Rude Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a rude manager: I want to file a complaint against him but considering he’s the main store manager, I don’t think going to HR would help me at all.

I work in a retail department store. My boss came in one morning in a very bad mood because of customer complaints in one of the other departments. He’s not my department manager. He’s the main store manager. Anyways, my department manager had the day off, so whenever we ran into problems or needed assistance, we had to contact him.Towards the end of the day, I rang up an order incorrectly because it turned out to be a unique and complicated one; we’re not trained to deal with several unique situations so we have to learn as we go. I asked the store manager for help to see how I could resolve the situation without causing any further inconvenience to my customer (who was great because he was incredibly patient, which I truly appreciate).

My boss told me to make the customer wait while he became available. At that moment a coworker with more experience than me clocks in and I let him know of the situation. He informs me that the item had to be re-registered into the system with the help of one of the associates in the back warehouse. I went ahead and did that, and the warehouse associate, being new to the situation as well, re-registered it incorrectly.

I went to the HR office, where the store manager was, to let him know and, very rudely, he points out why it was incorrect and slams the door on my face.I know that managers and superiors can be rude to workers without really being held accountable. However, I THINK there is a limit to how rude a superior should be.

I want to file a complaint against him but considering he’s the main store manager, I don’t think going to HR would help me at all. Would complaining to corporate help me at all? Should I complain about this at all? Should I quit? Should I not complain and just go straight to a lawsuit? Honestly, it’s not the first time he is rude to me or any other associates. It happens very often and this, I feel, was the last straw. I would appreciate your point of view.

Signed, Frustrated Salesman

Dear Frustrated Salesman:

You are correct there should be a limit to a superior’s rudeness. And you also are correct in weighing how to register a complaint: going to Human Resources, quit, or law suit. Let me address those three options in reverse order:

Sue? Let me dismiss your last suggestion of suing. We are not legal advisers, but I doubt that an employee can win a case for rudeness unless it is discriminatory for race, religion, sexual harassment, age, etc. So dice that idea, but check it out if you wish with an attorney. (Usually an attorney will listen to your complaint in a phone conversation or short interview without a charge.)

Quit? Can you afford to quit? Can you easily get another job? Is your retail job just a job or is it one step on a career path? I understand the reasons you are considering “voting with your feet”; however, is that is a good option until you have another job in hand? Perhaps the more important thing you can do as a result of having a rude boss is to learn from this; learn if this job is what you want to do all your life and if so what the steps are you need to take to make it a career. Possibly, this incident will motivate you to think through where you are in your life and to make plans for your future. Obviously, this particular sale was something for which you and coworkers had not been well trained. Also you need to learn how to cope with a rude boss.

Human Resources? You are torn between fight and flight. Your anger with a boss, this time the main store manager, says fight him. Your head says, “Careful he’s the big boss.” HR is a place for you to register you concerns. You can do so both orally and in writing. You should ask for an investigation of the incident you describe in this query and others; with what, when, where, who was involved and observed and the context.

Doing this is to bypass your rude store manager, but inevitably he will be made aware of your complaint and you should be prepared for feeling you are in his sights for retaliation.

Therefore, you might as well grit your teeth and confront your rude boss. Request a private meeting with him, disclose how you feel over this behavior and other times, and ask his help to avoid it in the future. In short approach it with feeling and a problem-solving attitude. Ideally your store manager will appreciate you coming to him, will apologize and arrange for you and others to get the kind of training needed.

If he responds negatively, then you can tell him you are going above to his boss and/or Human Resources to make your complaint. Bosses boss the way they learn to boss. If they learned that they get the job done by being rough and rude, they will continue to boss that way until they learn that doesn’t work. You at this moment are one who can help your store manager learn that rude bossing is bad bossing. To do that you must see yourself as a person who should treated with respect and as one who has a voice. Otherwise you will work angry and scared.

Hopefully, you have earned credibility; that you have proven to be a responsible valued sales person. This will make what your say about how you want and don’t want to be bossed respected, even if not appreciated by your boss. Your question to us is a first step in thinking though how you will confront this boss and doing so is an on-the-job training about how to deal with authority. Confronting this rudeness could result in the start of a good boss-bossed relationship. Of course that takes time and good communication. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that the kind of workplace you want. Getting to that doesn’t just happen; it takes you making your concerns known.

William Gorden