How Should I Handle My Employer’s Outbursts?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about difficult husband and wife bosses: the worst part is that when they don’t understand something or think an error has taken place, they yell and chastise us in front of the other employees BEFORE having any of the correct information.

I work directly with a designer (not a high profile one, but the business does very well). My issue is that my employers are a husband and wife team that micro-manage their employees. I don’t even know the passwords for my work email, and we are not allowed to even google something. Work stuff only. They are constantly peering over our shoulders and monitoring our every move. And the worst part is that when they don’t understand something or think an error has taken place, they yell and chastise us in front of the other employees BEFORE having any of the correct information. And in most cases, the issue has been resolved beforehand and no one is in need of reprimanding.

Basically, they overreact, don’t really know what we do at our desks all day, yell at us as if they do and try to manage every step we take. I’m in my mid twenties and have been here for a year. I work very hard and have had excellent reviews all around. However, I feel babied, disrespected and not trusted. I like my job, but hardly a day goes by where I’m not being chastised publicly and treated like a moron. I’ve even been told on several occasions, that I should NEVER argue my point with them. And that my employers are to correct me, and that is that. Even if I’m right OR they told me something completely different the day before! – they are both very flighty and often forget the rules they put in place, changing them constantly) HELP!! How should I handle this?

Signed, That Is That

Dear That Is That:

Wow! You are frustrated, angry and at your wits end. It surprises me that you’ve had good reviews. Apparently, you are a good actress or actor hiding your resentment. You probably vent your frustrations to who ever told you never to argue and that that is that. You are walking on eggs and working scared.

Your options are

· Seal your lips lest your venting and gossip about your micro-managing employers get back to them, and it would.

· Get backbone of steel. Tell your employers that argument is good for them and you. · Think big and small; generate ways that could make your firm more successful.

· Enlist your coworkers in a coup.

Seal. This first option is one you probably will consider because you like your job and don’t have another one in the wings. It simply means that you learn to accept what is until you can find work that is employee friendly. Outside the workplace you get your sense of worth and voice by activities that encourage you to be who you are.

Backbone. You have a voice that has been squelched. This option entails a face-to-face encounter. Rather than to mumble and grumble to coworkers, friends and/or family, you ask for a private meeting with your employers. You prepare a statement of what you appreciate about your work and a do and don’t list of how you want (and don’t) want to be treated. A log of several days of times and incidents that support the dos and don’ts can be held in reserve. With this preparation you need to think of the language that you might use; words that you’ve avoided when speaking to your employers to this date. And most of all you need to think through whether you have the guts to confront them and are willing to suffer the possible negative consequences.

Big and small. Rather than encounter, indirectly help your employers see the value of collaboration. Review those projects that you’ve completed and their value to this small but successful designer firm. Along with this you might think big and small; of ideas that could make this business even more successful. Think as you would if your employers had engaged an independent firm schedule a focus group to which you and some of your coworkers were invited; a focus group that invites both negative and positive ideation that would then be taken to the employers to consider.

Would not the micro-managing be lessened and more tolerated, if you can present a collaborative model to them; a way of engaging you and others more as valued “partners”? Possibly they could gradually absorb a collaborative way of thinking and acting if you bring big and small profitable suggestions to their attention. In short, perhaps you’ve enabled them to micromanage by not feeding them big and small ideas to improve the quality of their business.

Enlist a coup. Not recommended; however, numbers do make a difference. The problem is that often coworkers don’t stand with one when you count on them. These are just several options. Do any of them make sense for your situation? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and if you can make that your goal which ever option you elect, I think the odds are in your favor.

FOLLOW UP: Thank you for your insight. I appreciate all of the help that I can get! I have another question if you don’t mind. I’ve only been at this job for about a year (10 months actually) and my biggest concern is that if I leave too soon, then I have squandered all of the time I spent working here as another employer may not appreciate less than a year of work in a business like this.

When is it a good time to bow out? And if I decide to if another opportunity arises, how should I do it? My job does not require a degree. Instead, it demands lots of detailed training, as it is administrative, and there are lots of specific tasks to be learned. When I was hired, I was asked if I planned to stay for a few years and help build our sales team’. But now, I’m not sure if this is where I want to stay. I’m not cut out for an administrative desk job. They’re too stressful. Do I have to give more than two weeks notice?

My coworker is leaving and has given 3 months notice- granted she is my supervisor and her job require much more work. BUT…. I just want to leave on a good note, if and when I decide to go. If And When Two weeks is a usual notice of resigning.

Reply: You are right that it is best to leaving a job on a good note. You feel responsible because you made a commitment to help build your firm’s sales team; however, almost all new hires would make that kind of long-term commitment. And it is assumed both by the employer and employee that staying with a company depends on their mutual satisfaction. In these times and almost any time, you shouldn’t leave before having a new offer in writing. Meanwhile, learn all you can and prove worthy of your pay. It is clear to me that a decision to leave is not far off unless you can resolve the problem you have with your designer employer couple. Do keep us posted on what you elect to do. To be sure you must be accommodating, however, difficult is your boss-bossed relationship, but it’s your life to live. And you don’t have to apologize for asserting your self.

William Gorden