Managers, are You Stalking Your Employees?

Repeated and nasty emails and texts can constitute stalking, a form of workplace harassment. Here are some tips for managers to avoid crossing the line.

17 Jan 2023 Articles Workplace harassment Best practices

Stalking is repeated, unwanted contact that makes the victim feel alarmed, distressed or harassed and is a form of workplace harassment.

By sending employees incessant and nasty emails, texts or calls on work-related matters, managers could be guilty of stalking.

Why do some managers end up stalking their subordinates?

Some may want to exert control to address their own anxiety and insecurity to want to be in the know about everything and constantly checking on employees. As a result, they micromanage their employees and do not trust employees to accomplish their tasks. While these managers may have no malicious intent – all they want is to ensure that the job gets done – but when such behaviours go too far, this can quickly turn into stalking.

Others may rely on texting and emailing as efficient and convenient ways of sending constant reminders to keep employees with performance or disciplinary issues on track, and some may be venting their frustration and anger at subordinates for their sub-par performance.

Here’s what managers can do to avoid crossing the line when engaging employees:

Practise Self-reflection and Self-restraint

Before hitting the “send” button when conveying an email or text, pause, take a deep breath and reflect.

For instance, ask yourself:

  • What makes you behave this way?
  • Are you anxious about not being able to meet deadlines?
  • Are you worried that your employees are not doing their work or will mess it up?
  • Is this the management style that you want to be known for?

This will help managers develop an awareness of one’s behaviours to make conscious changes.

Set and Communicate Clear Performance Expectations

When assigning tasks or projects, make sure to set clear expectations to avoid confusion. By doing so, employees are also held accountable.

Be upfront about the objectives, work deliverables, performance targets and timelines. Concurrently, give employees the trust, space and time to meet those expectations.

Managers can also put in place a proper monitoring and measurement framework to track progress and performance. When communicating performance expectations, agree with employees on how and the frequency they should provide project updates. For example, bi-weekly team or one-to-one check-in meetings can be scheduled to provide employees a proper platform to keep you updated. This also serves as an opportunity for you to provide guidance, highlight any performance gaps and to coach poor performers on how they can improve and how you can better support them.

Establish Emergency Communication Protocol

Managers could also establish an emergency or crisis communication protocol including information such as the definition of a crisis or emergency, each team’s responsibilities and the means of appropriate communication. Having such guidelines in place not only ensure that employees are aware and understand the amount of communication to expect and is expected of them during a work crisis. It also serves to remind managers that certain communication protocols are reserved for urgent matters only.

While managers could adopt the above tips to create a safe and conducive work environment, employees also play an important role – they need to be accountable for their work deliverables and provide regular updates to keep their supervisors informed.

To learn more about other forms of workplace harassment and how to manage and prevent harassment at work, refer to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment or visit