But what if your job is not all that you hoped it would be? What if you get stuck with a bad boss? The difficult reality is that many believe and assume that how they are treated in the workplace is beyond their control. Most are told they are “lucky to have a job,” and no one wants to risk losing their job. But there is a fine line between having a boss that is firm and a boss that becomes a bully.
I have had more than one encounter with an unhealthy work environment. It is important to note that the problems employees face depend on the nature of their work, but there are some characteristics of a boss that can make any job miserable.
One problem I have encountered is poor communication within management itself. During job training, I was given different instructions by two managers, causing them to become irritated when it appeared that I couldn’t follow directions. I quickly decided it was not the job for me. When the management cannot cooperate, it creates a hostile and uncomfortable environment for employees.
Along these same lines, poor communication between boss and employee is bound to lead to difficulties. It’s the responsibility of the employer to give clear instruction to their workers. If they aren’t consistently told what their hours are, it’s difficult to hold them accountable for being late or absent. Employees shouldn’t be scrutinized for the quality of their work if they aren’t given proper training. Procedures and responsibilities need to be made crystal clear.
I’ve also found that in many cases, employees don’t have a comfortable means of communication with their boss. Some people are more approachable than others, and a boss can be extremely intimidating. This can be solved with something as elementary as a suggestions box or one-on-one meetings between staff.
A key sign of a bully boss is one who isolates their workers. Obviously, the nature of the job is called into question here. Certain jobs consist of solitary environments, but others have room for more interaction between workers. It’s my opinion that if the work still gets done efficiently, and customers are assisted in a timely and professional manner, then there is no reason why workers shouldn’t be allowed to chat.
I worked a retail job where I got along well with my coworkers. My supervisors caught onto this friendship and although it didn’t impede our work performance, they began finding ways to separate us, and it started minor and reasonable, asking us to do separate tasks.It quickly escalated into a very passive aggressive situation. Our work was micromanaged in order to keep us from talking, and we were finally given a notice via email that if we could not stay focused on working instead of chit-chatting, one of us would be asked to leave work early, or our hours would be cut.
This was very hurtful considering that we were hard workers and always got our tasks done even while making small talk. In fact, we often helped each other to get things done faster. Instead of being thanked for our hard work, we felt punished and unappreciated. Even more frustrating was the fact that in this particular job the environment was supposed to be friendly and casual. Instead, less than enthusiastic cashiers were greeting the customers.
Perhaps one of the most alarming red flags I’ve ever seen in a work place is multiple people quitting the job at the same time, or a high rate of employee turnover. Businesses that always seem to have their “Now Hiring” sign out seem like dysfunctional work places. I had one job that was so stressful, I quit at the same time as several other equally frustrated employees. If discussion in the workplace consists almost entirely of complaints and talk of quitting, then it’s time to find a new job.
The bottom line is this: if your job is persistently causing you noticeable stress and anxiety outside of the workplace and affecting your happiness, it’s time to get out. You can’t expect work to be all fun and games, but your boss can’t treat you as less than a person.
The most important thing to remember in an employee-to-employer relationship is respect. It is obviously important for an employee to be respectful of those above them. But it is also important to keep in mind that an effective boss is respectful and courteous to their employees.