Dear Career Doctor:
I have a new manager who treats me like a child. I was moved from a management position at a plant that was closed to this new position where I am no longer in a management role. Although I resent this, I am trying very hard to maintain a positive attitude and do my very best, since I was not given a pay decrease.
My new manager goes out of his way to make comments like, “Why are you a trouble maker?” when I ask serious questions. He has chastised me for the clothes that I wear even though they are within the guidelines of the dress code. When I first started the position I was taking 1 hour lunches. He took me aside and said, “Are the new hours not working out?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. He then said, “You’re taking long lunches. Why?” I said that I thought I had an hour for lunch. He said no, 1/2 hour only. This was not explained to me.
I do not have a problem with criticism. I have a problem with being scolded like a schoolgirl. I am also concerned because I have heard him make off color comments about other races and women – so I feel that there is no respect for my abilities.
Human Resources told me to “work it out with him” myself. When I try to discuss these things he cuts me off in mid-sentence and it is like a pissing match. (Excuse my language. Don’t know how else to explain it.)
Do you think that I should go to his boss? I don’t want to be labeled a “trouble maker.” But I don’t think I can take this. I love my job and what I do, so I am not inclined to quit at this time. (But I have begun looking.)
Your boss sounds like a jerk who is probably intimidated by having a former manager work under him. BUT you say you like your job, so rather than complain (although his potty mouth deserves complaint) I would go out of my way to let him know you have listened to his complaints and are trying to comply with his requests. Here’s why:
There was a surprise finding from a study that compared managers who made it to the top versus those whose careers became permanently derailed: the difference was NOT that one group had setbacks while the other didn’t. In fact, the successful managers had as many setbacks as the unsuccessful group. The difference lay in how they managed their problems. Successful managers accepted criticism and were non-defensive about changing their behavior as requested by higher-ups. Managers that became permanently derailed were defensive and fought the feedback.
So, I would tell the new boss that your goal is to make him happy so that you can eventually, with his help, regain a management position. Let him know you will dress the way he wants, eat for just a half hour, and try to comply with any other critique he has. This may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but since HR said to work it out with him, going to his boss will probably not succeed. If you find he is just too offensive to work for, collect your salary while looking for another job.