Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Your boss did what?

The scene: My first day on the job. As I stand at the copy machine trying to figure out which button did what, my new boss -- whom I had just met because she was on maternity leave when I interviewed -- sidles up and asks this question:

"I'm a perfect model size 8. What size are you?"

I stared. What?

This exchange set the tone for what was three years of workplace purgatory -- she told inappropriate personal stories while her employees squirmed in their seats; made arbitrary and capricious rulings about the focus and play of stories, often reversing decisions she had made just hours earlier; caused many people to work well into the night (we were a 9-to-6 operation) because of her lack of organization.

And she took any hint of criticism -- however diplomatic or constructive -- very badly. So you couldn't talk with her about any of it. My coworkers and I tried.

So, though the money was good, the opportunities the job offered fascinating and my other coworkers wonderful, I handled the situation this way: I found another job.

Was there a way to salvage the situation? Maybe. But I wasn't in a place to figure out this particular workplace relationship.

What would you have done?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've learned in the corporate world that if you hate your boss, just wait 6 months and you'll get a new one.

It's not the same I know in smaller companies where you could be stuck with someone forever.

In that case I would really consider looking for a new job.

Anonymous said...

You know what they say...80% of folks leave their positions due to their boss. In this economy you would have to gut it out and stay, but in a few years when the economy cycles back positively again, you can hit the road to a better situation.

Anonymous said...

Working hours often make up the majority of one's life. Don't waste it being miserable.

Anonymous said...

Wow. As a manager myself, I find myself in a state of shock (though I know I shouldn't be) that someone with such little tact and common sense, let alone good judgement would find themselves in a supervisory or managerial position. As a manager, my best asset are my associates and I strive to maintain a balanced calm in the office but also try to inspire an openness that helps build personal relationships and teamwork in addtion to professional ones. My team is very relaxed but even on my team you wouldn't find such out of place statements as you've described. That's just a little to "high school cliquesque" for the workplace. If you exhausted all of your options while also trying to prevent damaging your career and nothing was working, I think your only choice was to take another position, and that's unfortunate. Your manager should have been required to complete some basic responsibility and leadership training courses because she clearly lacked the skills on her own. Some folks are a natural fit - the person you referenced was clearly not. I think you made the right decision, but I think that an exit interview could have been helpful with your manager's manager to provide honest and candid feedback as to what led to your decision to change course.

Anonymous said...

Years ago someone gave me some very good words about other's and their behaviors?
"There is always someone to bother you if you let them."
I would have laughed at the perfect size 8 comment.
I also had a female manager years ago, she loved to corner us and have us listen to her while she would 'undress emotionally and personally'. I moved my desk as far away from her as I could; then she would have to walk over or talk louder (over the phones, other's or all the equipment noises). I smiled once more and tuned her out as much as I could.
As for working late or longer hours, the pay would have to be increased or that would be my reason to leave rather than an unprofessional manager.
I like what a male manager said to me one time with a part time position I was working, I was the last part timer to be hired. The manager was not yet in the office when I arrived one morning and the other ladies said to me, "you have no work to do". I left and went home, where I always have work to do. The phone rang and the manager said to me, "Why did you let them send you home?" I laughed again, as I remembered with humor choosing to leave. When I returned to the office in the coming days, I said I would be available for all areas to work and train and learn; the other women chose to stay in just their area of job duty. After a few days of not allowing these other ladies in the office to 'bother' me we became good friends and worked well together.
I also remember one time being bothered by a co worker and the office politics. Another person laughed when I seriously talked to them about it all. Their words back to me, "they are only a human being"! I smile as I read of someone leaving what appeared to be a good position except for one problem, the manager. A good manager is always a plus, and makes work allot more enjoyable.
The non professional managers are everywhere though, I try to not be 'bothered' by them and remain professional in spite of them.
Especially in today's job market I would for sure 'grin and deal with it' to keep my paycheck.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I have worked for some of the worst people in Charlotte. Won't name names, but one of my former bosses was one of the most chauvinistic men out there. He used to tell me (and others) how he missed seeing his former assistant's "heart shaped butt." He would always talk to her on the phone behind closed doors. He hired a 21-year-old blonde with no experience, who promptly took over some of my important duties. It was sheer he**. Luckily I work at a great place now and got out of there.

Bill said...

"Class is the ability to overlook the social failings of others" - Katherine Hepburn

Anonymous said...

What size are you?

Anonymous said...

Drank

Anonymous said...

While looking for a work website I had used a week earlier, I found many porn sites on my pc. I knew I hadn't gone to places like that and asked the bosses son if he knew anything - my pc was located in the front entrance. He stated that he and his wife were having problems creating a baby and had to get some samples....at MY PC???? He had an office, there, with a door!

Anonymous said...

Grow some thick skin. People are too sensitive.

Matt Philmon said...

My favorite job over the past 11 years was my first job out of college. It was great... the work was interesting, there was travel but not too much, the people I worked with were fantastic... I even liked our clients. However, the boss situation was terrible and got worse and worse over my 5 years with the company. I finally left that job and despite missing the work, I made the right decision for my own mental health. No regrets.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Maybe if you had a 'real' job you wouldnt encounter such garbage management. Im not surprised the unemployment rate is what it is. Corporations have been populated with too many people just taking up space, surfing the internet, writing stupid blogs and generally sucking wind. If people had real skills and actually drove revenue instead of being a cost burden to their companies, one would have no worries in a down economy.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have believed a word of it.

Anonymous said...

You teach people how to treat you. If you set boundaries up front and are tactful about it these types of things will never be problems.