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seeking33

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I work in a small office part time with about 5 other employees. My supervisor seems to enjoy playing the favorites game among us and has totally humiliated me in front of other co-workers and customers.

It all started this summer, when we were trained to use a new computer system and hired a new person to work in the office. Yes, people made a few innocent errors learning the new system, and the new person naturally made mistakes as she learned the ropes. But for some reason, my boss has taken to using me as the office scapegoat--anything that goes wrong, she assumes I did it. I've been blamed and lectured for mistakes other people have made, especially the ones she considers her friends. When I explained to her that I wasn't even around when the mistake occurred, she still lectured me about it like I was a stupid little kid and blamed me.

Last week, the **** hit the fan. I don't consider myself a perfect worker and having witnessed other, more experienced people make mistakes, I believe that I make no more mistakes than anyone else. Last week, i made a small error in detail. The first thing the next morning, my boss called me and unleashed her anger on me, yelling at me for what i did. She told me i was to come in at once (an inconvenience on my day off when i had important plans) and call the customer I had dealt with the night before on the phone and explain to her the error... I told her that I could come in later because i had something to do that day and she said, "If you don't come in, I'll call them myself and tell them you made the mistake."

So, I ended up coming in, and she shoved a piece of paper with a phone number on it in my face, and yelled at me in front of everyone within hearing distance. At this point I felt pretty low, but called the party concerned and left a message. After that, I left, and trying to save face and to show it hadn't affected me, I smiled myself out the door.

I guess that wasn't good enough for her and she wasn't done with me yet. The next day I came in to work, and she confronted me as soon as I set foot in the office. She said, "___party said they'd come in and rectify the error. But I want you to get on the phone, call them again, give them your name and tell them you were the one who waited on them and you were the one who made the mistake." I was blown away by this. Have you ever recieved a call from a company saying, "Hi, this is so-and-so, I screwed up?" Once again, she said this in front of all co-workers to hear.
I asked her when i should call, and she said, "I don't care. Sometime today." So i waited until she left a few minutes later, then called again, saying that yes, an error had been made, but I didn't specify what and by whom. The customer on the line got aggravated and said she had promised to come in, she was tired of having my workplace calling her, and hung up on me. Apparently, my boss had called this customer earlier, so there was no real reason for my needing to call again, except to make an idiot out of me.

Basically, I'm at the point where my self-esteem and confidence in myself as a worker has eroded to where i don't trust myself to to a good job anymore. I feel like a stupid idiot when i'm at work, like I don't know what I'm doing. I'm always so afraid of screwing something up that i have a hard time concentrating on my work, which inevitably leads to an error being made or a detail overlooked, which brings my boss down on my head, which starts the cycle all over again. I've done as much as i could to improve, I've only worked there one year part- time with few hours and i don't have as much experience as most of the others yet. But when I approach my boss with questions, or if I ask for feedback on my performance, she answers me with what's becoming her standard answer-- "I don't know." Earlier this spring, i asked her how my performance was doing and what i could improve upon, and she said, "Oh I don't know. I haven't worked with you that long." I ran smack into a brick wall. I still feel like i'm runing into a brick wall without her communication. She's my BOSS! What does she mean she doesn't know? She knows enough to blame and humiliate me, but she's at a loss when i want to communicate with her.

How can I get through to her?
 

ThatLady

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Some people make lousy leaders, and it sounds like you've found one of them. There's no excuse for correcting an employee in front of other employees. There's no excuse for demeaning an employee anywhere, anytime. There's no excuse for answering an employee's legitimate question with: "I don't know." The correct answer is: "Let's find out." Driving a customer nuts with repeated calls (as you describe) is just beyond the pale.

Trouble is, you probably can't get through to her. It doesn't sound to me like this is a person who will listen. This is a person who's going to accuse and refuse to hear anything other than her own words. If I were you, I'd start looking for another position.
 

David Baxter

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Alternatively, have you thought about filing a workplace harassment grievance?
 

seeking33

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David Baxter said:
Alternatively, have you thought about filing a workplace harassment grievance?

That sounds good--but to whom would i file it to? And what would i say?
 

David Baxter

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I'm not sure what part of the world you live in but I do know what you decribe would be grounds for such a grievance in Canada.

If you have a union, start there. If in Canada, write to or call the Human Rights Commission. If neither of these applies, think about talking to a lawyer or see if there is some sort of labor board or tribunal in your area.
 

Daniel

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I would agree that your boss doesn't seem like he's going to change for the better.
 

seeking33

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Another concern of mine happened when i was first interviewed. This is my very first job and I've had a few interviews at other places, but nothing like this...The director interviewed me and another person at the same time. What could be their reasoning behind interviewing 2 people at a time? So, I had to give my information out in front of one other girl, and she had to give her information out in front of me. I don't know if this happens in other workplace, relatives and friends i've spoken with say they never encountered this practice, and I feel that my privacy was compromised. but like i said, this is my first job, so i really don't know what to expect.

The director failed to mention a few important things about the job and what i'd be doing when I was interviewed, also. They failed to mention that the job was only seasonal (rec center) and at the end of each season, depending on staffing and budget needs, they could get rid of you, and you had to re-apply for reconsideration of employment each time. Another thing they failed to mention was that the hours are very unstable, as during slow times of the season, they cut back on people's hours. Not knowing any of this and not knowing enough to even ask, i accepted the position. Didn't I have the right to know about this coming into the job? Needless to say, when I found out last-minute about the re-applying process and the cut in hours, I was totally shocked! I never saw it coming.
 

Banned

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I would agree with looking for another position. Normally, I always encourage people to try and work things out with their leader/supervisor, but it sounds like that would be more of a frustrating experience than anything else. Leaders are supposed to work WITH you, not AGAINST you. I've heard of panel interviews where they have three or four people from the company interview one candidate, and I've heard of group interviews (we do them at both places where I work), but to have a personal one-on-one interview with another person in the room is just bizarre. Normally group interviews are very informal - it gives the interviewer a chance to see how you interact with others (are you a team player, what are your communication skills, do you contribute to conversations, etc), and then high-level candidates are contacted for a more personal interview.

If it's any consolation, I'm now working in my third rec centre. I coached gymnastics for three years and then worked in a general facility where I used to live, and now in Alberta I work in North America's second largest fitness facility. Having said all that - they've all been poorly run with horrible management. The problem with rec centres is they hire athletes (or former athletes) to be leaders. These people don't always have the business know-how or leadership skills. We get a new org chart about every three months. Good grief! I'm a project manager in my "real job" yet at my part time job at the gym, I'm treated like I've never had a job before and have no skills. It's downright frustrating. I have no idea why I stay - it's sure not for the money. I think I'm caught in the mindset of "they need me. They need my skills and expertise". Whatever....

Wow - what a rant. Anyway, I agree with the others. Look for another job. I bet you have a whole new skill set that will help you, and you now know what kinds of questions to ask at an interview. Often our worst jobs give us the best knowledge to build on. I know I've learned alot from horrible jobs.
 

seeking33

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Thanks to everyone for your insightful replies! I am most likely going to start hunting for another job. BG, i don't know if the director was a former athelete, but his management skills still are questionable. I think i'm done with working for this place. I got the new schedule today and my boss cut my hours back even further, granting more hours to a girl they hired 2 months ago, so i guess whatever seniority i have means little. Plus my boss went out of her way to avoid me today, as i'm sure she doesn't want to hear me complain about the hours issue...obviously this won't get much better. Well, I'm off to hunt for another job! Wish me luck!
 

drawrod

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It's great you've made the discision to find a new job as you deserve more respect than what you are getting, however, have you still thought about making a complaint to help other people who may end up in the same position as you? I also feel you may regret not making a complaint in the future- you could always let the company know of your experiences when you have found a new job and then hopefully have this creep of a boss shown up for what they are.
 

ThatLady

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Good luck in your job hunt, hon. I'm sure you can find a position where you will be given the respect any good employee earns and deserves. There's never a need to tolerate denigration in the workplace.
 

Retired

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Seeking 33!

Sometimes people manipulate their way into management positions by charming superiors who fail to see beyond the facade.

You may find some interesting insights in this discussion on Narcissism in the Workplace

It will be interesting to hear your views on the descriptions provided there and if these are consistent with your own situation.

Looking forward to your comments
 

SS8282

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Seeking, I've been through what you're going through. Here are some tips:

1) Document the incidences - what happened, who said what to whom, when, time, witnesses, and NEVER leave any documents where anyone from work can see them.

2) Don't tell anyone you're recording these incidences. The less other people know what you're doing, the more advantage you have.

2) Has anyone approached you to tell you what they think about your supervisor's treatment towards you? (witnesses)

3) Your supervisor may be creating a hostile environment, and she may be trying to get you to quit, so that the company will not be penalized at all. DON'T QUIT, unless you have a new job to go to.

4) As Dr. Baxter mentioned - file a grievance.

5) The way you're being treated is harrassment and abuse. Perhaps you can write a letter to your supervisor's manager (or higher up) and see if something will be done. Also, depending on where you are, some legal counsellors give the initial consultation for free.

6) Try to take care of yourself. The stress you're under is incredible. Do you have someone whom you can confide in? Make sure it's someone whom you can trust and not related to the company at all.

I hope things will get better for you. Good luck, and take care.
 

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