Theft at Work: Ask Noah

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Q: I manage the stockroom at a large chain store where there's been some theft over the few last months. My obnoxious district manager is pointing her finger at the stock guys who work under me. It's clearly because they're easy scapegoats for corporate to "solve" the issue with.

I'm pissed and scared of losing my job. I think the salespeople are the ones stealing our inventory. How can I turn this around? What is my role?

A: Certainly there are things that are out of your control. I assume you're a competent manager and run a tight ship. That's the job you're paid to do.

Regarding the recent thefts, I'd advise staying above the fray. You may advocate for the employees you oversee, but it's vital you don't view this as a holy crusade. Ultimately it is management's job to handle these affairs, and hopefully pursue fair action on this front.

If you cannot state with 100% certainty who stole the merchandise, be careful not to throw out random accusations. Even if you believe wholeheartedly that the salespeople are at fault, it isn't your place to speculate.

You need to have a more collaborative relationship with management. Perhaps there are ways to mention the vulnerable position you feel your employees are being exposed to without taking sides. Perhaps there are methods to better enforce existing rules and regulations.

The key is coming across as a member of the team, ready to be part of the solution. Turning this around is not a solo act -- you must work with management rather than perceive them as your adversaries.

As much as you may have your suspicions regarding certain employees, remember that you're in an administrative role. Do your best to avoid getting involved in gossip amongst the stockers or sales associates, and steer clear of stating your opinions to those who work under you.

Finally, please protect yourself. Although this urgent need you have to address the current thievery is commendable, let management take the lead on investigating the incidents. It's your job to focus on creating an environment where this is unlikely to happen again.

Remember that you are only one person and your control is limited. Do the job you were hired to do, and avoid drama at all costs.

This will pass. Have a wonderful weekend.

Please send all questions and comments to ASK NOAH at nskass@gmail.com.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

Noah

Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called "Kass' Couch" and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.

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