I work at a company that is notorious for how poorly they treat their employees. Worse than that, I have what may be the single worst manager in the entire company. In the past year, he has berated me in front of co-workers, made nasty comments about my appearance, complained when I took maternity leave, listened in on my calls and rifled through my papers, and I think the final straw was last week when he told me I should get out of sales, because it’s a “man’s world.”
I am a divorced single mom of two kids and not able to quit unless I have another job lined up for financial reasons. I have begun my job search but please advise me on how I can tolerate this man until I am able to leave.
Amy in Arizona
I don’t think there is a person reading this blog who hasn’t gone through what you are experiencing. I’ve actually written about this subject before but discussing a co-worker rather than a boss.
I am glad to hear you are searching for a new position because the inevitable stress that accompanies working for a dick can have a profound negative impact on your life in general and on your health in particular.
I don’t know how long you have been reading my stuff, but if you are following closely you probably know that the vast majority of letters I select for the blog include a subject I can personally relate to. Part of the reason I write about familiar issues is because I believe the most cogent advice I can give is usually on a subject with which I have dealt in the past.
I am also inherently lazy, so blogging about familiar topics is easier than doing actual research on something I know nothing about, e.g. ethics, sobriety or inexpensive shoes.
Here’s my point: we’ve all been there. I once worked for an organization so morally bankrupt and toxic that when you entered the office, you could physically feel the weight of the employee’s despair on your body. I’ve had a boss who physically assaulted employees and was soon thereafter promoted.
I once had a supervisor who was a highly prominent member of his church and who portrayed himself as extremely pious. He also was a skeezy perv who would make me
come in enter his office, shut the door, and read to him. He didn’t have a vision problem, he said he just loved the sound of my voice. He also apparently thought my eyes were located in my tits, since every time we spoke he focused his gaze upon my lovely lady pillows rather than my face.
Disturbing? Yes, but it bodes well for my success on the radio so I’ll try to look at the bright side.
Although she wasn’t my boss, I once worked with someone very high up in HR who repeatedly referred to a subordinate as a “fat cunt.” This was especially funny to me because this woman, let’s call her Missy, wasn’t exactly the picture of health.
She also was a prodigious liar and a legendary suck-up, which explains her continuing success at the piece of shit company she works for.
Once again I’ve gotten off-track. What can you do to minimize your suffering while you look for another position? I’ve listed below a few ideas, but if you utilize them and end up terminated, please be advised you cannot sue me for damages. See disclaimer here: About Ask DesCamp
1. Document absolutely every incident of unprofessional conduct and request a meeting with HR to go over the specifics of the treatment you are receiving. Make it clear to your boss that you won’t tolerate his continued bad behavior.
2. If the meeting with HR does not yield any positive results, request a transfer to another supervisor if that is possible.
3. Educate yourself about potential employers. One of the biggest flubs you can make in an interview is to not be armed with information about the company, its customers and products, senior management, etc.
This isn’t really advice on how to deal with the boss, but I do think it is important to work your ass off now to get interviews and to perform well in them. The sooner you get a new position, the sooner you can get away from this atomic wedgie shit stain on the shorts of corporate America.
4. When he makes comments that are clearly inappropriate, go on the record immediately registering your discomfort. For example, the next time he says sales is a “man’s job,” remind him that those types of utterances are not appropriate in the workplace, then follow up with HR.
You could also fight him with humor. For example, if he makes an unflattering comment about your appearance, you could respond,
“You know, Dick, you have made an awful lot of observations about my looks over the years. With the amount of time you spend looking at me and thinking about me, I’m starting to worry that you might be considering taking a run at me romantically.”
Continuing on in your most earnest voice, you lower the velvet hammer:
“I feel like I should let you know I am not interested in a personal relationship with you. Since you know my ex-husband you also know my standards are exceptionally low when it comes to looks, intelligence and career success, but let’s not kid ourselves: I do have standards.
Have you considered asking out Michelle? She’s just divorced a notorious con-man and cheater and her self-esteem is in the toilet along with her lunch every day. Here, let me find her number for you…”
I’m not sure I have much more advice to give you, but I am sending good vibes into the universe for you and I hope you are able to get a new job soon. Be very careful about jumping ship without thoroughly investigating your new employer and sussing out what it will be like to work for your new boss. No sense doing the jump from bad to just-as-bad or worse.
Best of luck!