Requesting assistance with how to explain in interviews why I am leaving, how/who to ask for references, and maybe just a gauge on whether it really is toxic or not.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Background (you can probably skim/skip unless you like toxic workplace stories):
The job I am currently in, while fantastic, has a huge problem with an owner who is verbally/in writing abusive and aggressive and demoralizing. He is also the main sales guy and deals with clients all the time. I’ve been here 10 months and at least once a month, I get to hear him yell at someone who works for us, in full hearing of everyone else who works here. He has yelled at my direct supervisor as if he were a naughty child in front of a HUGE client. He has yelled at my direct supervisor IN FRONT OF ME in such a way that I could not leave the room because the was blocking the only way out.
Most recently, he had a stern discussion with me (he didn’t actually yell at me) about how “some people are doomed to customer service and retail work” because they don’t see “the vision” etc. I took a half day on Weds to go the doctor in the morning and the owner apparently never asked my supervisor where I was, owner just assumed I was sauntering in late because I felt like it. Then waited two days to have the above conversation with me. (He was going on and on about the sacrifices people make to work here.) When he was done, I just said ok, i have work to do and went back to work. He didn’t ask me why I wasn’t there on Weds at all. I figured out half way through the conversation that’s what he meant and said “I was the doctor in OtherTown on Weds. I let Supervisor know.” I am not in the habit of taking off half days or full days to go the doctor or vacation or whatever. When I’m sick, I work from home.
This is a small office, 5 including the owner. I’ve talked to the guy who’s been here the longest about ways I can be more effective in communicating with the owner many time. His advice always involves walking on egg shells around the owner. He has said to me many times he doesn’t understand why the owner manhandles the people the business needs the most, my supervisor and me.
In the past few months, on top of overbooking us for projects like he has done since before I started (promising deadlines that are based on my supervisor and I each working 40 hours per week on a single project which NEVER happens because of customer support and well, double/triple booking projects), he has decided we needed a huge internal documentation project to use as a training guide for new customers.
All of us have tried very hard, but it’s hard to add yet another project to a list of projects that we already behind on. After a belligerent email to ALL of us (where he asked if he needed to follow us around like children or if we needed to come in on saturdays, when most of us spend a few hours each weekend working anyway) in which he was upset we weren’t working enough on this project, I asked for some guidance (in writing, cc’d my supervisor) on how much time I should be spending on client work vs this documentation project. He told me that it was my job to get it all done and to figure it out. My supervisor hasn’t been much help because he wants me to get client work done. Rock/hard place.
My supervisor and I have tried to have planning meetings about things but we are sooooo busy that we honestly don’t have time. My boss works 10-12 hours days all the time. I just can’t. I get burned out. I’ve done it at times to get a project out the door, but repeatedly - I just can’t. I do get my work email on my phone and on evenings and weekends, I promptly respond to any customer problems, even if it’s just an email to say I’ll look into as I soon as I get back to my computer that evening. (which i do because i care about my work and my clients.)
My supervisor has said several times since I started that he wants to spend more time with me to plan and go over projects, get me trained more, but he never has the time because HE is so behind. The owner forced us to stop working on client projects for a week while we worked on the documentation thing so then we were even further behind on the client work. (the owner didn't relay to this customers during his check-in calls with them, he just acted like everything was a-ok apparently.)
Yesterday the owner sent an email to my supervisor and me that he didn’t like the one thing I was doing on the documentation project and “But beyond that, this is a job requirement. If you aren't able to complete it, then I need to know that immediately and definitively so that I can make other arrangements.” I realize that sounds kinds sane, but trust me, it's not. (oh and i’m on the east coast so this was during a HURRICANE, thanks dude.) My supervisor hasn't been doing much on this documentation project either.
I don’t know what other arrangements means because we don’t have anyone else working here and can’t get anyone to work here because we have no benefits, no paid vacation days, no paid sick leave. You can take off when you need to, but it’s kind of understood you’ll just make it up. 40 hours a week is not considered the norm. More is.
So I took that as a veiled threat of being fired. My supervisor feels badly and says “i know we need to do something different, because this isn't working smoothly, and it isn't your fault. “ And again said he wants to spend more time with me to plan etc which is never going to happen. Because that is just another project he does not have time for. My supervisor and the other guy who's been here the longest says I am the first person to do what I do (and what my supervisor) does that didn't completely fuck it up all the time (other than my supervisor, obviously). So I don't need total hand-holding but I do need help on many complex things I have not encountered previously and that means more than 15 minutes here and there at random ass times between phone calls and client meetings.
This is has been the company culture since before I started working here. My supervisor and the other guy who’s been here for years say that’s why it’s hard to keep anyone. No one wants to put up with the owner’s bullshit. I spent a long time thinking it was me and have tried very hard to be a good employee. But I’m starting to think this is ridiculous in such a way that I want to leave.
I have a found a job I want to apply for that I would be a great fit for.
Q0 - I know there's always another side to the story, but I hope I'm not overreacting here. Also, our former sales left to work elsewhere and says he keeps being asked by people in our industry in the town here "so...what's it like working with Owner?". and not in a good way.
Q1 - So, how do I address this in job interviews? I was laid off from my first real professional job so I don't know how this works. Gleaning form other questions on askme, I still have these questions...
- It wasn’t a fit for me as I am looking for room to grow. (How do I say that there just aren’t other positions? I mean my supervisor does EVERYTHING, meeting with clients, project work, billing, and support. I do all but billing but I’m learning that too.)
- I am looking for a company to stay with for a while. (My first job out of college was in 2008,I was laid off in 2010, went back to school for a year, and then got this job. It’s not a great history, but I’m not a job hopper.)
- I really like the business analyst aspect of my job and working for your company will give the me opportunity to focus on that, which is an area I’ve found I excel in. $OLDJOB gave me a lot of experience in meeting with a diverse group of clients and understanding and extracting their business needs. I don’t exactly have requirements documents or anything like that because that’s not part of how we work. So I don’t know what I could do except explain verbally what I’ve done. Which leads to...
Q2 - References - Can I ask a couple customers to be a reference for me? They would be able to say that I had helped them with nailing down their business needs and requirements and effectively communicating that into an application and how awesome I am etc. My direct supervisor knows I’ve been looking, he has too. He wouldn’t tell the owner I was looking on pain of death, he hates the owner. So my supervisor will give me a reference as will the former sales guy who was offered a job by one of our almost-clients.
BONUS: I am salaried. I get paid 1st and 15th thru direct deposit. If I get another job, how do I let this job know I do? When sales guy gave his two weeks, Owner threw a fit, told him not to come back and changed the password on his work email in like 5 seconds. I do not know how to prepare for this. I've been forwarding the emails I need and not keeping personal things on the computer. After this posting, I will be removing all the personal stuff from the chrome browser and using it in Incognito mode exclusively. I would like to finish up the two current projects I am working on, but it will definitely be at least two months til they are both complete. I just want to make sure I get paid.