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What should I do?

(19 Posts)
sosomis Mon 06-Dec-10 18:39:14

I have just moved this from chat - hoping to get some more advice : Update, have joined a union today smile

Have name changed for this and put it here, hoping to get some help sad. I really am unhappy at work - not because of the job but because my boss is just awful. She is putting me under so much pressure and I, quite literally have no-one above her to turn to. I know that sounds silly, but it is true - she is the top, and has no senior. There is a board of trustees, but I have attempted to talk to the chair before who simply agrees with my boss and is no help. I don;t belong to a union, and, although I know a lot of people will disagree, have not found unions very helpful in the past. I spoke to ACAS recently and they weren't terribly helpful either! the latest 'capability' she has put me on (she is always doing this, depsite that fact that I know i fulfill my job description (and more) to the last dot,) states i am not allowed to talk to anyone about how I am feeling, except her and that she will sack me on the 24th January if I don't reach her standards. She is a control freak, and I am so unhappy. Do I leave? I've been in this post for 18 months and apart from this, do enjoy my job. All the other staff,(who I manage) can't stand her either but they don;t have to deal with her in this way. Please advise me!!

AMumInScotland Mon 06-Dec-10 18:43:45

Personally, I'd be looking for a new job, pronto. If you work directly to her, have no avenue to resolve things, and find her this difficult, then leaving would be the obvious choice, if you can find anything suitable to move to of course.

sosomis Mon 06-Dec-10 18:47:34

I am thinking that too - but I do actually like the job. It's just her!! It's a fairly small market here too, and it would be difficult to get another post in the same field without having to deal with her in one way or another. The job market is ok here I will add, but my salary is very good - I'm not terribly young either, so would find it hard to do something else. I guess I need to know if I have any rights or if I should just let it go and leave quietly

hairyfairylights Mon 06-Dec-10 19:14:56

Can you be more specific about what the issues your boss has raised with you, and whether she has told you how you need to improve, and specifically you need to do?

hairyfairylights Mon 06-Dec-10 19:15:14

what you need to do I mean.

flowerytaleofNewYork Mon 06-Dec-10 19:57:01

When you say you want to know if you have any rights, what sort of rights do you mean?

I don't think you can stay there long term tbh. It's all very well liking your job, but if your line manager is so awful it has such an impact on your daily life that it could be the best job in the world and still be unbearable!

Are you on some kind of final warning or something?

sosomis Tue 07-Dec-10 09:06:21

Not on a final warning no - but this is the second time she's put me on capability - the first time was a year ago and she took me off with no warning or anything like that. This time she just annouced that I wasn't doing well enough and she was putting me back ojn it, and has since given me two different versions. One of the comments is about 'not talking to anyone apart from her' if I have any problems!

flowerytaleofNewYork Tue 07-Dec-10 10:22:53

If you're not on any kind of warning then she won't be able to sack you in January for not meeting standards.

Is she outlining where she feels you are not up to standard in your job, giving you examples and making sure you know how to improve?

I'm finding it difficult to know what advice you're after really. You ask 'should I leave?', and my opinion is that if you love your job but your boss makes things pretty unbearable, that's something it's virtually impossible to change, so yes, I think you should consider leaving. Then you ask whether you have any 'rights' but I'm not really sure what you mean. If she sacks you straightaway and you are not on any warnings that would probably be unfair dismissal, so yes you would have rights to bring a claim at that point.

If what you want is to improve your working conditions, given the circumstances you mention, with the chair already aware and agreeing with your boss, I think it's very unlikely bringing a formal grievance is going to improve anything for you. I always think the best way to deal with behaviour like this is to challenge it yourself, but it's not clear what she's actually doing other than raising concerns with your performance, so it's very difficult to advise how you can address the behaviour yourself to make things more bearable.

Can you give some examples so we can think about how you can improve things?

llareggub Tue 07-Dec-10 10:32:49

I may be completely off-track here, and apologies if I am, but what does she mean by "not talking to anyone about problems but her?"

Is this a reference to the chat you had with the chair of the trustees, or is it a reference to your attitude at work? I say this because I've worked with someone who was great at their job but used to moan about everything all of the time and it was incredibly demotivating. She used to achieve all of her targets but the rest of us really struggled with her behaviour.

I'm saying this because we all found it really difficult to explain to her why her manager was always so unhappy with her when on paper she did a great job.

I'm sorry if I've read far too much into your manager's comment, but it struck a chord with me.

If you think the comment was in reference to your chat with the Chair, then I think you can infer quite a bit from that. I agree with the others, your position is probably untenable now and I would probably start making tracks to move on.

In your shoes, I'd start looking at my attitude to work. If you can give yourself say, 6 months, map out a plan of the things you can do at work to improve your CV. When things get bad at work, think to yourself, "if I can just get X objective done and dusted, then I will be more marketable." Take on as many new projects or tasks as you can to give yourself that edge, and take as much from the organisation as you can to help yourself.

I hope this makes sense. I'm sorry if my first lot of comments were completely off-base!

sosomis Tue 07-Dec-10 11:00:08

I am sounding a bit muddled aren't I? I guess, what I need to know is this:

Does she have any right to tell me not to talk to anyone ie: If I am unhappy and feel I am being treated in a poor manner by her, there is no senior for me to speak to - unlike the staff below me who can talk to her if they feel I am doing something wrong;

Is it 'normal' or usual to change a capabilty document - I have been given two different ones, with similar areas to improve on in them, but they are different in style - the first was a list of things i 'need' to improve, the second had examples;

Thirdly, I guess I just wanted 'human' opinions of how other people would feel in my shoes!

I hope i'm not a moaning minnie llareggub! The staff are always really positiveabout me(boss says) when she's talking to them!

flowerytaleofNewYork Tue 07-Dec-10 11:08:42

Employment law just isn't that prescriptive in terms of her not having the 'right' to tell you to bring problems to her as your line manager, and to be honest although telling you you are 'not allowed' doesn't sound reasonable, wanting you to stick to raising your concerns with her isn't unreasonable in my view.

Is there a grievance policy at work? You do have the right to raise a grievance and although that would usually be with your direct manager, in most cases if the grievance is about your line manager it will be heard by someone higher, so if you are being treated badly and attempts to resolve the situation directly with your boss have failed, you do have that option available to you.

But yes if you have concerns about how your boss is treating you I think it's reasonable of her to want you to speak to her about them rather than running to her boss (as she will see it).

In terms of a capability document being in different formats, nothing wrong with that. Many organisations don't have a formal performance management/capability procedure so might not have forms in place. Sounds like the second one is an improvement on the first one, giving examples, which is positive. What's your concern about the change in format?

Are you able to give examples of how she's treating you badly?

matildarosepink Tue 07-Dec-10 11:19:26

Another thing to consider is whether you can have a union rep or chair of trustees in your meetings with her if you want to take your grievances further. Within my (admittedly limited) experience bullies in the workplace tend to get diminished the more public their comments are required to be. Tape your meetings (giving her notice, of course) and take your own notes. This is probably the only way to establish whether you are being reasonable. (And I'm sure you are!!)

What you need from her are some written goals (SMART objectives, in other words). It's not like you don't like your job or aren't any good at it.. if what she's doing and saying is emotionally driven, SMART objectives will remove the emotion from what she's saying and will set you up to succeed. Sounds like removing the emotion is what's needed here.. Do you know who filled your position before she did? Not necessarily to have a big bitch session (that's what MN's for!) but to find out how past problems have been overcome. Believe me, it she's that difficult, you won't be the first one to come across this.

matildarosepink Tue 07-Dec-10 11:25:47

PS Also sounds like she may try and sack you in Jan - now's the time to gather as much criteria-based evidence as possible to prove she has no case (you said you're meeting your job description to the letter, which I'm sure you are.)

matildarosepink Tue 07-Dec-10 11:26:44

She'll get very nervous if she has to explain all this to a tribunal - there is no place for emotion there.

Have confidence - you have right on your side, all you need is the evidence to demonstrate it.

sosomis Tue 07-Dec-10 11:35:08

I am the first person in this role - well, apart from a guy who she sacked after three weeks before me! I know I'm being emotional - it's hard not to be. It's difficult as well to give specific examples. I just feel quite undermined at times. The point of me being here is to run the place, whilst she gets on with being the Director, but she will not let me make decisions, or do things my way without interefering (despite things being perfectly ok) then she has a go at me and says shes unable to do her job because she's having to check up me constantly!

llareggub Tue 07-Dec-10 11:42:45

Have you given any thought to how best to manage her, and I do mean that in way that you'd manage your team? It sounds like you are both new to the role, in that she is used to do doing your job and needs help moving on into the role of Director and can't quite leave it behind.

Could you think about how your reporting relationship could be better managed so that you both get what you need from each other?

StillSquiffy Tue 07-Dec-10 12:10:53

You think you are doing fine. She thinks you are not doing well enough. If neither of you changes your view then you will not resolve this, no matter how long you have.

I have no idea who is right or wrong, but it is clear that there is clear blue water between the two of you. You need to bridge that or your role is untenable, and she has the cards because she is senior and is supported by her chair.

You need to work this out by discussion with her - I don't think anything else will work. A union will only be bale to support you if it is 'recognised' by your firm - is that the case? If there is no formal recognition between your firm and union the firm can refuse to let them become involved. And I am not sure they will be able to help much here anyway.

I think you need to have a 'grown up' conversation - tell her that you are willing to do anything to improve how she perceives you but you don't see the problems that she does and you think you both need to agree how to carve things up and how to go forward. If you don't align yourselves then I am not sure you can move forward. FWIW if you are the office manager (or similar) then I totally agree that you should not be discussing this with anyone other than her or the trustees. I think talking to peers and juniors undermines the leadership role you have.

sosomis Tue 07-Dec-10 12:15:29

I don;t want to talk to peers or juniors - I just wish there was someone appropriate available!

sosomis Tue 07-Dec-10 12:16:20

Fantastic advice from you all by the way. Thank you! We are very different people and it is a matter of 'bridging' that gap.

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