Dear Roze:

I have the worst boss. She makes me feel like a total failure. I can’t do anything right by her. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you she questions or criticizes everything I do. Our department of just five has weekly staff meetings so we will know what everyone else is doing. These meetings are very demeaning for me. I’ve been working for her for 18 months, and for the past year, she’s required me to take notes on everything everyone says in these meetings and the reason behind what they’ve said, because she thinks I don’t understand a lot of what is discussed. And that’s not all I have to do. I then have to have a one-on-one with her to go over all my notes. And without fail, she never has anything positive to say and always finds something to correct. She’s not trying to help me; she just likes putting me down and pointing out my mistakes and lack of understanding. As you have probably figured out, I absolutely dread going to work.

Did I mention I’m in my late 40s? This is not my first rodeo, but I get no credit for any of my experience or accomplishments. I must also point out that my boss is highly thought of by her management because she makes them money and that’s all they care about. My job is administrative. Regardless, I think my boss would love for me to transfer out or quit. I’ve been trying to find another job inside and outside our organization, but I’ve had no luck. As much as I’d like to have a civil discussion with her about all of this, my gut tells me there’s no way it would go well. What do you think about all this?

Feeling like a total failure

Dear Feeling like a total failure:

First and foremost, I hate that you feel like a failure. Second, your situation is very complicated as most boss/employee conflicts are. Based on what you have shared, it is difficult to say with certainty why your relationship with your boss is in the shape that it is in. I can look at it as a personality conflict between the two of you, or I can see it as a performance issue for you.

Looking at it from either perspective, I suggest you first look in the mirror and do some self-analysis to determine what you may or may not be doing to contribute to this situation. Knowing you are going to work on what your self-reflection may have uncovered, then you can proceed to have a respectful, nonemotional one-on-one with your boss.

The key is to go into the meeting with the goal of finding out what your boss thinks you can do to make things better. You do not want to put her on the defensive, which you can help by letting her know what your introspection helped you discover about yourself. If she is a decent, mature person, she will also look in the mirror and see some changes she can make with her behavior and/or she will realize she needs to provide more clarity and direction regarding her expectations of your performance.

Whether or not this meeting goes well, memorialize it factually, without editorial comment. Be sure your document is a record of the conversation and all the points that were covered. And if things stay the same or deteriorate even more, then by all means, continue to look for other employment.

I wish you the very best.

Workplace Woes – Roze Knows®

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