What would you do?

How to Handle a Bad Boss

What would you do if you had a really bad boss? That’s the situation one reader of this blog is in. He read my post on How to Deal With a Bad Boss and left this comment:

I have a unique situation. All but 2 people in the office are treated nicely by my boss. Yes you guessed it I am one of those 2 people.

Recently I have had all my duties I was hired for taken completely away from me under “restructuring of the program” meanwhile everyone else has the same duties except my other colleague in the same boat as me. My boss avoids all attempts I make to communicate with him. In fact I have been reduced down to what my former assistant, who was incredible at her job, did all day.

To make matters worse the person with my old responsibilities does not have a graduate degree. I have my Masters and she micro manages me. Nothing I do is OK. I am completely miserable here and I hate that everyone else is treated with respect, they love both my boss and the lady with my old responsibilities.

My colleague is in a similar situation with a different person who has her responsibilities. We are treated like second class citizens here and I really need advice what to do especially since to everyone else my boss is perfect including his supervisors and upper management..

Oh I forgot to mention my former director here everyone hated. She was a great manager but lacked all people skills and came down with an iron fist on everyone. My current boss who has her old job was responsible for her being promoted out of the area. Any advice would help! Thanks for reading this post and writing this article :)

That’s a tough one. What do you think this reader could do? What would you do?

21 thoughts on “What would you do?”

  1. My suggestion is to keep cool (it’s getting harder to keep jobs and to find new ones) and to pretend nothing is happening. In Portugal, we have a saying that goes like this:

  2. Quit.

    Seriously.

    For what ever reason, you are so out of step with your current team that it’s making you miserable. No-one else sees the current situation as a problem. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t – your discomfort is evidence enough – but it means that you’re not going to have any allies when you try to make things change.

    She was a great manager but lacked all people skills and came down with an iron fist on everyone.

    I’m really not sure how you’re defining ‘great manager’ here – no people skills, equally unjust and everyone else hated her? What’s great about that?

  3. With the facts you’re giving, it seems like an obvious political move to make you quit, which wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world considering how miserable you are.

    Maybe they don’t have a good reason to fire you but why, no matter how irrational, would you want to work somewhere where you’re not wanted?

    If you don’t have the current means to leave, my first suggestion would be to speak up to your boss or his/her superiors. Let them know exactly what you told us: “I have been reduced down to what my former assistant…did all day.” Ask why and how this happened. At least you’ll be one step closer to being satisfied without leaving, but again, my suspicion is that they’re trying to get rid of you but cannot legally do so. They obviously won’t tell you that upfront. Use your time to sharpen your skills, meet people in your industry, and prepare to move on.

  4. With the facts you’re giving, it seems like an obvious political move to make you quit, which wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world considering how miserable you are.

    Maybe they don’t have a good reason to fire you but why, no matter how irrational their reasoning, would you want to work somewhere where you’re not wanted?

    If you don’t have the current means to leave, my first suggestion would be to speak up to your boss or his/her superiors. Let them know exactly what you told us: “I have been reduced down to what my former assistant…did all day.” Ask why and how this happened. At least you’ll be one step closer to being satisfied without leaving, but again, my suspicion is that they’re trying to get rid of you but cannot legally do so. They obviously won’t tell you that upfront. Use your time to sharpen your skills, meet people in your industry, and prepare to move on.

  5. Keep your mouth shut and your head down. Grin and bear it, even to BOHICA levels.

    And look for another job while you’re doing all this before your manager finds the excuse to fire you.

  6. Hunker down and maintain your professionalism at work.

    Dust off your resume and start networking like crazy. Find any reason to reach out to other people, and above all, avoid the temptation to bad mouth the current boss, situation, employer.

    You MUST remain positive and professional. If asked if you’re looking for a new job by your network, simply say that you are open to new challenges where you feel you can contribute as part of a team.

    My best to you in this difficult situation.

  7. You need to find someone who knows the situation where you work that you can talk to. I’d suggest a Union Representative if you have one and are a member. It’s hard to know what to do from hearing just one side of the situation. For example, I would ask why your current boss micro-manages you. I would also want to know why your responsibilities were given to someone else. It’s important to get the answers to these questions from people who can give authoritative answers, rather than to try to answer them yourself.

    Other commenters have suggested that they may be trying to force you out. Why would they do that? And if there is a good reason instead of an illegal one, is there anything you can do to reverse their thinking?

  8. You’ve got to leave for your own sanity and health. When you start using words like “hate” and phrases like “second class citizen”, to describe your work environment then things have gone too far. It really doesn’t matter who is to blame for how things got to where they are,… but as Alex says, “you are responsible for your own happiness”.

    Sure it would be great to stay at work while you polish your resume, build your network and look for another job. Why not lay low and wait till the economy improves before quitting? Well because life is way too short to be in a horrible place for even one more day. Seriously.

    This is truly the way I feel, and what I would do if I were you. I am not giving you advice or telling you what to do, just relating how I felt when I read your post. You need to do what’s right for you, and only you, because in the end you need to be able to resolve your happiness within yourself.

    Good luck with your decision; it will be the right choice because you

  9. Sorry, but I only see one realistic option. Leave while you can still do so on your own terms. You may not be downsized tomorrow, but all they need is an excuse. Why stick around to make it better? Find a new job and turn in your resignation.

  10. Hi,

    I’d love to address you by your name (or alias) but unfortunately I can’t find it anywhere.

    What are you going to do with all the comments? Leave – Stay – Talk to your boss’s boss – Quit – try harder…?

    Nobody can advise you what’s the right thing to do in your unique situation.

    What I’m gonna say might sound quite frank but I’m also offering you help, so read on :)

    I noticed that 90% of your post is made of passive sentences. Everything “happened to you” and you are the victim. “I am not treated nicely. I had my duties taken away. I have been reduced…”
    My first question as a coach would be to add “the second part” to those sentences, with what you think your role was in that. E.g. “I had my duties taken away, because I [e.g. missed a few deadlines]”. “I am not treated nicely, because I [e.g. always get emotional when my boss speaks to me.]”
    What happens when you look at yourself through the eyes of your boss? Or through the eyes of your team? Who do they see? What makes them treat you the way they do? It doesn

  11. I’m sorry to hear you are going through this. To some extent, I agree with Anja that you and your boss probably do have different personality/temperament “types” , and understanding those differences can be helpful as they relate to work style, etc., but that’s only useful if the other person is actually reasonable and does not have a bullying agenda.

    What many of these readers have missed is that it is NOT just you who is being singled out like this–one other person is receiving the same kind of treatment. How well do you know and trust your colleague? I would say the the two of you need to support each other, and both of you need to make a complaint to someone at least two levels above your boss. Don’t bother with HR–they just side with upper management and reframe it all as an “interpersonal conflict”. If you do have a union or professsional association rep, having two of you make the same kind of complaints and be able to verify the behavior will carry a lot more weight than just one of you filing a grievance or complaint individually. BEFORE you take any steps, I highly recommend that you read Namie & Namie’s book “The Bully at Work” .(No, I’m not getting commissions for this, but I wish I’d come across this book earlier rather than later in my own misadventures with a workplace bully because it’s really helpful in terms of the very specific strategies for helping targets (“victims”) to bully proof themselves and to bully-bust.) Another fairly good resource is a web site called Bullyfreeatwork.

    If you are systematically having your work taken away from you and it is being reassigned to people who do no have the qualifications for the position, it looks to me as though your boss might be moving toward a constructive dismissal. If you have not already done so, start documenting all these incidents as meticulously as you can–dates, times (if possible) and an objective, depersonalized description of the incidents. Don’t let this go on too long (re the re-assignment of work to a lesser qualified colleague) or it will look like you tacitly agreed to the changes in your job description. You need to start looking for a really good employment lawyer who specializes in constructive dismissal and defending people who have been bullied at work. You also need to make sure you have a really good support network in place to see you through this. Whatever else happens, try not to internalize your boss’s negative behaviour and attitudes toward you. I definitely agree with all the readers who are telling you to dust off your resume and get something else lined up (A tough thing in this economy, I know.) because it is marginally easier to get another job while you’re still employed. More importantly, you need to get out of that place before it does real damage to your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, not to mention your self-esteem and self-confidence. Empower yourself to deal with this cruddy behavior and remember the shame belongs with your boss for his behavior–not you. I wish you the best of luck and the best possible outcome for you.

  12. If, as Mike suggested, the bosses are giving the reader less to do because they can’t legally fire him or her, I’d just sit back and enjoy it. When I watched Office Space and saw that guy getting paid to sit in the basement and be left alone, my immediate (and second, third and fourth) reaction was “where can I get a job like that?”

    At my job, they pile as much work on as few people as they can, and by the end of the day my nerves are rubbed raw from having to deal with people.

  13. Quit. There is no upside in a place like that. Given that poor management has been promoted into other areas and replaced with more poor managers, your employer’s organization is likely rotten to the core.

  14. You’ve received lots of advice already, much of it conflicting. I won’t trouble you with more except to encourage you to do everything in your power ( I know, even that is hard for you to define right now) to avoid doing anything that could come back to haunt you later. Does your manager/employer deserve to have their pants sued off? Probably. Would you feel vindicated after winning such a law suit? Maybe, but it would be a hollow victory. Would winning, or worse, loosing, such a lawsuit have a negative impact on any future employment? Most definitely, despite laws to the contrary.

    Also, remember that “leaving” can include a lateral, promotional, or even geographical move within the same corporation if it is large enough to accommodate such. Your former director was promoted out of the way. Perhaps you could reestablish contact with him/her. If you were able to get along with this person in spite of their having no people skills, you just might be a blessing to someone. If you choose this path, take extreme care to burn no bridges behind you. you never know…

    Finally, however and to wherever you leave (assuming you do), remember that you will be packing your own baggage along with you. So, do take the time as recommended above to do some soul searching in order to make this a time of growing.

  15. @Kevin– I completely agree with you about there being many ways to “leave” an unpleasant position, and I definitely agree about not burning bridges. Hopefully the person who is in this situation has some allies elsewhere in the company who can be trusted and who might be able to provide some leads to other jobs (either within the company or at a different employer).

    I wouldn’t necessarily advocate going straight for the jugular and suing the company, but I would stress that it’s a good idea, if there’s a potential for a wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal to occur to be really aware of one’s rights under existing employment laws. It’s about educating one’s self about one’s rights and having an advocate who can help you use language that employers understand very clearly. At the very least, this individual is entitled to a fair severance package in the event of a dismissal–and a lawyer can review the offer or help negotiate what’s best for the employee out of court. Sometimes all it takes is a really good letter written or ghost-written–by a lawyer to get difficult employers to back off or down.

  16. If he doesn’t want to talk with you, then you should stay quite while looking for new job at the same time. Reason behind this is simple – you don’t have power in your hands!

  17. Hi

    I am currently in the exact same situation as you are in. I noticed that this posting was made in 2009. I would love to know how this turned out. Did you leave your job? what route did you take to leave? are you happy now at work? There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel right?

    xx

  18. I am in exact same situation except there is no collegue with me in the same situation. I am alone.

  19. I am actually in the same situation. I am working on a project with a team. I am supposed to be the 2nd in command after my boss. I began noticing that one of the junior team member whom my boss didnt want in the project, but I intervened and we brought her in. She became a boss sucker. Always sticking close to the boss and trying to be on top of everybody, always at the beck and call of the boss even outside the office. When the boss gives an assignment to anyone she will try to do it or when one tries to bring up an idea she always like to overshadow. With time the boss started giving her some of my responsibilities, I spoke to boss, he said he was trying to make her relevant enough for the clients to approve a contract for her. He keeps giving her scopes or updates from the client companies before I even know what was happening. I had to have the discussion again with my boss the day she came to monitor my work and I was angry. I rebuked her for doing so then i went to meet boss privately for what happened because she said boss asked her to monitor and make sure I deliver. I spoke to my boss in private, I asked him why he sent my subordinate to monitor me. He said there was nothing wrong in the new arrangement. Things continued that way. I am not happy in my office again cos I feel cornered away from my responsibilities. I dont want to leave my job cos it pays well and its not easy getting a job here. Like the first comment I read here, I’m gonna stick it out here cos I know it will not always be like this. Tables turn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.