Author Topic: Trouble with my boss  (Read 297 times)

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Offline Lucca

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Trouble with my boss
« on: July 22, 2019, 09:35:06 pm »
I'm having trouble with my boss and work environment, and I thought I'd ask for an opinion on it here, since so many of you both have more work experience than I do and a lot of you are also in my field. I will point out that there is no trans-related discrimination in my case as far as I can see, since I have not come out at work and am still presenting as a man. For most intents and purposes, I'm a cis-male in this case, and so is my boss.

I'm in my mid-twenties and I work at the IT help desk for a national corporation, mostly solving other employees' tech issues over email and the phone. This is my first full-time job after graduating college, and I've been here for two years. Besides gender dysphoria (which has been notably less of late due to my transition steps and support system), I have anxiety, depression, a painful chronic skin disease (hydradenitis suppurativa, if you want to gross yourself out by looking it up) sensitive eyes and head (which makes wearing both contacts and glasses a real chore at times), and while I have yet to be diagnosed with a related disorder (and am considering getting checked out for one), I have a lot of trouble interpreting vague or ambiguous social cues and conversations, and trouble detecting negative emotions in others (mostly anger or discomfort). My boss has been getting on my nerves for a very long time, and it's been getting increasingly worse over the last year or so. Pardon the wall of text, but I had to vent and seek some second opinions somehwere. Here are a few incidents or problems I've had with him:



+At one point I had a call that didn't go very well, the caller was not being very clear with what he wanted help with and was jumping between topics quickly. After ten minutes of the conversation going nowhere, he hung up. My boss had a private conversation with me a couple days later where we went over the call together, and he said he wanted my honest opinion on how it went. I didn't think I did anything wrong, so I politely explained my reasoning behind everything I said on the call as we went back and forth on it. At one point, my boss asked me if I could tell the caller was getting angry, and I said I couldn't, I have trouble reading emotions, especially over the phone. After awhile of this, with me thinking everything was going well, my boss suddenly raised his voice and got angry with me, declared that I "didn't want to learn anything", and abruptly ended the discussion. I asked him why he was angry since I was only giving my honest opinion like he asked me to, he insisted that he wasn't angry, I told him he seemed angry, and he threw it back at me by saying "if you're so bad at reading emotions, why are you taking your interpretation as gospel?" and then walked out. I mean, jeez, I may not be the best at reading emotions, but I think when someone raises their voice and walks off in a huff, I can tell they're angry...

I didn't talk to him about that incident for a long time after that, but it came up a few months later, and I told him I was hurt and confused by how he acted and how he got mad, and how he mocked me for something I'm sensitive about. He became personally insulted, and declared that he was not, in fact, angry at that time, and was hurt that I would suggest that he was. The conversation went nowhere, and he basically just turned it around on me to make me out as the villain for picking on him, and never apologized for raising his voice, mocking me, or leading me on to give my "honest opinion" when in reality he wanted nothing of the sort. Nothing about my own discomfort was addressed.


+For a long time, around my first year and a half at the company, attendance rules were very lax. Other employees said that no one cares if you don't arrive exactly when your shift officially starts, as long as you have forty hours at the end of the week. I got into the habit of not bothering to come in at 8:00 AM sharp, and was often a few minutes late, as was documented on my timesheet. No one ever said anything about it. A few months ago, my boss said he'd noticed me coming in late and asked me to start showing up exactly on time. Ok, I'm not sure why he took interest in that all of a sudden after over a year of saying nothing, but sure. I started trying to come in earlier and admittedly didn't get up to speed as fast I should have, but I did eventually make it. One day I accidentally slept through my alarm and was around forty minutes late, my boss basically just shrugged and said "it happens from time to time" and didn't seem think it was a big deal, and thanked me for letting him know I was going to be late when I woke up. After that, I decided to step up my game and started getting more sleep and trying harder to get to work on time, and succeeded in arriving exactly on time or earlier for the next two weeks.

Then I had another day where I slept through my alarm and arrived forty minutes late. My boss gave me the same nonchalant "it happens" response when I got in, so I didn't think anything of it. Later, he took me into a meeting where he said that he hadn't seen any significant improvement in my clock-in times, and if I was late again I'd get a written warning. He asked me to give my side of the situation, I told him I'd gotten in on time for the previous two weeks before that day, so there was definitely improvement, contrary to what he had said, and that I didn't know why I was sleeping through my alarm, but I was trying to work on it and can't guarantee it won't happen again in the near future. He basically just said that that wasn't his problem and that I was making excuses, but then I asked him if he wanted to leave it at that or if he actually wanted my opinion, and he said he wanted my opinion. So I kept trying to explain myself for the next half-hour and got nowhere, and I have no clue why he kept refusing to accept my "excuses" but also insisted that he wanted the conversation to continue and wanted to hear "my side" even after I offered to take his feedback and stop talking.

Cut to today, I've arrived on time every day since then, which has been around two months now, but in the annual review he gave me today, he said that I "lack integrity" because I refused to take responsibility for my tardiness and tried to blame others, and that he was disappointed that I did not show any improvement until he "threatened disciplinary action". Erm, sorry? That's patently untrue, for one; I had had almost two weeks of perfect clock-ins prior to our meeting, with the only black mark being the day I slept through my alarm, which I had been doing my best to make sure didn't happen again. (I now have a much louder alarm, which helps.) Two, he repeatedly asked me for my opinion, so the only reason it looks like I was refusing to take responsibility is because he dragged the discussion out way longer than it needed to be. I wouldn't have sat there and argued with him for a half-hour if he hadn't asked for it. He had also implied that the times I slept through my alarm weren't a major issue previously, now he was saying I was close to being fired for them.


+He constantly phrases direct orders as if they're suggestions. When he wants me to do something, he'll say things like "I would do X" or "I think X would best", which leads to frequent confusion. There have been many times where he's asked me to do something in a very ambiguous manner that sounds more like advice than an order, and then penalized me later because I didn't follow it. Other times, something that's phrased to me as a suggestion actually is just a suggestion, so it's not like I can just assume every suggestion is an order. I've told him many times that this confuses me and have asked him to stop, but he keeps doing it. This not only makes things extremely confusing for me and puts me on edge every time he talks to me because I'm not sure what he's trying to communicate, but even when I am reasonably certain what he means, I still feel disrespected because he hasn't bothered to make even the smallest effort to address me in a manner that would make me feel more comfortable.


+The specifics aren't important, but this being a tech job, there are certain devices and processes we are supposed to troubleshoot, and certain ones that we aren't. At least, that's how it is in theory. The problem is, there's a huge grey area between what we support and what we don't, and I frequently come to conclusions that my boss doesn't agree with, and he is often irritated by my decisions. I don't know how to work around this, since there are no black and white rules for what we support and what we don't, yet there is very little leeway for me to make my own judgements and no way for me check each ambiguous case with my boss beforehand.


+This is covered in detail above with the two most egregious examples, but my boss often goes out of his way to solicit my input and insists that any disagreement will not reflect badly on me, and then later, it'll be clear that he viewed this as some sort of insubordination. I have no idea why he does this, I've told him many times that if he wants me to do something differently, he can just ask and I'll do my best to accommodate him regardless of my personal feelings, but he never takes me up on it.


+This is not related to me directly, but it's something that makes me uncomfortable. There's another employee in the IT department who no one likes and gets made fun of and gossiped about a lot, including by my boss. Now, I'll grant that he is pretty annoying, but it still strikes me as very unprofessional and mean-spirited that this guy is the butt of everyone's jokes. He's not the only one either, my boss and the other people I work with have a tendency to complain about how annoying or stupid either other corporate employees or our callers are behind their back. Since I'm sure that my boss doesn't care for me much and perhaps some other employees may feel the same as well, I can't help but worry that I'm receiving the same treatment when I'm not around. I don't have any evidence of this, but the possibility makes me uncomfortable, and it's a generally unpleasant environment with so many other people getting picked on, anyway. It's especially bizarre when you consider that we work with and near phones, so there's always a possibility that someone could accidentally overhear something they're not supposed to.




This isn't everything I have against my boss, just a few of the biggest examples. I've spoken to him about most of these, and it's either not improved anything or made things worse. I've spoken to his boss about it and have even had meetings with the both of them, and it hasn't fixed anything. I've tried improving my performance on his terms, and haven't gotten anywhere because my accomplishments are either unnoticed or I can't figure out what on earth my boss actually wants. It's gotten to the point when my overall work performance has suffered because I'm constantly nervous and in a bad mood. However, I can't quit and find another job because I'm certain he wouldn't give me a good reference, so how am I supposed to find another job? This job is the bulk of my career experience, so it's not like I have a ton of other references to go back on. I would also lose my health insurance instantly and not have any until finding another job somehow, and no guarantee I'd be able to see the same doctors with insurance from a different job.

Like, am I missing something? Do I actually just suck at my job and my boss is in the right? What on Earth am I supposed to do from here? Any polite feedback or constructive criticism is welcome.

Offline Maid Marion

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Re: Trouble with my boss
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2019, 09:53:22 pm »
If you want a new job it is best to find it while you are still employed.  Someone who is employed is far more desirable than someone who isn't.

The goal of tech support is for customers to go away happy.  Or, to just go away and not be angry at the experience when the problem is legitimately unsolvable.  Someone who can do that all the time can come in late.   ;D

Reviews are on a sliding scale.  Unless you are legitimately good at your job you can expect your boss to comment on whatever ticks him off most.  Most people aren't.

Our company just went through a huge turnover due to management change and an uptick in the local economy.  Lots of people change jobs these days.  When I last had my hair cut the barber didn't know anyone who had been employed for more than 15 years.

Offline Allie Jayne

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Re: Trouble with my boss
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2019, 10:36:13 pm »
Lucca, list everything down and send it to HR. If you are being harassed by your boss, they can do something about it. If you aren't meeting expectations, you will hear it from a different source and have the option to try to improve or find a new job.

Allie

Offline Lucca

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Re: Trouble with my boss
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 07:46:06 am »
How do I find a new job the way things are now? I can't use anyone at my current job as a reference without telling them I intend to quit first, obviously, and I don't think that's going to make them more likely to give me a good reference. If I apply for jobs but say they can't contact my current employer, it will look suspicious. I would also have trouble finding time to go for interviews while still working.

Quitting without having a new job lined up is financially inadvisable, obviously, but I don't see how I could search for jobs without my current employer finding out otherwise. And I still don't know how to explain that I can't use my current job as a reference because no one likes me there.

I could try HR, but I don't see how that would ultimately work in my favor. Best case scenario, I get to keep my job long-term but my bosses resent me.

Offline Lexxi

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Re: Trouble with my boss
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 08:50:00 am »
If your boss truly doesn't like you I'm sure he'd give you a glowing recommendation just to get you out of his hair. Plus legally there's not a whole lot of bad things he can say about you. He's only supposed to tell possible employers the most basic things about your job production. He's not allowed to go too in depth with any criticisms. In other words he shouldn't be keeping you from gainful employment.
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Offline Lucca

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Re: Trouble with my boss
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2019, 09:50:37 am »
Maybe I should just be straight with him that I want to find a new job, then. I live in the U.S, I didn't think there were many restrictions on what an employer could say about you? Maybe I'm overestimating how much he wouldn't be willing to give me a decent reference, anyway.

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