My Boss Is Trying To Force Me To Quit

Question:

I am an assistant manager in retail, and I have recently started having problems with my supervisor who was once one of my close friends. I had surgery on my elbow that left me on light restrictions while working. I am able to perform my responsibilities with the exception of some heavy lifting. I worked for two months with these restrictions until my supervisor got mad at me and called our corporate office and told them she did not want me to work there under any restrictions. They sent me home immediately and I have been off work since.

They have now informed me that I am being demoted until my restrictions are lifted, and I have to give up my keys and managerial duties. During all of this my supervisor has told my junior associates that she is going to schedule me as little as possible and try and get me to quit. She has even discussed my performance review with them, and I have not received it from her yet. I have also learned that they have promoted one of the junior associates to a manager in training position. I have taken off quite a bit lately and even had to take FMLA because of my handicapped son being admitted into the hospital due to extreme life threatening complications. I feel that I am being victimized because of that. I understand their frustration sometimes, but on the other hand they were made fully aware of my circumstances before they hired me in this position. I feel if I accept the demotion and return to work I will be constantly humiliated and taken advantage of by my supervisor who obviously wants me to quit.

Signed,

Victim


Answer:

Dear Victim:

I want to sympathize with you. If I read you accurately, you say your boss, who was a close friend, has informed those above that she did not want you to work with restrictions while recovering from elbow surgery. Consequently now you have been off work for some time. When and if you return, you are to return no longer as an assistant manager. You will be demoted. You feel victimized because your attendance has been spotty because of your handicapped son. Add to this, you have heard that your former friend, your boss, has gossiped about you, saying that she will schedule as little work for you as possible and will try to get you to quit. I recount all these problems because they are obviously stressful for you. Yet they, too, add up to what you say you can partially understand if you put yourself in the shoes of your boss and management.

You conclude your account with the “I feel if I accept the demotion and return to work.” Can you afford not to return to work? Is it possible to fight to keep your assistant manager position that in fact you have not functioned in for some time? If indeed you were of value in that position in the past, your supervisor certainly has worked without your services for some time. Might returning to work in the lower position result in you eating crow and feeling humiliated? Probably, it would with your present feeling that you are a victim. Should your supervisor have gossiped about you? No, she should not have. And can you confront her and Human Resources about that? Yes, you can if you can prove that this is what she actually did. Can you re-earn her respect and friendship if you confront her or report her? Probably not. Have you asked and how have your answered these questions? I have taken the time to jot them down so that you might systematically think through where you are rather than just feel sorry for your self. The questions and your answers add up to the big questions: Should you swallow your pride and victimized feeling? And what alternative do you have? My answer to these is if you need work you must re-think your attitude and must return to work with cheerful, professional determination to once again earn the respect of co-workers and supervisor. This does not mean you must bite your tongue if you are verbally abused. You can say, “Stop” if this occurs. You can report it above. I see no other path you might take other than requesting a transfer within your company or seeking work somewhere else.

I expect that you would prefer a more empathic response, and I regret that my ability to respond more as though I were in your shoes is lacking. But in an attempt to honestly paint a picture based on your words has not resulted in one with bright brush strokes. I want and hope the best for you and I know that sometimes those with one problem have many more. So reflect on these thoughts and if they don’t seem fair and reasonable, talk back. Say, “I’ll prove the Workplace Doctors wrong. There are more positive ways to see my situation.” Work is work. Would that it could be for you something that is deeply satisfying and something that you love. Short of that, believe it can be better if you can see yourself as a victor, or at least a survivor, rather than a victim. Working together with your co-workers and supervisor with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden