Q: I have recently become aware that a colleague senior to me has been bad-mouthing our organisation to one of our partner organisations, saying we're badly led and on the brink of collapse. I know this because he misdirected an e-mail to me. This colleague has had a few run-ins with the boss recently, and I think that's the cause of it, but who knows what has been said? This could be really damaging. What should I do?
A: It's a tough one, this - but maybe not quite as tough as you think. Imagine for a moment that the bad-mouthing had been done by someone junior to you. Despite the fact that the potential damage would have been less, you'd presumably not have hesitated to let your boss know about it. I think you've got to do the same. But I don't think you should just forward the e-mail; that risks further seepage.
I think you should print it out and send it to your boss in a confidential envelope. And your accompanying note, signed, should simply say: 'This came my way by mistake and I thought someone else needed to see it.'
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.