Q: I am at an impasse about how I feel about my boss, and I am afraid I will say something I will regret and storm off the job in anger. I need this job until my passion job becomes the success and I need and want. I like my job, but my boss ruins it, not just for me, but also for all staff under her. I have never known anyone who is hated as much as she is.
I take a peaceful approach to life and rarely complain about anything. I've worked here for several years and I can no longer tolerate it. She is critical, controlling, and publicly insulting to all. She treats the staff like robots and loudly argues with her boss, but doesn't get fired. I don't know why I hadn't recognized the environment as abusive, but now that I do, I'm angry for staying.
She criticizes everyone, typically for nonsense reasons. She is known for using one particular word to describe her disgust with everyone. When she directly accuses me, I now snap back. That is not who I am, but my anger has now been awakened. Recently she yelled at me for not going to an office supply store in person rather than ordering from the online store because the item was on sale at the store. It didn't occur to her that sending me there costs money that negates the sale price benefit.
In a staff meeting she told us her boss yelled at her. Then she warned us, "If anyone is going to get fired, it's going to be you and not me!" She has fired 20 programmers. She has an obvious problem relating to people. And this is the employee the company keeps to run our department.
Wouldn't I be better quitting now without a job? When I tell myself I am quitting, the thought of leaving relaxes me. Doesn't that show that quitting without a job lined up would be better than waiting?
A: If you cannot return to your peaceful mindset, resign now. But before you do, review the history of the situation. You have tolerated her behavior for years prior to recognizing it as abusive. The examples you give (it's likely you have more) show her lack of analytical, leadership and relationship skills, so your upset is reasonable. She also showed the staff her refusal to take responsibility for anything, making it clear she would blame and fire an employee to avoid her taking a fall. She seems unaware of her illogical and unethical behavior, and for whatever reason, management gives her a pass.
Ask yourself if you are most angry that an unprofessional person remains in a position of authority or if you are angrier you stayed in your job for so long. It's likely that every staff member shares your feelings. Since she gets away with open arguments with her boss and has not been fired yet, it's likely there are unknown factors involved in the company keeping her. Being upset with the situation is understandable; letting your anger potentially damage your employment is not. When you can't correct a problem, focusing on it deepens it. Let it go before it affects your physical health.
Verbally releasing your anger can also hurt your future job search. Your boss could file with HR your retaliatory retorts under "insubordination." It's best to leave a job on good terms, so if you can't hold in your anger, give your two-notice, with or without a job lined up. But, since you have tolerated the situation for several years, it would be best repressing your anger a bit longer while quickly searching for another job. A job search should lighten your state of mind knowing you will soon be free.
It doesn't sound like she would give any employee a good reference, but since firing a slew of programmers, she has likely been warned by HR to not say anything if she is contacted for a reference. Most companies wisely offer only job title and employment dates to inquiring companies; they can be held liable if anyone in their employ offers negative feedback that could damage a former employee's ability to get another job. But despite company warnings to its managers, employees do go "rogue," so look into that possibility if you do not get any job offers after interviewing.
Email career and life coach [email protected] with your workplace questions and experiences. For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.