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I am in need of some perspective.

Background

My boss and I have a good relationship overall. She has told me several times that she is very good at reading people and situations. Several people have left the department because of her, which is especially funny because she has told me she left the department previously because of how her supervisor treated her. She told us from the beginning that she is clear in her communication and expectations for our dept.

Situations

  1. During an in-office meeting, in front of four others, she ripped into me twice. She never actually screamed at me, but was more than disrespectful in both tone and language. She told me that I needed to go work for someone else if I want someone who is going to tell me what to do. This was when I asked one of the other people in the meeting to show me an example of a scenario because I wasn't following what she was saying. Then she laughed, turned to someone else in the meeting and said ' I made her so mad'.

  2. During a presentation I was giving on a conference call, she aggressively interrupted me two sentences into it, told me it wasn't what she was looking for at all, and continued to rip into me. There were four other people on the call.

  3. I am charge of a weekly report that I email to her and three other members of management. She replied 'all' to my email, asked a question, and didn't direct it to anyone specifically, so I answered it. She then called me and, in a condescending tone that I have never experienced in the workplace said, 'I need you to do something for me, ok? When I send an email, I need you to think about what I'm asking, why I'm asking it, and most importantly, who I am asking it to, can you do that for me?'

She also has said to me specifically and during department meetings how important it is for everyone to own what they do, good and bad, and make it right when we make a mistake. Yet, she has never owned her behavior.

So, my question is, it is reasonable to expect her not to give me feedback in front of others, to speak to me in a professional and respectful tone, and for her to be clear in her communication and not make anyone have to guess why she is asking something and read her mind?

closed as unclear what you're asking by gnat, Jim G., scaaahu, IDrinkandIKnowThings, thursdaysgeek Dec 27 '18 at 22:24

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  • where are you located? is there HR? what is your function? what is her function? which industry are you in? What is the usual tone in the company (should not excuse some behaviour, but can shed a light on it if it makes sens to go to her boss). – Sascha Dec 26 '18 at 12:24
  • Management overall treats us with respect, it's just her. She told me someone filed a complaint with HR (it wasn't me) but nothing ever came of it. I'm pretty much stuck until I can move out of the department. Thank you for taking the time to reply! – Ann Dec 27 '18 at 0:12
  • It's not usually HR's job to investigate manager issues unless someone is breaking the law, engaging in harassment, or violating company policy. Unfortunately, "My manager is a jerk" likely does not qualify. – selbie Dec 27 '18 at 19:17
  • Do you have opportunities to give feedback to your manager's manager that would be listened to? If so, tread carefully and keep a modest tone. "Bob, I enjoy working for Alice, but sometimes she gets visibly stressed when she hears an answer that doesn't meet her expectations. I'd rather her give better feedback so I can improve." You would have to gauge beforehand if Bob would simply give this feedback verbatim back to Alice (which would only make it worse). Or would he anonymize it and aggregate it to her with similar feedback he's heard from others on your team? – selbie Dec 27 '18 at 19:19
7

Your expectations are entirely reasonable.

Alas, that observation is unlikely to change the behavior of your boss.

  • Thank you, meriton. At some point, I am going to have to have a conversation with her, which will end with her taking zero responsibility. – Ann Dec 26 '18 at 11:28
5

You are focusing on her behavior, and she is asking you for something. I'm not sure if her behavior is justified or not, but that leaves the entire thing being asked for unmentioned.

  1. In the meeting where she was disrespectful, she gave you a clear message. "You need to find solutions yourself" You should no longer ask her for assistance in how to approach something.

  2. In the conference call, she gave you a clear message. "This is the wrong deliverable." You should halt the presentation, and clarify what she wanted delivered, and only if your presentation contains some of that, resume the presentation at the point where it illustrates what was asked. Otherwise you need to illustrate how the original ask was misunderstood, and what can be done to satisfy the need of the original ask.

  3. In the email, you need to proofread what you wrote to make sure it clearly addresses what was asked, without too much background or interesting to know additional information.

Her tone is an issue, but her tone is an indicator that she is frustrated by not getting what she desires. Yes, it is a bit childish for a person to take a poor tone when not getting what they want, but very few people learn the art of separating their tone from their message to get the message across more clearly.

Please don't take my points as acknowledgement that she's using good communication techniques with you. Just consider them a field guide for how to address her issues, and odds are that in doing them you'll avoid a few of her outbursts (but sadly, you probably won't avoid all of them).

My point is, despite her interactions with you, attempt to give her what she wants, and see if things improve. If they don't improve, I suggest moving on. There's an old adage in business

People join a company, and quit a boss.

If this boss cannot be satisfied (and some cannot) then I'd consider moving on.

  • Thanks, Edwin. I have zero problem with receiving feedback, however, it is not appropriate to do it in front of others. Regarding #1, I didn't ask for her assistance, I asked the person who was speaking to show an example. What is hilarious is, a week later she got on to everyone for not seeking eax – Ann Dec 27 '18 at 0:03
  • Sorry, phone went nuts and sent that before I was done. – Ann Dec 27 '18 at 0:04
  • 1
    What is hilarious is, a week later, she got on to us for not seeking out each other's help. We just sat there in stunned silence. Regarding #3, I emailed a report, no commentary needed. She replied to all and asked a question. She was furious because I replied with an answer. She expected me to read her mind and know she wasn't asking me, even though she replied to my email and didn't address anyone specifically. The core issue for me is, she talks all the time about how great of a communicator she is, tries to mentor me, etc, yet behaves like a child . I appreciate your response. – Ann Dec 27 '18 at 0:09
  • @Ann Ah, mind reading. I'd stop talking until asked to help. Otherwise, you will only become a target. There may be no winning her over, as she is obviously asking the questions for effect, and not a speedy answer. It's like a teacher ignoring the one person in the class with the answer, hoping to get someone else into the spotlight. Your answers, even the right answers, have no value. – Edwin Buck Dec 27 '18 at 5:53

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