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I would really appreciate an objective point of view. I have worked for the same small business for over a decade. I like the work, I like the customers, I feel challenged, and my hours suit me. The business itself is doing fine.

However, all of the staff are under immense strain, and I am now wondering if this is a challenge I can rise to, or if I’m on a sinking ship.

If I use today as an example: Of the four other members of the team who were in today, I had all four complaining to me. One was nearly in tears over being asked to make someone a cup to tea. The other three were annoyed at each other for various reasons. I also had my manager complaining to me that she is under immense strain (which is true) and that the boss will be aggressive to her when she tries to take a day off (which he does). However I’m also aware that crucial things the boss asked her to do, like advertising for a new team member, and training the current ‘new employee’ who is no longer technically new, have both been completely ignored.

I also had my boss complaining that certain work wasn’t done this morning. However, we are short staffed, as he is well aware, and we also had a staff member on annual leave, which makes big impact on a small team.

Is this normal working life? Is there a way I can manage all these personalities bumping heads? I want to stay in my job but it seems increasingly intolerable. It’s also worth mentioning that my boss blew up at me last week in front of his partner. The partner actually tried to get him to calm down. There was no substance to his complaint. I stayed very calm and later he cane out and tried to hug me and apologize. I think he’s very good at his work but very immature and lacking people skills. With him at the head, is there any chance I can still make this job work for me? My colleagues and my manager are all pleasant people outside of this strain.

A quick edit as requested: my question is whether you think there’s any recommendations for how I could galvanize the team or create some kind of plan to ‘handle’ my boss or manager... or whether it’s hopeless. The business is genuinely doing well, but the staff are exhausted and increasingly unhappy.

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    "The business itself is doing fine." You sure about that? – Mixxiphoid Mar 12 '18 at 14:51
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This is one of the ways bad leadership falls apart.

There's an old saying pilots have, "Don't forget to fly the plane." That is, when you're having a crisis, don't get so focused on the crisis that you forget to maintain the other critical operations. Recruiting and training are the things that are getting forgotten.

This is the "other side of the coin" from Groupthink. The high-level boss is attacking everyone because some specific task isn't getting done. Oh, he may only be "going after" one person at a time, but the net result is that everyone is feeling attacked. After a while of this, a form of PTSD sets in, and ... well ... people fall apart over a cup of tea.

It's bleeding off over everything and everyone else, too. Any professional teacher will tell you that it's almost impossible to teach or learn when the student is emotionally stressed. That's why the "New girl" isn't up to speed, yet.

The real question is this: Is the situation likely to change? The "Blow-up Boss" has to completely change his tune. Possible, but not likely. Your manager may be a lost cause, sorry to say. She probably needs at least a month off in order to "reset," and even that may not be enough, depending on how long this has been going on.

Do you see any of that happening in the near future? Does the other partner appear prepared to step in and change things, or is he just a "silent partner" that comes in from time to time to check on his investment?

Where do you see this situation being in 6 months? Can you be happy in that situation? If not, then realize you can't fix it, and plan accordingly.

  • There seems to be some sort of denial about the state of the leadership - I can't explain the down-votes otherwise. +1 for pointing out that the leadership is sorely lacking, and just unlikely it is for the situation to be salvageable. – AndreiROM Mar 12 '18 at 16:12
  • I have a stalker. I used to have two, and I have a lot of answers that are "+135/-2." I think one of them lost their account, recently. That's the downvote. Thanks for the upvote, though (assuming it was you, @AndreiROM) – Wesley Long Mar 12 '18 at 16:17
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Sounds to me like someone is dearly failing in building a good work environment, and generally ignoring their responsibilities as a leader.

If the manager is "stressed", yet ignoring key duties and responsibilities, then she's probably not the person for the job, and should be let go. If some team members are not performing well, or causing grief within the team, then either they need stronger leadership, who can keep things in check, or some of them need to be let go, and more capable/mature people brought on board.

A strong leader understands these things, and will step up to propose and implement these changes even if the people themselves are "pleasant". At the end of the day that's not enough to run a business.

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