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Dealing with Employees/New job is a nightmare


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.

Hi Lerin,  

I'm sorry your dream job has turned into a nightmare for you.  We spend the majority of our weekdays at work, and if going to work is a dreaded task every day, it's time to look at options.  Here's what I see the options are.

1.  Talk to your supervisor one more time and let him know how frustrated you are about the job being different
   from what you were led to believe.  Tell him you feel stifled in how you do your job because clear
   expectations are lacking, your ideas are rarely accepted, and negative feedback about your work by far
   surpasses any positive feedback about what you do. Also, let him know you are not comfortable with his
   comments that you are attractive and could serve as a distraction for co-workers.

2.  Go to your HR folks and lay it all out.  Let them know how difficult it is for you to face getting up and
   going to work.  Your supervisor is creating a hostile work environment for you and his comments about
   distracting co-workers because you are attractive, border on sexual harassment.  Let HR know that summer
   personnel have shared similar complaints about the supervisor with you.

3.  Quit and tell your boss, his superiors and HR the whole story for your exit.

Of the three, quitting would be on my radar but not before I tried option #2.  You've already talked to your supervisor with no visible changes.  And, according to your summer employed folks, this has been going on long before you were hired.  It would appear, therefore, that either his superiors aren't supervising him properly and providing proper training, or they are unaware of the problem (which also adds credence to them not adequately supervising him).  

Start off by telling HR how excited you were about getting this job and the planning you did in preparation of interviewing for this job.  However, since you've been on the job, your supervisor's negativity and micromanagement and inappropriate comments about your appearance, have made it difficult for you to do your job or exercise any creativity on the job.  Let HR know, you've tried talking to your supervisor, but nothing has changed. Let them know you are not alone in your complaints as similar complaints have been expressed to you by the summer employed folks.  Tell them you don't want to quit, and you are hoping that something good will come of your meeting with them.  Be sure HR knows your supervisor is creating a hostile work environment for you and be able to describe how his bullying, inappropriate sexual innuendo about being a distraction because you are attractive, unclear expectations, constant negative feedback and micromanagement have provoked mental and physical stress and are affecting your ability to do your job.

If nothing positive happens after talking with HR, start looking for another job and prepare to quit.  You might want to consider talking to a labor law attorney as well to pursue that hostile work environment issue.  

Take care.  I wish you well.

Alice j. Bogert

Dealing with Employees

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Alice Bogert


Today's workplace is filled with many issues that impact employee performance and add to workplace stress. I have many years experience supervising employees and can field questions for both management staff and non-management staff related to employee conflicts, employee-boss issues, time management, negotiation skills, preparing employee performance evaluations, developing resources, generation X and Y issues, and cultural diversity.


I am a retired law enforcement officer, and I teach training classes around the country for law enforcement. I am also a consultant/trainer to private industry teaching numerous management development and supervisory courses. I teach report writing at a local junior college where I am an adjunct faculty member. I've also worked as a substitute teacher for grades K-12 and private tutor. I've been a facilitator for Volunteers in Victim Assistance, helping citizens/employees deal with community or work related traumas, and I've worked with abused and neglected children.

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