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Old 11-07-04, 10:15 AM
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Xera Xera is offline
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My boss is a craven *$%&@ - Long rant

While being hospitalized two weeks ago because I couldn't face the idea of returning to my normal job after 3 months of being loaned to the United Way to help them fundraise, I've did alot of introspection. I was able to return to work on time (they don't yet know about the hospitalization), and for the first three days, began making lists of all the things that needed doing from while I was gone. I also began attending daily meetings w/ various people to get caught up on the crazy amount of changes that happened while I was gone. Just for an idea, when I left, I supervised 3 people, and they were backing up a 4th person who wasn't part of my staff who went on leave for back surgery. I returned, and not only was the person on leave on my staff, I had 2 new team members, they'd shuffled all the job descriptions (I'd asked them to in January), and had construction in the office so none of the doors were where I expected them to be (walked into a wall the first day back).

Thursday - forgot meeting with boss and two engineers b/c I was determined to take a lunch break for the first time since I'd been back so I wouldn't "burn-out". Meeting had been scheduled prior to my absence, and was just an FYI from them to us.

Friday - finally got to meet with boss to follow-up on all the issues that weren't addressed in my absence. I'd been sending her emails, but she wanted to talk to me about it all instead of corresponding in email. (That way I would have no proof she was the one who told me to do something idiotic, and she could claim I misunderstood her directive.) I was writing up the last of the issues for her and got to her office 8 minutes late. The meeting went poorly-my boss aparently thought I was accusing her of failure to fill in for me when I know she couldn't have done my job and hers for 3 months in a short-staffed dept. I just wanted to let her know how busy I was going to be. At the end, she reprimanded me for the "pattern" she sees of being late to meetings. (She was late to two meetings this week that I know of as well-one with a VP.)

She also reprimanded me for "not knowing department policies", when I made an exception to a policy, and apparently it was the wrong exception. Unfortunately, the policies are all very clear, and broad, so we make exceptions to what's written down on a regular basis. For this reason, the policies specifically mention that they cannot be changed "without approval from a supervisor or manager". I know the policies, I just apparently don't understand the logic behind when it's ok to make exceptions or not. I ended up having to tell a tech that even though I said it was ok they were going to be late, (I asked for a receipt verfiying auto shop fixing car and emergency furnace repair the same day.) I was going to have to write him up because I was wrong about my ability to make that exception. So, he gets screwed. I begged my boss not to make me write him up but to just write me up instead, and she refused. (Unfortunately, I was crying, so I'm sure I looked like I'm still crazy.) She told me I'd just get written up for insubordination and he'd still get written up for the tardy. I begged her to let me call him back and give him the options I now knew about, and she refused, citing that we've never done that in the past, and we must be consistent. I was assigned to reread the policies by her (???) and apparently during the meeting with her, I was given an oral reprimand (step of disciplinary action). She didn't tell me this, I accidentally found it when reviewing staff disciplinary action (verifying I understood the policy), and saw a new entry for me that day stating I'd been reprimanded about "job performance". Not sure if it was the meeting thing, the policy thing, or both, or something else.

Hmmm... Job Performance. This from the woman who informed me that we are never to give a step of discipline orally without recording in some manner (email/signed memo) that the person disciplined understood it was discipline and not coaching. If it was about the meeting, she knew she couldn't ding me for it b/c she did the same thing twice in the same day before I did. She regularly keeps the supervisors waiting for her weekly meeting with us. I just assumed it was ok because we're all doing work that is very dependant on what issues arise to interrupt our planned day. If it was for the policy thing, she knew she couldn't ding me for it because there are no official guidelines to what exceptions I can make, and I could successfully argue it with HR or her boss. So she doesn't tell me it's going in my file so she doesn't have to deal with it. WTF.

I think this really upsets me the most because I have been making a sincere effort to be the kind of supervisor I was when I first got promoted from TSR to my first supervisor role there, over 3 years ago. I also have worked my tail off for them since I started in a very bad spot taking up a supervisory role that had been empty for three months last January. I had read and filed 700 emails my first day back from the United Way, printing the ones that needed action so I wouldn't forget. I had worked with my team to figure out what was being done after all the changes, and what was still being dropped.

When I first took over my new job in January, we were so short staffed that we had to eliminate alot of lower priority job duties so the stuff that was very time-sensitive would be processed before it blew up. Apparently for the two weeks before I returned, they were sitting around with not enough work because they weren't sure what to do beyond that time sensitive stuff. The job descriptions had been shuffled, so even if they did remember all the duties I had pushed aside, they wouldn't have known who should've been doing what, or if another department had picked them up for us in the interim. Because of this, my boss, her boss, and the VP in charge of our department were under the impression that my department was actually overstaffed, and this was to prepare for a new product we'd be supporting in December. Now I come back and because I actually understand what my group is in charge of (vs. my boss having a vague idea of the stuff she pushed our way.), we have more than enough work to keep us busy. Actually, with one person still out indefinitely from her back surgery (she's applying for a leave of absence with the Pres. of the company since FMLA runs out in a week), one person 5 months pregnant, and the potential for flu epidemics this winter, I am terrified that we're going to go back to being short staffed again. I am especially concerned because we still don't have documentation for how all the duties are performed, and we haven't cross-trained everyone. This means if a person leaves, no one knows how to do part of their jobs. We are already not doing 3/4 of the work done by the woman who had back surgery. I am just waiting for the day that blows up in our faces.... We don't even
know for sure what it is, so I don't know how important it is...

So, I'm frantically doing all this work to try and get a picture of where my group stands as quickly as possible, and I get it together within a week of my return. I go to my boss with the list of problems and solutions, and she gets this nasty attitude about how dare I imply that my group is behind when in my absence they said they were slow. She tells me that we need to get documentation and training done before December when it hasn't been completed in the last 8 months. She says she feels no pity for the techs since they didn't take the "initiative" to figure out what their jobs were on their own when they got slow. So she's trying to make it sound like she's being hard on the techs when I know full well who'll take the fall if this all goes to H---.

Just like I did on my performance evaluation last June when she held me responsible for her not listening to me when I said certain things were critical in January, and that I didn't have enough staff to do it. (Yet another example of her being too much of a wuss to suck it up and admit to her boss she screwed up.) Then, within a month, we almost lose our ability to be an ISP because we were 6 months behind on what she told me wasn't critical. THEN, they fix it by telling me and my staff to go on short lunches and mandatory OT for 3 months. Yes, as I'm salary, I wasn't being paid for that extra work, and my work weeks were already 45-50 hrs/week. My boss doesn't do ANY extra work to help out. Finally, after deciding to go to my boss each morning with a report of how much work came in vs. went out each day, I get temp help and we get caught up. I tell them I'll still need at least one of the people FT to keep it caught up, they don't believe me, take the temps away, and we get shut down for 3 terrifying hours 2 weeks later. (Still on short lunches and OT). I start having nervous breakdown, go on leave multiple times, and when I return the last time, get loaned to the UW. I come back, and I got the FT I need for that project, and another I asked for because I've been hopping about all the stuff we haven't been doing that's slowly piling up in the background.

How can she ding me for poor job performance????? WAAAAAAHHHH! I just wanted to cry/hit her/hit me/crawl under a rock/tattle to her boss. ::Sigh:: Ok. I feel better now. Time to go send out some more resumes. (Been looking since 1st breakdown in March.) Thanks to any of you that actually read through this thing. It's nice to be able to vent.
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Old 07-23-11, 03:07 AM
ParadigmEntropy ParadigmEntropy is offline

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Re: My boss is a craven *$%&@ - Long rant

Hello there!

First time post for me Your post really resonated with me because I've seen a lot of political drama in my thus-far stint in the military along the lines of what you seem to be facing. Hang in there! By that, I don't mean take it laying down, but do try to not let it get to you so much. I'm sure you have much more going on in life than just work, and there must be something you like about your work... please do try to be positive, for your own mental/emotional health.

I can't comment with great confidence on your situation because I don't know anything about the corporate structure of whatever company you're working for, but it sounds like a company of decent size. In the military (I'm young and I would say it is the only 'professional' job I've ever held) we have a 'chain of command'. If things go sour when we're dealing with our boss this is the way we're taught to deal with it:

Step 1) Try to resolve the issue at the lowest level (meaning trying to resolve the issue with the person we're having a problem with, although this doesn't sound like a very solid option in your case.)

Step 2) Escalate the issue through the chain of command (in your case, contacting your bosses boss)... or we can bring the issue to the attention of the First Sergeant (your equivalent would probably be a Human Resources Office)

Step 3) Try to get moved (PCS to a new station, or a new office on base). In your case, you might try to talk to HR about opportunities in another office or in a section where you will not report to the same boss.

If all those options are not valid in your case, or they have not worked, then you're definitely on the right track putting in resumes! There are jobs to be had, despite the perception of a poor economy. You really seem to care about and fight for your people. You have gained experience as a supervisor, and it sounds to me that you are qualified to fill that role at another company if your current one is treating you poorly.

If you expect the economy has hit your area particularly hard and you might be stuck in your job for awhile, start taking detailed notes about your work day, such as the exception to policy you approved, your work schedule, priority lists, etc. Don't be afraid to e-mail these things to your boss so that you have evidence she was aware of any issues/concerns/exceptions to policy/etc. You may also consider recording conversations with your boss (please check your local laws to ensure this is legal). If that's not an option, e-mail her some notes you took during your meeting and communicate to her that you are only sending them to her so that she may dispute anything you may have misunderstood. If she does not dispute it in a way that leaves a paper trail (like replying via e-mail), she has no evidence you did anything wrong.

I don't know you, or your boss, so this COULD be a case of miscommunication (but I cannot and will not judge because I know neither of you)... I often take notes when I am speaking 1v1 with my superiors and upon conclusion of a meeting, read them back to ensure I have captured their full intent. Whether this strategy would be of any benefit to you, you would be the best judge.

If your job is salvageable (and by that I mean you think it may still be worth working there), don't hesitate to try to score a few brownie points with the boss now and again. A smile in the hallway, a quick friendly conversation about a topic she enjoys, etc.

Try your best to create paper trails! You sound like a hard worker, the more evidence you have of your caliber of work the better off you will be (even if your boss is sweet as pie, you want to leave a paper trail, you never know when it will come in handy.)

Best of luck to you, I hope everything works out well for you. I hope you do not perceive I'm implying you have done anything wrong, as I believe (based on your post) you have done a fine job and I hope you are not discouraged from being a supervisor in the future. People need good supervisors who are willing to take a stand and fight for them.
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Old 07-23-11, 01:38 PM
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Re: My boss is a craven *$%&@ - Long rant

Only you can decide whether or not this environment in itself is a toxic work setting. I was getting the picture that may infact be the case. Seems there is a lot of turnover, staffing issues, and in general poor communication, a very obvious (according to your description of events) lack of team effort or mentality.

I know you just got back to work...and like most of us need the money...but I think I'd be looking Hard for a different position elsewhere. All this stress is not healthy for you ultimately. I wish you all the best with your future decisions.
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Old 08-04-11, 12:28 PM
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Re: My boss is a craven *$%&@ - Long rant

Take a deep breath.

Aaaand breath out.

Okay. Now, repeat after me.

"I can't win this one."

Say it again.

Because you can't. As a serial oppositionalist with a legendary disregard for authority, especially in the workplace, I am telling you explicitly that absolutely no positive outcome will come from going head to head with this boss, and said boss has already sensed your attitude is what it is and is firing warning shots at you to remind you that they're your boss. It doesn't matter what's right or wrong. Sorry, but it doesn't. The only thing that matters is 'Supervisor' and 'Subordinate'. In this job market, it really isn't worth it to talk your way our of a job, regardless of the reason why.

When bosses sit down for meetings like this, as I have with my underlings in the past, it's usually because they've picked up on some level of personal attack or assumption that you feel their preformance is underwhelming. It can be justified or imagined depending on the 'jerk level' of the boss, but keep in mind that ADHDers don't always do a very good job of hiding what's on our minds when interacting with others - If you felt this way at all, and you were critical about your boss's efforts to keep up with your work while you were gone or trying to overcompensate to make up for being gone by making everything perfect and magical and wonderful immediately upon coming back, it might ruffle some feathers. Bosses are people, too, and above all things, they have to keep the troops in line, following policies, doing things by the book. It's just what they do. It's why they're bosses.

Take this negative and turn it into a positive. That statement seems simple enough but has saved my career on numerous occasions. Play the game. Accept the criticism, regardless if you believe it is warranted, and show your boss what you're doing to improve it. Bosses love compliance, but do you know what they like MORE than compliace? Improvement after non-compliance. It means they've reached you and you're responding to them positively. That turns you from a 'negative' on their daily to-dos into a 'positive'. Even if you are the perfect consumate working professional, which none of us actually are, there is always room for personal growth and improvement - Maybe this is an opportunity to obtain some and improve the relationship with this supervisor.

You don't have to drink the Kool-Aid, you just have to make them think you do. Put on the little Shriner's Hat, clang the cymbals together, do the best you can and try to repair this workplace relationship - It can only benefit you to do so.
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