Targeted To Be Blamed

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about much conflict with boss in a family-run busness: Are all family-run small businesses this shady and despicable?

I work for a company where the boss’s daughter is a manager who blames everyone else for her faults. Over the time I’ve worked there, she’s made me look bad several times to cover up for her own wrong doing. She is known for being a witch and seems to have anger control issues. The only problem I have is when she makes false accusations.

I have a history of tardiness but have recently cleaned up my act. Out of all of the people that work here I am the only one aside from my immediate supervisor that gets here on time. Regardless, my supervisor (mid-aged) probably sees me as a young 28 year old threat to his job and also tries to make me look bad enough not to get promoted but good enough not to get fired.If I walk in 3 minutes late, he will immediately down me in shame and report me as being very late. In reality, this year he’s been late more times than me. The receptionist is usually 10 minutes late every day and the senior technician is 15 minutes late every day.

Regardless, my supervisor beats down my great ideas with sarcasm, passes stuff he can’t complete (because of middle-aged confusion?) onto me, and continues to try oh so hard to keep me looking just bad enough not to get promoted. He might be an big jerk 90% of the time but regardless, I kinda like the guy. I do everything they ask me and take the ultimate pride in being the most dedicated worker at the company.Back to the owner’s daughter, she flat out always has a terrible attitude and is always running to her dad and blaming her own mistakes on me. In addition to that, she changes policy every two weeks without any notification and then when I write a ticket a certain way, she says that that’s not really how I’m supposed to write it (even though that’s how she that was how I was supposed to write it) and then reports me.

The past two days I was very ill and could not even get out of bed. Of course I report as soon as the receptionist gets in at 8:10. After a few harassing calls beyond this, one of them stating that I had left her with an open case and not explained to her (which I explained to her in person in full detail the day before I was out), I decided to come to work the next day even though I was sick.I was informed that I would be docked pay for the two days I missed even though I work salary and work after hours and unexpected weekends almost every week. I got pretty mad and asked her about the unpaid additional hours I work every week. She replied with a bunch of lies about my performance and so on.

Shaking from outrage, I replied to her that lying was not going to get her anywhere in life and that she should be ashamed of the way she acts-BIG MISTAKE!!! I would not have done this if I had waited an hour. Her dad was outraged and threatened to fire me but said he would give me one more chance (in reality the success of the company undoubtedly depends on me and I work for pennies-I account for 1/3 of the income of the company… for every $500 they bill a customer, I get paid $30).

I suckered up, resisted to defend myself (as they suggested at the beginning of the meeting), apologized to her and told the boss that I would like to stay at the company. I was planning on moving to another state next year but am having trouble because my girlfriend’s child will be included in the transition and we both must find jobs, although I have more family there.I am stuck between worrying if I should wait it out until it’s easier to move, try to rush the move this summer instead of next, or try to find another local job (which I am afraid I will feel stuck in again). What should I do? Are all family-run small businesses this shady and despicable?

Signed, Frustrated and Feeling Trapped

Dear Frustrated and Feeling Trapped:

I abridged your message to remove personal information and to focus on the most recent situation. Clearly you have a miserable working environment, but I don’t think there is a happy ending apart from quitting and letting them deal with the consequences.

If you are as valuable to the business as you say, you may find that they will ask you to stay or make concessions about your work. But, after all, you’ve been there quite some time and managed to deal with it, so they may figure you will tolerate anything.

You ask if all family run businesses are this way. No, they aren’t. However, one thing is for sure: Almost all people feel more loyalty for their own family than they will for other employees, no matter how valuable the other employees may be. They will tolerate things from family they would never tolerate from anyone else.On the other hand, it may be that you are not as necessary to the company as you think, and the conflicts in which you have been involved may make you seem less valuable. It doesn’t really matter whether the accusations are true, the fact is that your name comes up repeatedly. (You mentioned several major issues, but you imply there are many smaller but similar unfair accusations made all the time.) What you do will depend upon how marketable you are elsewhere, and whether or not you think things are so unbearable you can’t last until moving day. You can probably bet on the fact that nothing will change at work–unless it gets worse.I’m sorry to be so negative sounding about it, but that’s my honest opinion based on what you have said and what seems to be your opinion of the business and the people who work there.

It seems to me that you might want to have something better on your resume before you make the move in a year or so. Also, it doesn’t sound as though this manager or owner could be counted on for a great reference when you need it.Give yourself a chance to enjoy work more. Step out and find something that fits your skills. You may find you can make a much bigger salary to help you get ready for your move. But, if that is too scary–and I can understand the problem with quitting–then you will simply have to focus on work, keep doing the right things and get proof of anything that you think might be questioned.Best wishes with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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.