I have recently started a new job where people have worked for over 20 years – I was full of enthusiasm for the job and it seems to have backfired on me, The boss is winding down and a manager fills in for him, the manager seems to have taken the view that he has worked somewhere for so long and should be rewarded better, yet does not motivate the staff but seems to have given up and every suggestion I put forward he counteracts with a story about how he did things better the previous year or how things normally happen and should be done. I was brought in as things were not being properly done in my section at all and inherited a mess. I feel very sad as really enjoy the job and feedback I have had from people in other areas of the business is that I am doing a good job and created a vast improvementt, where as my manager just undermines my efforts constantly and has eroded my confidence to the point I am crushed. There is another female co worker there who basically calls my boss everything under the sun behind his back and let’s me know at every opportunity that they have been together for 20 years and also just seems to be bidding her time, bored and two lazy to look for a new challenge elsewhere.
It’s bizarre. I have approached the boss who seems to be of the view that it’s “ quirky “ behaviour from the manager when he suggests I put on a “ white dress “ and bounce around the installation I have created or mimics the things I say and do, where I find his constant I am torn apart about knowing who I can trust and once again approached my boss but handled it badly and said I felt undermined and bullied and was struggling to work out what was going on and said I felt my colleagues were stealing my joy ….My boss is a confusing person to work out as is happily married but seems very unfulfilled and a little unboundaried, which is something I can identify with. At times I wonder if he is flirting with me and generally don’t respond as the whole thing is ridiculous. We discussed some changes yesterday and he is now away for a while and then today the manager did his usual weird undermining – by being silent and working alone on his own project most of the day leaving the staff he should be supervising unproductive and as usual just before I leave adds a strange and very wierd remark about something to do with my boss and him as if they are all in it together and I am a big problem with my enthusiasm and big ideas – that are not actually big ideas at all they just are ideas because I like to be busy and feel very lucky to work in a place with so much to challenge me and enjoy – I cannot unravel any of it – my boss has said he wants me to stay and has offered to sit down with the manager with me, but if I do that I know my life at work will be a living hell as the manager and the female colleague will just carry doing what they are doing but worse. I feel like I have been fed to the wolves and left and perhaps my boss hopes I will just go away before he returns so things can go back to normal and change won’t need to happen. I cannot financially afford to leave this job so have no choice but to stay and it’s started to affect my home life.
View related questions: at work, bullied, co-worker, confidence, crush, flirt, my boss
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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 March 2019):
Hi wise owlThank you – I am the original poster and meant to rate your answer as a 5 as was so so helpful !Thank you – only wish I had asked for your advice previously – can see much clearer now and need to stay focused and isolate myself a little from the nonsense. I like to make friends at work – not friends in the sense to socialise with outside work but with all the values friendship involves like trust and consideration – unfortunately I am now in a situation where I have to watch my back at every turn, only time will tell if my hard work there has been worth the effort and if I can reach a place there that gives me back the joy and pride in my work I initially had. Thank you
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A male reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (11 March 2019):
There’s rarely any job without the politics. You are better-off staying focused on the work; and avoiding the unprofessional “emotional” shenanigans. Staying professional and focused; even when everyone else is being unprofessional, puts-up a wall that is difficult to get around. They’ll do things to poke and prod you; if they know they’ll get an “emotional-response,” rather than a professional counter-action. Send your proposals and ideas to both your boss, and his boss. If all the menfolk above your pay-grade are working against you; not much you can do but fall inline. Your female co-worker is a spy and is busy running interference. She’s likely undermining you at every-turn, out of jealousy.The manager is worried he’s not likely to be promoted and they may be considering bringing in someone from the outside, or a relative of the owner. The antsy behavior you’re experiencing from your manager is a symptom of that. He has plateaued and doesn’t see any further promotion from where he is, and knows he wouldn’t be considered if he tried. It’s not guaranteed to be handed-down to him. Maybe he feels threatened. If he doesn’t get promoted; you are competition his job. Maybe you’d do it better, and make him look bad. He got his job through politics and angling; but fears you’ll rise on your merit and good work. He’s been there awhile, and has grown long in the tooth; and short on fresh ideas. You might be a threat. If you stay focused in spite of his cage-rattling; you might outshine him. If the guy over him is a flake; it might not be easy, but you can ride this out. Just don’t emotionalize things. You’re at work, and you don’t have to take any of your colleagues home with you. Don’t engage in gossip or small-talk regarding the boss. Stay completely out of it.Pitch your own ideas, don’t offer them directly to your manager. If you have an idea, don’t disclose them unless you can get a higher review than his. Otherwise, you’re just bouncing them off the wall. You also have to present them like you’re serious; not just ideas off the top of your head. If you’re just bouncing them off your manager; all he’s doing is killing them before they hit daylight. He’s obviously discouraging your input.If you want them to be seen without being deflected or undermined; you might have to ask to make a presentation before both your manager and his boss. That is, if your business is structured and organized. Some workplaces are big, but a total mess at the top. Top-heavy with management, offbeat supervisors, and total dingalings for executives. Fly-by-night or small-time operations getaway with discrimination, sexual-harassment, and blatant nepotism; mainly because they’re not under much regulation or corporate scrutiny. They depend heavily on longtime clients or customers. They have to merge to grow. They don’t seem to have real team-players, ragtag management-styles, and lack vision. So good workers suffer. Especially women and people of another ethnic-origin.You’re a woman, and you’re going to see this a lot. Getting around men while trying to establish your own success and climb the ladder requires resourcefulness and determination. Outwitting a numbskull busy keeping you in your place takes gutsy moves. If you don’t have it in you; then you play by the rules they set for you.
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