Support staff workplace responsibilities -Trainer's guide
Scenario 4 – Betty and Sue
- breach of trust
- inappropriate communication
Betty is a supervisor at a Disability Business Service. Her daughter Sue is an employee at the same Disability Business Service. One of the employees has been suspected of stealing other people's belongings. Betty asks Sue to have a quick peek into the employee's locker as she opens it to get her lunch. Sue lets Betty know that she saw the items that belong to other employees.
This scenario is primarily about:
- breach of trust
- inappropriate communication.
This scenario seems straightforward and it may be very obvious to the learners that it is inappropriate for a mother to ask her daughter to carry out this task. It is important that you focus on the consequences of this request for everyone concerned, particularly Sue.
Consider the power relationship that exists between Betty and Sue. Is it a form of workplace bullying to ask Sue to spy on a workmate? Does it make a difference that Betty is Sue's mother?
In order to be able to work in a team effectively and have trust and respect, you need open communication. You also need to be able to refer to policies and procedures and everyone needs to have confidence in the integrity of the process.
Betty - a supervisor at a Disability Business Service
Sue - a supported employee and Betty's daughter
Kylie - a co-worker of Sue's
Sam - a co-worker of Sue's
Betty is a supervisor at a Disability Business Service. Her daughter, Sue, is a supported employee at the same employment service. One of the supported employees has been suspected of stealing other people's belongings.
[Betty]: Sue, I wonder if you could do me a favour.
[Sue]: What's that, Mum?
[Betty]: Well, you know how we've been having problems with things being stolen at work?
[Sue]: Yeah …
[Betty]: Well, I've heard a whisper that it might be Sam doing it.
[Sue]: Who told you that?
[Betty]: Never you mind who told me that. The thing is, I want to be sure before I say anything to her, so what I want you to do is hang around her in the locker room and try to get a peek over her shoulder and into her locker and see if you can see anything. Can you do that for me, honey?
[Sue]: I guess so. What if she catches me?
[Betty]: Well, just make sure you are careful and don't say anything to her. Come back and tell me what you see.
[Sam]: Hi, Sue.
[Sue]: Er, hi, Sam.
[Sam]: What are you doing?
[Sue]: Er, nothing.
[Kylie]: What are you looking at in Sam's locker, Sue?
[Sam - slams the locker shut]: What??
[Kylie]: C'mon, what is in Sam's locker?
[Sue]: I can't tell you. It's a secret.
[Sue]: Mum, I saw into Sam's locker and I could see John's lighter and Chantelle's scarf and Kylie's belt and some other stuff too.
[Betty]: Oh, OK, Sue, thanks for doing that.
[Sue]: I think Sam saw me but.
- What do you think will happen next?
- What are the key issues here?
- How might Kylie react to what she saw?
- What are the possible consequences for Sue?
- What role do relationships play in this scenario?
- Which Disability Services Standards does this scenario relate to?
- What are your organisation's policies and procedures in relation to this kind of scenario?
- Are there policies and procedures in your organisation that you need to revise or update as a result of examining this scenario?
- Are there legal or other issues that relate to this scenario? What are they? Is there any legislation you should be aware of that relates to this scenario?
- Is it appropriate for Betty to ask her daughter to help catch a thief? Why?
- Would it be appropriate if they were not related?
- Are there circumstances where you would consider doing what Betty did?
- How might workplace relationships be affected if Betty's actions become common knowledge?
- How did you feel about us discussing this topic?
- What did you learn?
- How will you apply what you have learned?
A useful resource to use with this scenario may be the workplace bullying fact sheet.