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Human Resources/Problems with my new boss

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QUESTION: Greetings,
I've searched for many years to find a job that felt "right". My career changes have always been sparked by lay-offs (no flaky quitting or ever getting fired).  Anyway, eureka I've found it.  I LOVE my work. But my boss is the real problem.  He asks me how I plan on completing a certain project then tells me no don't do it that way. He will tell me the a new rule he implementing in regard to the people we serve, then when the discussion comes up again and I say "I agree with what you said the other day" He says no what you don't understand is we shouldn't do it that way, you need to have patience, you don't understand. And scenarios like this play out all day every day. It's frustrating and exhausting. I've only been there a month and can't see me lasting with this work atmosphere. He makes racial stereotype comments, sexually suggestive remarks and then the other day I told him that I was speaking with our Director and telling her how much headway we were making with organizing our storage and that she was very happy about this.  He said "Don't ever do that again.  Don't tell her anything that goes on in our office".  I am the only person that does my job and in our department there is only one other person.  He tells me repeatedly he's boss, he's in charge no one tells him what to do. Our clients tell me I am just the breath of fresh air they needed and they are extremely happy to have me on board. He is childish and a gosspi.  There is no place for me to move in the company and even if I did I would be black balled by him.  The director has only been there a short time so I am unsure of her. However, if she addresses the issues he will retaliate against me and I will have no job.  This guy is completely unqualified. Is there anything I can do besides quit?

ANSWER: Hi Tiffany
A tough situation indeed - when one has a job that one loves and then the boss's approach make it difficult to carry out the job well. I completely understand your need to deal with this situation without having to quit. So, I need to understand a few more aspects to enable me to give a more meaningful response.

a. Who hired you for this role? The reason for asking this is that more often than not, the individual who hired has an interest and a role to play in enabling the new person to settle down.

b. What is interesting is that the customers are beginning to give positive feedback based on their interactions with you. For most organizations that is important. So, can you get some of them to share their issues with the organization in writing. And their experiences with you. This will be helpful in improving the situation.

c. The way I hear you describe your boss, it appears that she has not contributed to the business at all. If that is to then you need to find the organization's stand on such individuals. The reason for asking this is that most organizations' value performance and would take action if the performance is lacking. The way you have described, it appears as if she has some backing. In which case the environment may be political. The route to deal with it will be different one.

Hope this helps in driving some initial thinking. Do revert with your thoughts & we will take this forward appropriately. All the best.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your speedy and encouraging reply. To make thingsa little clearer we work in an assisted living community.  Therefore our job is to keep the seniors healthy and happy.  We provide all of their activities. So our residents are the people we serve and they are so excited to see me every day.  One man who my boss warned me was disrespectful to women has never given me a problem. In fact he comes to more activities than he ever did before, another man who he said no one can make happy is always a grouch but this man tells me I am his favorite girl, he loves and even asks for me on my days off. He once told me in a private conversation he hates my boss and my boss is an idiot.

Both the Director (the woman over my boss) as well as my boss interviewed and hired me.
The residents told me they they have let my boss know as well as his boss know that they are very pleased with me.

My boss seems like a different man since the initial hiring and interview. He was so kind and encouraging but within the first two days he showed his true colors.

The thing that bothers me most is he seems to want to control me.  If I can not say something as simple as "we are making great headway on project abc" to our director then I'm not sure I want to work for this guy.  I won't be controlled and told who I can and can't speak with regarding something so simple. This would result in constantly walking on eggshells.

His management of our budget is ridiculous. Being as our Director has only been there two months she has probably not had time to see who he is either. He tells  me at least 10 times a week "I'm the boss and if the Director doesn't like it she can fire me. No one is going to micro manage and tell me what to do"  Our headquarters are out of state and we are the only branch in this area.

When my boss is there things seem to be rapid fire go go go and chaotic all day every day.  Even one employee told me "he makes things way more complicated than need be" NOW on the days he is NOT there, things are smooth and peaceful and everyone is happy.

My boss tells me "More people need to come to activities" I suggest making announcement of the days activities on the loud speaker at lunch he said "No I'm not doing that. They can figure it out they have a calendar." But then asks me to go knock on each every door of 80 units to remind them of activities. Then I suggested "Maybe we try some new things so more people would be interested." Then everything I suggest he says "no we're not doing that they wouldn't like it." Even though these are activities the people requested.

He told me one woman was becoming too much to take out of the building as her dementia is worsening and she cannot see. This is VERY true. I agreed that we should speak to medical about her condition because we cannot keep everyone else safe is we have to spend all of our time with her.  Well, then when I agreed he told me I was wrong and we can't stop taking her.

So as you can see he is basically a crazymaker. Whats more is he has had three people in this role in less than a year.  The residents said one lady just stopped showing up altogether.

So that is where I am so sorry this is so long, but wanted you to have the additional information.

Thanks again you are most helpful.

Answer
Hi Tiffany
Thanks for sharing the details. Gives me a clearer picture. Helps me attempt to see things from your boss's perspective also (not that it may be the most appropriate perspective but it definitely seems to be playing a role in what is happening to you). Let me elaborate.

I do not know who ultimately heads the organization or who owns the organization. But my hunch is that whosoever that person is perhaps had feedback about your boss and got in a person on top of her to perhaps keep your boss in check.

It is also possible that your boss was aspiring for that role and may hold a grudge for not getting that role. This may make her insecure and yet she may not show her true colors in front of the Director lest her position get jeopardized.

It is also possible that she feels insecure with your good work and you getting kudos from the community folks. This further endangers her job. So, if she needs to protect her position, the only way would be to ensure that no competent & able person stays in the role that you are in.

All this, if true, is sad but a situation that needs to be dealt with firmly & gracefully.

Here's my thought on this:
a. Please have an open discussion with the Director sharing candidly about your experience with your boss while mentioning very candidly that your intent is not to crib about the boss but seek help & guidance in settling down & doing your role well.

b. Ask the Director on how you could proceed in this situation without offending your boss and continuing to do the job you love in the best possible way.

My guess is chances are that the Director (assuming she is mature) will be able to deal with it in a firm & graceful manner. More so since she was involved in your recruitment. Also given the fact that she is also new, she will understand the need for support in enabling you to settle down. However, if you sense that she is not mature, then it will be important to know who are the other stakeholders who would be keen on the community getting good service.

You may then need to ensure that those people get feedback about you & you get an opportunity to meet them sometime & share your concerns and seek their support.

If none of the above is possible, then sad though it may be, it may be worthwhile to let go of something you love rather than experience a loss of self worth & humiliation on an ongoing basis - even though leaving will perhaps serve the purpose of your boss.

Hope this helps. Do revert if you want me to clarify any aspect or you have further thoughts emerging from this conversation exchange. All the best.

Regards

Pankaj

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Pankaj Bhargava

Expertise

Questions related to choice of career, inter-personal issues at the workplace, performance management issues, structure issues, compensation structuring issues, culture building issues, linking HR with org. strategy

Experience

22 years in HR and Org. Development, designing & facilitating interventions, leading an HR team of an Indian multinational & facilitating multiple organizations across industries to build the desired culture to serve business need

Publications
HR magazine of TISS (an HR institute of repute - Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

Education/Credentials
B. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Mumbai (one of the most reputed engineering school in India) and PGDM (MBA) from IIM Kolkata (one of the most reputed management institutes in India).

Awards and Honors
Was awarded the Gold Medal for excellence in HR by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce at IIM

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