Dealing with Employees/New job blues


Hello, I need some advice about a job I started six months ago. I work for a city government, and back about 10 months ago I heard that this position might become available. I did a prescreening with the supervisor, and everything seemed great. I knew the position would be available for a few more months, so I took a seasonal position within the city in the meantime to make some lasting connections. When the job finally opened up, I interviewed with a panel that included the supervisor I had a prescreened with. I was offered the job and excepted without hesitation. The problem started on day one of this new job. Everyone else working in the department was a seasonal employee. I asked them how the summer has been going, and they all agreed… It was the worst job they had ever had, and the reason was because of the supervisor. I was brought on to be a year-round employee, and I wondered how they could feel this way when I had had such a good impression of the supervisor. But quickly, I understood why their summer has been so miserable. The supervisor is one of the hardest and worst I have ever worked for. He micromanages everything I do, only provides negative feedback often based out of personal opinion, discounts every idea I have and go so far as sometimes make fun of the ideas that I have, bullies me and forces me to do things that make me uncomfortable, even after I express it to him, and has literally turned my life into a nightmare. The job is not what was described in the interview. In the interview, they mentioned that they wanted the person in my position to develop programs for the department, get involved with the community, and change the culture of the program. This is not at all what the job entails. In fact, I spend more time doing errands for my supervisor that I do my actual job. I've tried talking to my supervisor and asking him for more structure in the job. I have asked him how he defines the success of this job and of my position, to try to better understand how to make him happy and how to perform to the best of my abilities. He will tell me to do A, B and C, and upon doing so well ask me why I didn't do D, E and F even though those were never originally mentioned to me. He is not sticking to the agreed-upon schedule, and expects me to work constantly changing schedule every week. He uses derogatory language, and does not treat me like a professional.  He has also made questionable comments to me, such as telling me not to talk to other employees during the day because they only want to talk to me because they think I'm attractive, and me talking to them could  make me labeled as a distraction.  The truth is, I work by myself 99% of the time with my supervisor being my only source of interaction!   I want to quit this job, but I know that it could provide me with great opportunities in the future. I am also afraid that if I quit I will burn a number of bridges, as there are many people who supported me and helped me to get this position. I have consider talking to HR, as well as my supervisors superiors, but the more time passes the more I realize how corrupt the city government is and that I don't know if I can trust the people but I am supposed to be able to trust. I feel stuck, and this job is seriously affecting my life mentally and physically. I know that sometimes you have to do what's best for you, no matter who you might hurt or piss off along the way, but I really would like to try to make this work before I call it quits… I'm just not sure how to handle this problem. Any advice would be extremely helpful. For more information, this article perfectly explains how I feel about this job.

Dear Lerin,

First, let me say that I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience in your job. However, don't feel alone. There is a saying that employees don't quit their job, they quit their supervisor. The vast majority of people who are dissatisfied with their job are really dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor. If you do decide to leave, it would be understandable. I would suggest that you try and find another job where you have checked out the person you will be reporting to, before you quit. Rarely, will it be held against you if you leave for a better job.

If you decide to stay and try and improve your situation, remember several things. First, it's likely, it is not a surprise to HR or your supervisor's manager that he is difficult to work for. They just have chosen not to do anything about it. Probably because, up til now, he has been supervising part-time employees. Second, you said that one of the reasons you have'nt gone forward before this is that you don't know who to trust. That should tell you something about the environment you're working in. I would suggest that, if at all possible, you, surreptitiously, record conversations you have with your supervisor to document what he is say to you. In many states theses recordings can be used in court. I don't know about New Jersey. At the very least, write down incidents you have with him with dates, time and how the conversation made you feel. Next, talk to one of the people who supported your hiring or someone you can trust, and informality, ask for their advice. They might be willing to become an advocate for you. Finally, talk to either the Manager of HR or your supervisor's manager, whoever you trust more, and make your case.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

Dealing with Employees

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Joe D. Buys


I can answer questions dealing with leadership development, cross-functional team development, conflict resolution, absenteeism management, workplace violence, sexual harassment, diversity in the workplace, supervisor and management training and conducting employee and customer opinion surveys. I can also answer questions dealing with Lean Manufacturing and Administrative Lean for the Office.


I have been a manager then business owner and now consultant for over 40 years. My education and experience working in the real world prepared me for my work as a consultant. However, my experience as a consultant has allowed me to work with some of the top organizations and industries in the world. I have learned from their successes and failures. That has helped me to develop strategies to improve both employee and process performance. I have learned many lessons over the years. However, one stands out above all the others. Without good leadership every organization is ultimately doom to fail. Perhaps Al Gini said it best when he said... "The term “power” comes from the Latin posse: to do, to be able, to change, to influence or effect. To have power is to possess the capacity to control or direct change. All forms of leadership must make use of power. The central issue of power in leadership is not Will it be used? But rather Will it be used wisely and well?" I hope I can help you find the right balance.

Both a BA and MA from Michigan State University.

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