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Dear Wendy

I think my boss is crazy!

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Skyblossom Skyblossom 3 months ago.

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  • #696980 Reply

    I’m a 37 yo female professional. I’ve been in my career for 5 years. I have a history of excellent reviews. I’m not perfect but I believe I do a good job. I left a job about 5 months ago due to the schedule being just terrible. Way worse than was described to me when I signed on. I tried discussing it with my boss and nothing changed. I joined a new group 3.5 months ago. On paper everything looked great. I love my co-workers. I love my work. My boss is causing me trouble.
    When I signed on I agreed to work at two locations. Site A is ideal. I was to do 65% of my time there. Site B has issues. It’s understaffed. Requires many more hours than site A, is farther from my home and also the nature of the work is slightly different, it’s not something I really enjoy. Site B was 35% of my time. I could accept this.
    Before the job started, this new boss called me and said he needed to flex me up to 50% time at site B. This was to be a temporary solution to losing an employee there who would be replaced. I told him I was disappointed but I would work with it.
    Now 3 months later and a new schedule has come out and without speaking to me he has flexed me up to 65% time at site B. I was very upset. I sent a polite but firm email stating why I’d like to return to the previous arrangement. I cited my experience level (there’s about 8 people with less experience who can do this job). I cited that my professional interests are at site A and that is what I am passionate about. I stated that I had an issue at my previous job where my schedule was changed greatly from what we originally agreed upon and I ultimately left that position.
    My boss got the email. And went ballistic!
    I was called in. I was told I am unprofessional. That I have no goals. That I don’t know how to write an email. I asked him why other employees couldn’t take on this time at site B, those who are still working their way up in this career. He told me that despite my greater experience the other employees are “superior” because they have career goals. (Apparently I do not?). When I tried to discuss my career goals with him he cut me off every time. When I asked why I am not suited for site a but was suited for it when I signed on I was told “I always thought you would be best for site B”. That is simply not true.
    This went on for 45 minutes. A large portion of the conversation was circular logic. “You can’t go there without career goals. You’ll need to be there to get career goals” type comments
    Eventually after all this time I got my request. I’m now 50/50 at each site.
    But I was very disturbed by this encounter. I felt my original agreement with my boss was not honored. And when I brought this up I was berated. I know I am better off at site A and I know I deserve to be there.
    This guy gives me that bad feeling. Like I’m going to be continually screwed over if I stay at this job.
    Now what?

    #696984 Reply

    I have no idea what your next move should be but I’m sorry. I would document everything that’s happened so far. If this flares up again I think you might need to talk to HR.

    How long were you at your previous job? If it was a decent interval (like 3+ years) then consider aggressively searching for a new job. If not you need probably need to stick where you are for awhile to avoid the job hopping label. However that might be a label worth risking given the type of boss you’re dealing with. If you haven’t already check out Ask A Manager–she has a lot of great advice.

    #696992 Reply

    So, yes, your boss’s reaction sounds bad… angry, personally attacking, and over the top. And yeah, I wouldn’t really trust him going forward, to keep his word.

    But. I think you could have handled this better. First, you have to realize that companies and bosses have their own best interests in mind, not yours. Well, actually, first, you probably shouldn’t have quit that other job without having one lined up, because when you aren’t employed you lose some bargaining power in your job search. So you’re already in a bit of a one-down position. But hey, the new place made you an offer so you know they wanted you. Then they tried to change the terms. Were the original terms re: the sites ever in writing? Just curious. I assume this was an email exchange at the time, before you started? I think you were right to say this isn’t what you’d hoped, it’s not ideal, but you’re willing to do it for 3 months because there’s a need. But that’s where I would have asked for a commitment that it would only be 3 months. Then I would have checked in a couple times about it, in person, to see how the staffing is coming along.

    Now, you say when you saw the new schedule come out, you were surprised and very upset. And you wrote an email while you were upset. You may believe the time was polite but firm, but I bet it didn’t sound that way to your boss. You basically threatened to quit in that email! You probably should have gone home, cooled off, and come up with a good script with talking points, run it by some level-headed people, and then scheduled a check in with your boss to have a conversation about it.

    I don’t know if he’s crazy, but I can tell your email really set him off, your relationship with him is suffering, and you didn’t get the terms you wanted (65/35). He won. Look, there are times when someone is just totally unpredictable bananas and they attack you and throw you under a bus. It happens. But usually you did something to trigger it and weren’t strategic in terms of trying to manage their reaction.

    If you can be looking for another job, do so. While you’re still there, you’ll need to keep your head down for a while and show that you’re dedicated to your work and not a troublemaker. Observe your boss quietly and, if he’s got personality issues, learn what they are and think about how to work with them or around them. If I left every time I had a crazy boss, I’d be nowhere right now.

    #696997 Reply

    I am torn about how to respond. On one hand, this situation is not what you were told. On the other hand, you sound enormous entitled and not at all realistic about how jobs actually work.

    Your job doesn’t exist to endlessly give you things that you “feel passionate about.” It exists to meet the needs of your employer, who gives you money in return for meeting those needs even if sometimes it’s “not something [you] really enjoy.” Ultimately, yeah, you need to be in a job that you like, but even good jobs will have stretches where you need to do things that you don’t like or are inconvenient. This is what I think your boss means when he refers to “career goals.” You are unable or unwilling to deal with non-ideal work for short periods of time to help your employer out. That’s your prerogative but you shouldn’t expect your boss to like it. Think about this from his perspective. He’s trying to balance staffing needs across multiple sites and you basically threatened to quit over shifting work assignments.

    #696999 Reply

    Also, if you have something that you are upset about but wish to resolve, email is never the right format. Given your comical tone deafness to how you come across in your post I think that your “polite but firm” email probably did not send the right message. As Kate said, cool down, get a script together, and run it by other people. If necessary, send an email afterwards memorializing what you talked about.

    #697001 Reply

    To address a few of the replies: this job was lined up before I left the really bad one. There was a lag time between due to when they could form my contract, etc. I didn’t leave job A til I had Job B

    A bit more info: I have actually known my current boss for 7 years. I used to work for him then he moved on and now we are “back together again”. I have watched him do this to many other people over these 7 years. Ask for one thing, they agree, then change the terms. I thought this might happen to some degree. I could deal with that. But it’s never been this extreme. there have to be boundaries.
    I’m not entitled. I accepted lower pay for this job. I agreed to work at a site I didn’t like. Then I agreed to more time there very kindly. When he kept poking at this I felt it was time to establish a boundary.
    I did not fire off the email. I waited 48 hours from seeing the schedule to emailing him. I had three colleagues and my husband (who works in the same field) read the email and all felt it was professional and polite.
    While I agree in person discussions may be better, there is no documentation in that manner. The email provides documentation of our terms. It’s never in any of our contracts. That’s not an option.
    I’m not here looking for a character assassination. I’m not perfect. But I’m not entitled. I actually am very depressed about my abilities lately and this hasn’t helped. Also, my boss told me he received 35 emails from 30 employees regarding this schedule. All complaints. So I am not alone. And email is obviously used. Hopefully this helps clarify.
    There is a difference between having boundaries and confidence vs being entitled.

    #697003 Reply

    Also I should share that there are many members of my group, both senior and junior to me, who have gone to him and flat out refused to work at site B. Completely refused. So I guess I felt offering 35-50% of my time was quite generous.

    #697004 Reply

    Well, your approach didn’t work. It caused him to come at you and put a flag in the ground regarding your career aspirations. Reading both your posts, it’s clear your email set him off. You should have talked to him instead, taken notes, and maybe followed up later with s recap email.

    I once made a mistake with a boss who was known to throw people under the bus. She threw me under the bus because I didn’t handle it strategically and left myself open. I learned from that and it never happened again. I got her to promote me twice. I coached younger people on how to handle her. You can maybe move past this and work well with him again, but you need to acknowledge what you could have done differently.

    #697007 Reply

    Agreed that you can still have an in-person conversation AND document. Have the conversation, agree to the terms, and then send an email confirming. It sounds like he’s unreasonable to an extent, but sending emails to discuss grievances with a supervisor are risky. One, in that they may just not like that you’re emailing them and not talking to them face to face. Two, in that your tone may not translate well. Not to mention that if he’s getting dozens of complaints, I can see how he’d eventually start getting really frustrated.

    I’m with Fyodor in that I’m torn, and I don’t think this is a black-and-white situation. I think you and your boss both handled the situation in a way that escalated it. I think that it’s also risky trying to prove that you don’t “deserve” certain scheduling when you’ve only been working there for three months. At my job, we go on seniority, so if someone who’s been in the field for 10 years and in their job for a few months shows up and expects preference over someone who’s been at our organization for a few years, it’s not going over well. I also honesty don’t know what your email sounded like. I get emails from people all the time asking for the same thing, and there are some emails that are fine and there are some that really rub me the wrong way.

    It’s your choice if you want to switch jobs again, but you could also try to smooth things over. I assume after a certain point, unless you’re open to moving around, there’s a finite number of jobs in your area.

    #697008 Reply

    Another thing, if you know (and I don’t know if you did) that 30 people are sending him emails about the schedule, he’s going to be in an agitated state about it, and your 35th email on the pile is less likely to get you the kind of result you want. If you know everyone else is complaining, it can be good to take a different approach.

    #697012 Reply

    No offense, but why would you accept a job working for someone who you have seen treat his employees like this many time over seven year? Why would you expect to be the exception to his pattern of behavior? I hated my boss at the job I left a few months ago — he was a hot-head, played favorites, overworked his team, and offered zero support — and I’d never want to work with or for him again.

    I do agree that there is a difference between setting boundaries and seeming entitled, but I’m with Fyodor that jobs don’t exist to fill you with purpose, and since you’re so new to the organization, yeah, this did come off entitled. You don’t necessarily have seniority. I mean, it really sucks that things changed so much from what you originally agreed on, and I think that’s a valid reason to leave a job if you feel so inclined, but it sounds like the organization is trying to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

    I don’t know what your next move should be. If it were me, I’d probably keep my head down until it’s more appropriate to be looking for a new job. I wouldn’t want to work for this person because this seems to be his style of managing. But you knew this going in.

    #697015 Reply

    Your letters are a hash. You took a pay cut to go work for a boss you knew treated employees badly and didn’t stick with the deals made when they were hired. You’ve known him for 7 years and worked for him in the past and observed his interactions with employees during the time you were apart from him. You went into the job expecting that the deal you negotiated would change/evolve somewhat. So why did you do that? Why give up salary to take a job that had problems? Why take a new job expecting to spend something approaching half your time at a location and assignment you expected to be awful? You’ve now had two straight departments/bosses which you see as hugely flawed. That often means part of the problem is with you.

    One person’s firm e-mail is another person’s insubordinate. You do sound entitled. One severe no-no that you clearly committed was to argue to your boss that you, as the newby in the department, were superior to and more entitled than a group of your co-workers and that he therefore needed to change his agreement with them and the assignments they had in order to satisfy you, because in your mind they somehow were better fits for the job you didn’t want to do.

    The macro-solution to this is to improve the situation at site B, but from what you say, you discussed that not at all. You just tried to push co-workers into that cesspool, so you could scramble out on their backs. That shows a very unflattering side of you. You did this after deciding you liked your co-workers?

    Your boss isn’t crazy. He is in a frustratingly hard spot, because apparently his boss says he must continue to operate and staff site B and none of his employees want to work there. You were hired, in part at least, to supply extra staff at B. Circumstances change and the need for staff at B has likely increased. In his mind, you are the junior person, you hired on expecting to spend time there, you have experience there, you have less experience at site A than anyone else on the team and likely haven’t been there long enough to be doing really essential work, while the other staff members likely are. It sucks, but you were the likeliest person to commit extra hours to B.

    It sounds like your boss snapped at you, because you were just the latest person not willing to work at B. His approach in the discussion doesn’t sound like great management communication, but neither does your description of your side of the conversation. I can see you coming off as extremely selfish.

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