Boss is Practicing Retirement

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss taking retirement:

I work in health care company with 3,000 employees, as a department secretary. Everyone notices the boss coming in late, taking two hour lunches and leaving early to get her nails and hair done. She cheats on her time sheet and fills it out herself rather than having me do it, even though that is part of my job description. She is unfair and won’t listen to new ideas.I have to listen to all the nagging and gossip.

It’s starting to wear on me, cause as you know, the secretary hears everything and gets most of rotten attitudes let alone having to be constantly reminded of my low position. We have worked together for thirteen years. She and others have worked together for twenty years. So I’m an outsider, which I like.

Any suggestions on how to deal with all of this? It’s not really bad enough to leave, yet, but I am getting frustrated about her cheating the institution I work for and am honest about.She has a boyfriend out of state who she is banking on for an engagement–he’s rich, of course. They’re both in the their mid 50’s and I wish he’d get on the ball. Ha! I prefer not to be friends in the office but a coworker. We clearly know way too much about each other which I feel is a big mistake and I will not let that happen again. There are only four of us in the office–all women. Thanks!

Signed, Frustrated Observer

Dear Frustrated Observer:

The key to this is your statement: It’s not bad enough to leave. That creates the question, “How bad is it?” Is it bad enough to go to HR and complain: To her boss to complain? Is it bad enough to go to her directly? Is it bad enough for everyone to get together to protest the situation? If not, it might just be a situation that has to be tolerated until it improves or gets so bad something MUST be done.

The only thing that is really reportable seems to be the issue of the time sheet. If she truly is committing fraud that could be a firing offense or even a criminal offense. If you know about it and don’t say anything you could be held equally responsible.The key to all of that is how much time and money is involved and whether or not you know for sure it is happening and if you know for sure she doesn’t have arrangements with her own boss about it.But, please do this: Either report it because you believe it to be wrong, or don’t report it. But don’t wait until you are angry about something else and report it out of revenge. That will present you in a very bad light.As for the other actions, you need to consider what harm it does to you.

It may seem unfair and you may feel envious, but it is up to her boss to watch her and to supervise her time. She may feel her actions are perks that she is allowed in exchange for the hassles of being a manager. Or, her boss may be aware that she has a liberal flex-time concept going on, but doesn’t care.It seems like your biggest challenge is dealing with the other employees. I don’t know if I read that correctly, that with your boss and you and the others, it totals four. That means there are only two others. Sadly two people can create the misery of a hundred demons if they are so self-absorbed they can only focus on dislike and complaining.The next time one of them starts to talk to you about your boss, try this:”You know, Lisa, I’ve decided I don’t want to keep complaining every time she leaves. That’s between her and her own boss. I’m just going to focus on my own work and not talk about it anymore. No offense to you and I know you’re frustrated.

But if you’re that frustrated, I think you should complain up, not to me.”Just keep saying that until they catch on. You’ll still hear them talking to each other, but you’ll have accomplished three things: 1.) You will reduce the level of complaining. 2.) You will show yourself to be loyal. 3.) You’ll be assertive and show your strength.

Maybe you will want to say something of a warning to your boss, maybe not. Maybe you will want to offer to be a witness if coworkers want to complain, maybe not. But, whatever you do, keep the totality of the work experience in mind.

If it’s gotten so horrible because of your boss’s actions that you can’t work, then you should do something about it, based on how your organization deals with such concerns. But, if the worst part of work is not your boss’s action, but rather, the talk by the other coworkers, then your ire should be directed to them. Tell them to leave you out of it, and get yourself focused on your job. In this economy managers and others come and go. Use this as a time to gain experiences, build your resume, gain new knowledge and skills and practice loyalty and commitment to your job. You’ll present yourself more positively and you’ll feel better about work. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens. Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe