Previously happy work environment has started to show signs of toxicity. I loved my job until recent weeks. Is it time to look to getting out now or can this be salvaged?
posted by houndsoflove to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 25 and have been at my current office job for two years. Up until a few months ago, I absolutely loved it: I learned a lot of new skills, got along well with everyone, turned many co-workers into friends I see outside of work too, got three promotions, and have always been told by my bosses and outside customers that I am a pleasure to work with.
One of my main responsibilities was to help this woman, let's call her "M," with her job. In November of last year, M received a promotion to a new position. She is now a supervisor of some people in our department, but she is not a supervisor of me. I was asked by the highest ups to take on all of her responsibilities, with no additional pay, in addition to my job. M knew her promotion was coming, because she asked for it. She also knew that I was worried that I would get saddled with her whole job, and knew that I was stressed out by the possibility of it. The day M was told about this promotion, her attitude toward me changed. She immediately dumped all of her work on me without waiting for our department supervisor (I'll call her "K") to bring it to me. "Per K, this is not my job anymore," M said as she handed it over. She also started forwarding me emails about work that she had done that would have taken her five seconds to answer [basic "did you do ____?" questions], but which I had to now comb through her work to find the answer to.
So it's not her job anymore. And she's not my supervisor. But that hasn't stopped M from occasionally monitoring my inbox and telling me that I "really should get [x task] done now, since it's due soon," going so far as to take said work and plop it down right in front of me. (Note: I have never had problems with prioritizing or turning work in late.) I have also asked her for help with some of these "immediate tasks," because in her new position she has considerably less work than she had before and I have way more, and she has only ever said, "Well that's not my job anymore and I'm busy, so I'll see if I can get to it." This wouldn't bother me if she didn't religiously spend her first hour and last half hour of every day talking and bullshitting with people around the office instead of being at her desk working.
Problem Two: M is really tight with our department supervisor, K. They spend at least an hour every day in K's office talking, which the people who work outside K's office have confirmed is gossip about the other people in our department. This is super unprofessional I know, but when the things people are saying about me have no effect on my work performance I couldn't care less. It also didn't matter to me because I knew K liked me and saw that I work hard for her.
Well. A few days ago, I went down to a co-worker's desk to pick up some work. We got in a brief conversation (5 mins or less) about some plans that we had made outside of work, and then I talked to her for a further 5 minutes about a work-related matter. After we were done, K called me into her office. She told me, in no uncertain words, that she "never wants to catch [me] standing around talking like that again." I tried to be assertive and told her that a good part of the conversation was work related. She said she "didn't care," that she "saw me wasting time," and that if she saw me doing it again her whole idea of me as a hard worker would probably change.
I am open to criticism about my performance. However, this one bugs because 1.) I am rarely up from my desk all day, 2.) I get all of my work done even though my workload is enormous, and most of all: 3.) I have had way longer personal conversations than the one K "caught" me in, with her, started by her. M always has long personal chats with K, as I've said. And on the same day K disciplined me, one of my co-workers told me that he and K had "just had a long talk" about local sports teams. I mean, really?
I am so frustrated by the hypocrisy of this, and by M, that I am actually thinking about leaving this job. It's the best paid job I've ever had by far, even without a salary increase for doing two jobs. The highest up (who is senior to both K and M) just called me into her office two weeks ago to praise my performance, telling me that she thinks of me as one of the people "who come in here and give 100% every day" and that she is very thankful to me for the work that I do. But I know that she has known K for far longer than I have and have been told by other co-workers that it would bite me in the ass to go to her with complaints about K, my supervisor, and M, who is technically now another supervisor in my department. (M is also a great suckup and very good at hiding her behavior.)
So, those of you who are less green in dealing with office politics, what would you do in my situation? Would you look to give up this good thing because it's started to sour or would you do something about it? I have been in toxic job situations before where being assertive about any problems with the way the business was run was actively frowned upon, but none of those were as otherwise ideal as this one.