woman, in a backhanded complimenting kind of a way, that he likes the shoes she’s wearing today as opposed to her usual clodhoppers. Or he’ll let her know that she should wear jeans more often so as to show off her nice ass. I don’t know what universe you live in where this doesn’t happen.

I’ve also had touchy-feely bosses. One used to grab my upper arm when he’d talk to me. I was a dumb 20-something and I’d just laughed it off since he did that to all the girls in the lab. But if I had a boss like that now, I dunno. I think it would be mighty hard for me not to want to kick him in the balls.

In 2014, the universe where he wants to stay employed.

Re your examples just to be clear complimenting manager/boss SAYS “as opposed to your usual clodhoppers” and SAYS “so as to show off your nice ass” or are these the immediate assumptions a woman is supposed to making when these compliments/observations are offered?

Sexual harassment happens.

This one makes me think that the guy is quite a nut, and may be dangerous.

A. He had ‘dictated’ her appearance, and then, actually questioned her ‘defiance’

and

B. Was surprised, and had the temerity to say as much. This kind of makes me think of Caligula in “The Robe”, or any such over-the-top portrayal of a mad emperor.

I think that a lot of good managers are needlessly charged with sexual harassment, but, I think this guy needs to be reported to HR, stat.

You should ask him if he would like to have sex with you

And yet everyday people are sexually harrassed. Despite all the stories about individuals getting sued and fired for sexual harrassment, people continue to do it. Just like what happens with other crimes. People are incredibly stupid, especially with regard to sex.

I have a couple of male coworkers–not bosses–pay me compliments like this. Swap “nice ass” for “nice body” and “clodhoppers” for “librarian shoes”, and the intent is the exact same.

My response is just to roll my eyes at them and mentally give them the finger. I’ve been “that girl” before, and I don’t want to be in that position again. But I have told them to watch themselves because the walls have ears and anyone can file a complaint. And they always clutch their pearls and act like I’ve wounded them somehow. “WE’RE JUST BEING NICE!!” they say. It doesn’t matter how many sexual harrassment seminars we sit through. They just can’t figure out how how to censor themselves.