We work in a small environment, (2 offices, no more than 10 employees). Our old boss was recently promoted, and a new guy has been brought in to replace him.

I am asking on behalf of my female coworker. Her position is the Document Controller, and she has quite a bit of responsibility in the workplace; talking to clients in regards to job requirements, keeping them informed of job progress, transmittals, and (of course) document management.

Under the old boss, she often argued (constructively - there wasn't any hatred between them) with him, discussing different options about workflow etc. He didn't always agree with her, and would often go his own way anyway, but he always listened to her opinions. He was also a very strong believer in the "team dynamic"; where she played the "discipline" role, making sure that everyone else had done their jobs right, making sure that everything flowed as it should, following the workflows etc.

Now, under the new boss, she seems to be little more than the errand girl. The new boss often asks her to do things, and she would voice her opinion (as she did with our old boss), and he would go over her head (that is, ask someone else - his manager, or someone else in charge of a job) to get confirmation. He would ask her to do things, and expect it to be done, no please's or thankyou's, regardless of her concerns. She has also had some sensitive health issues, and was forced to confront him about it, regardless of the fact that those issues were very private, just so that she could avoid getting herself into situations that would put her at further risk.

She has recently voiced her opinion (rather unexpectedly) to me about wanting to quit because of it, even though she says that she loves her job.

As she is the only female employee that he deals with on a regular basis, we aren't entirely sure if this is just his lack of understanding about her responsibilities, or if there are other issues.

How should we approach this, in an attempt to make everyone understand the situation?

  • 3
    Do you still have any access to your former manager? – Patricia Shanahan Aug 29 '16 at 3:24
  • @PatriciaShanahan yes. – Ben Aug 29 '16 at 4:01
  • 2
    That might be a good person to ask for advice. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 29 '16 at 4:10
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    So your coworker vents to you and you vent here on her behalf? And you feel the need to insert vague hints at discrimination with zero basis for them? A new manager came in and he apparently sees this "Document Controller" as more of an administrative role. That could be entirely reasonable and you don't even say what you want to do about it (and hint: this isn't any of your business). And I can't even wrap my head around the fact that she had to volunteer medical info to avoid possible issues at work, is the new manager supposed to be psychic then? Vote to close. – Lilienthal Aug 29 '16 at 10:46
  • @JoeStrazzere Yes, if old boss is now in the direct chain above new boss the contact is less useful – Patricia Shanahan Aug 29 '16 at 13:26

How should we approach this?

First off, you should stay out of it, it's not your business. Talk with your friend, but don't inject yourself into the issue. There's no "we" here.

She should have a discussion with her new boss. She should ask her boss to explain what he needs out of her in her role. She could explain in detail what she used to do, hoping that the new boss just didn't realize what she was capable of. But in the end, her boss will decide what her role is to be.

And if that doesn't fit with what she wants to do, she should find a new job first before quitting.

With a new boss, often there comes new expectations, and shifting roles - particularly in a small office. Nobody is guaranteed that what they used to do will be what they are expected to do forever.

If the new environment no longer fits her needs, then she needs to decide if she wants to adjust to the new role or not. And if not, she may need to move on to a new job.

  • Thanks for the response. Yes, I do realize that it is not my place to be involving myself in this directly, all I am trying to do is find some advice for how my colleague should handle this. – Ben Aug 30 '16 at 1:15

Any time you think about quitting give it 90 days.

  • In the first 30 cool off and comply
  • For the second 30 decide what you can live with and communicate that to your boss
    Don't present it as a demand - but this is what I would like
    Polish your resume and send out feelers
  • For the last 30 decide if your boss is willing to comply

It seems you firmly believe of the value she add to the team. Your implicit belief in treating everyone fairly and well speaks highly of you. Continue doing what you have been doing and show the rest of your team you believe in fairness, and an environment of open communication. Be the change you want to see.

The boss may not seem to believe in her abilities and also seems to have a different management style. As you are underneath him, your options are limited. In the long term, a manager that does not respect or listen to the team is ultimately bound to fail.

Try to have a private conversation with this coworker and simply reflect back what she says:

  1. That she wants to quit due to lack of open communication
  2. She feels she is not as respected / treated well as before.
  3. You still believe in her ability and her importance to the team
  4. Talk to her new manager about what she sees and how the changes are affecting her.

Even if others are behaving less than desired, you can still hold yourself to higher standards.

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