My life is miserable. I’ve been working at this new job for six months, and I have a manager who insists on reviewing all my work, is constantly making corrections and asking me to revise them as I am the executive assistant. She is making me work overtime, calls, texts and emails me non-stop and when she doesn’t like what I have done, she gives me her feedback by screaming at me so that everyone in the office can hear me. I understand she is stressed as we are in a deadline driven industry. I understand that she screams, because her boss screams at her.
Boy, would I ever love to quit. But I cannot afford to. I must have this job. It pays well too. And it’s no wonder with this type of management. Any suggestions as to how to handle this difficult boss, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Signed: I’d Love To Quit (ILTQ)
Your situation sounds horrible. I cannot imagine the toll this is taking on your health, production, motivation, not to mention your confidence and well-being. I’d definitely recommend starting to look for a job!
I know it’s too late for you now, but I would be curious to know if — during your interview — there were there any red flags that this person, at whose mercy you would be for 35 plus hours a week, would behave this way? Just a heads up for next time you take a job, as you may want to take note of the verbal and non verbal signs of danger in the workplace!
In the meantime, until you have another job, Dr. Terra Vanzant-Stern recommends that you find someone outside of your department with whom you can trust and share. This may not be easy to do, given that you are a new employee. But there might be someone at the water cooler or the lunch room with whom you have started to build a friendship.
Employment Counsellors at JVS recommend that you recognize that this is not your fault. This is not about you being a failure; instead the bosses’ behaviour is more a reflection of her issues, which may include poor supervisory skills, lack of leadership training or a lack of self-esteem. People who put down others do not feel good about themselves. As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely stated, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (In Bissonnette, 2004).
Denise Bissonnette suggests that when you feel harassed or poorly treated by anyone in the workplace, not just the boss, play the role of “broken record” by communicating how you feel three times. You can tell the boss that you really care about her feedback and what she has to say, but she doesn’t have to raise her voice, and you can end the phrase by telling her to please not treat you like that again.
Another tip is to find a way to make changes in yourself in the way you approach your boss (although it’s clear that sometimes the results are the same). However, if you know that your boss is under pressure on a particular assignment, how about approaching her before she comes to you with the work and ask her how you can help her make the deadline easier? What is her priority work right now? Find out what she needs help with before she comes to you.
Last but not least, Bissonnette advises victims of abusive bosses to “kill them with kindness”! Instead of lowering yourself to her level by lashing back or stressing yourself out, bring the person up to your level where kindness has more power than ignorance. Life is complicated and messy for many people and perhaps just being kind is exactly what the boss might need most at this time. Think of three ways to be kind to this manager. One tip is to offer to buy her a cup of coffee when you are going to get one yourself. Another tip is to continue asking her if she needs help, as I mentioned above. This may or may not work because you do not have control over other peoples’ behaviours – only your own.
I wish you lots of luck with finding another job and I am sure you will have learned a tremendous amount in your current challenging workplace. Take this as a learning experience, and move forward.
Bissonnette, D. (2004). 30 ways to shine as a new employee. A. Milt & Sons
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