Boss Seems To Have It In For Me

Question to Ask the  Workplace Doctors about trouble with a manager: Her and the the other girl lie to me about the schedule, and always blame me for their mistakes. I wanted more hours and was told the budget would not allow it, so she would rotate our shifts, and switch between opening and closing.

I’ve been working for a retail store for the past six months. My manager seemed to like me, and always told me what a good employee I’ve been. I’ve tried to be there for them to take shifts when others don’t show up, do my job, and work very hard for my low salary.

She went away for a month and I and another girl ran the place. The district manager was always bragging me up, but now that the store manager is back, things went downhill. Her and the the other girl lie to me about the schedule, and always blame me for their mistakes. I wanted more hours and was told the budget would not allow it, so she would rotate our shifts, and switch between opening and closing.

I ended up doing all the closing shifts, and not having Sundays off which was originally the deal. I went to complain to her, and now I see she just hired a new girl and cut my hours in half.I addressed her again and she said she didn’t need to explain herself and hung up on me. I wrote an e-mail to the district manager, going above her head b/c I don’t know what to do. It’s summer time now and extremely hard to find a job for my qualifications. What should I do next?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

I can imagine how frustrating and frightening this is for you–and it seems that your manager could have handled this much better by communicating directly with you about whatever it is that is concerning her.You have only worked there a very, very short amount of time–six months. It would not seem very wise to have left such a new employee running the store for a month, unless the other employee is very experienced.I would guess it was during that time that the other employee either had bad experiences or simply developed negative feelings–and the manager has confidence in her opinions. Or, your manager may have resented feeling that the district manager gave you undue credit. Or, perhaps the district manager was supportive but nevertheless had concerns about some aspect of your work. Or, all of those could be contributing.If you look at your schedule and the recent changes, it becomes apparent that the goal is reduce the time she and/or the other employee work with you.

She may feel she can’t easily fire you right now, but is doing the closest to it she can get. She apparently trusts you to handle the business at closing and on Sundays–times when someone who is not capable would not usually be left alone. That is why I think it is a personal conflict rather than deficient performance–although that might not be accurate.

Usually I would suggest that instead of talking to your manager about the hours you are working, you talk to her about what has caused the problems between you and her and the other employee. Perhaps you have done that, but it doesn’t sound as though you have.

That might not have helped, but you might have found out something that would have helped. There may have been a misunderstanding about something you said to the district manager, when your manager was gone. Maybe there is something about your work, behavior, appearance or some other issue that she doesn’t have the confidence to talk to you about, so she uses this way to ease you out of work.

However, now that you have written an email to the district manager, I doubt your manager will be amenable to discussing very much at this time. I don’t think you were wrong to send the email, since your manager apparently didn’t want to discuss the matter further. But, it will probably create some bad feelings.When she talks to you about this, as I’m sure she will, be sure to tell her that you felt badly about going to the district manager, but you didn’t think you had any other options. Say that you need the salary from a full work week and you didn’t know why you were being reduced, since you had never been told you were doing anything wrong.

Use that as a chance to ask her if there is something you need to stop doing, start doing, or do differently, so you can be better at the job. Make it clear to her that you are willing to make changes and would always have been willing to do that, if you had known there was a problem.

Perhaps if your manager can understand why you went to the district manager and how confused you are about what caused the problem in the first place, she will see that she should have been talking to you about this all along.On the other hand, keep in mind that in most situations, an employer doesn’t have to explain their actions, even their action of dismissing an employee. It’s different in some jobs, but not usually in a retail business. If you have the opportunity, you may want to talk to your manager even before she talks to you. That would depend upon your relationship with her and how the situation develops. Whenever you talk to her, keep the focus on wanting to be a good employee and asking for her feedback about it. I hope it isn’t too late for you and your manager to find a way to improve things together.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what develops.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.