Dear J.T. & Dale: I'm a manager with a staff of seven. The other day our general manager pulled me aside and started asking odd questions. Apparently an employee had called our corporate office anonymously and reported I am doing my job improperly, even committing fraud. My GM knows I am not like that, but she has to do her job, and now that I've been warned and written up, I am one strike away from being let go. Should I confront this anonymous employee, or let it slide? - Bill
J.T.: My concern is that you were written up. This means that your boss/company feels you were in error.
Dale: Or, it could simply be that the boss felt she couldn't be seen as ignoring the issue. Nevertheless, the first thing to do is take your boss aside and find out exactly how she's feeling about the incident. Then, even if she's sympathetic, do not ignore it. Suspicions are like roaches - just because you don't see them doesn't mean they are gone. No, they're there, in the shadows, reproducing.
J.T.: Yuck. And though I hate to extend that metaphor, you have to do more than a single spraying. I would plan a series of meetings with your boss, seeking feedback, making sure it is clear that you are doing all the right things. Plus, find ways to improve relationships with your staff. The best way is to help each one with his or her career. When you invest in helping them achieve their goals, they are far less likely to turn against you.
Dale: Good advice. But even with them, I wouldn't ignore the accusations. Instead of confronting Anonymous, have private conversations with all your staff, confiding in them that someone felt you were acting inappropriately - there are no secrets in departments, they already know - and ask if they saw anything that could give the mistaken impression of impropriety. They'll see that you were hurt by the accusation and that you are ready to defend your reputation, while clearing up any misperceptions about your intentions and your character.