Dear Barb—Meet the New Boss

Dear Barb:

Recently, I began working at a small company doing administrative work for the summer.  I’m halfway through my degree in business and looking forward to graduating.  Most of my summer jobs have worked out well, but this one is challenging.  My boss is in her early thirties and this is her first time as manager.  Her position seems to be going to her head! She is very demeaning towards all the staff.  There are three full-time staff and three part-time, summer staff.  I spoke to the permanent employees and they said she used to work with them and then got promoted.  They said she used to be great, but changed a lot when she got promoted.  Apparently the office has been running the same way for ten years and now she has decided to change everything.  Some of the other employees have tried to challenge her, as a result she treats them poorly and gives them the shitty jobs, and therefore people are backing off.  I don’t think this is right and I do not feel we have to put up with this, but we are fearful if we go over her head, the situation will become worse.  Do you have any advice for us? Thanks, Cathy.

Hey Cathy:

Thanks for sharing your very important issue.   Having daily problems with your boss can make for a very unpleasant place to spend your days.  Has anyone spoken to your boss about how she makes them feel.  Often people don’t realize how their words can make another person feel.  As you said this is the way she treats everyone, not just you, therefore all the employees need to get together and share their experiences.  Once this done, and there seems to me a common consensus, arrange to have a staff meeting with your boss where everyone can share your feelings with her.  If she is not open to this, then you will have to go to her superior.

Since she was promoted into this position, it must be difficult for her as she went from being on the inside of the circle to the outside.  She also has to find her place in the hierarchy.  Also, it is possible she wasn’t trained properly to assume this position.  By bringing the situation to everyone’s attention, changes can be made.  In the meantime, there are things you can do to better cope with the situation.  For example, try not to take things personally.  Some people are very sensitive and creating a tougher exterior may allow you to let the small things go.  However, if you feel your feelings are valid and you were belittled, bring it to your boss’s attention right then.  This will give her a chance to explain what she meant, or at least to realize how she made you feel.  Keep in mind, this is a big step in your boss’s life and everyone needs time to adjust.  Thanks Cathy.

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