New job issues - should I stay and work things out or cut and run?
February 15, 2014 7:42 AM Subscribe
I started a new job last year and it's becoming clear that things are not going as planned. I'm dealing with a micro managing boss and I am at my wits end. Please help me decide if I should stay and work things out, or start job hunting for something better - wall of text inside.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
After grad school I got a job that I ended up staying at for a long time - almost six years. While it was a good place to start my career it wasn't the best place to grow. I'm in my mid thirties now and I wanted to take the next step up. Things got stagnant and the money just wasn't there, so I found another job back in October last year. There is a lot more money at this new job, but it seems like there are more problems too.
So now I'm at this new job only a short while and I feel like things are slowly falling apart. This place has lots of new rules and specific ways of operating, so for the first few months I was working hard to acclimate myself. In my mind I thought things were going fine - I brought some ideas and experience with me and was ready for the challenge. My goal was that I wanted to grow more as an employee, to start managing projects and taking on more responsibility. Yet I've hit some roadblocks since starting - I had a 3 month performance review a few weeks ago which didn't go so well. Minor mistakes were highlighted extensively and I got the feeling that the necessary boss/employee trust just isn't there. When they asked for my input I wanted to bring up how I feel micromanaged but I didn't know how to phrase it without coming off negatively, so nothing was said there on my end which I regret now. (I need to learn to communicate things that aren't working for me in a positive way.) Part of the review that I found contradictory was when they told me "take initiative to step up and manage projects" which I find difficult to do given my every movement is so controlled. They also told me a past employee over billed a project by "going off the rails" in her own direction of what she thought the project needed, which is their reason for why they are so restrictive about what we can and cannot work on. They said of course they recognize that I am not this person, but hearing that it all suddenly made sense. At the end of the performance review I was given an extension of sorts with another 3 month review coming up in April but I was told I was hired with intent to have me managing projects, not being support staff. If I can't step up I will be let go. This is hardly where I imagined myself after leaving the comfort of my old job :(
The major difference from my old job and this new place is at the old job I was salaried and projects were billed on a percentage of project cost. At this new job we are paid hourly and they only bill projects on an hourly basis - so every half hour and movement is tracked like a hawk. I'm literally being watched from behind here, it's an open office layout and our computer monitors are visible to all and people can and do listen in on your phone conversations. There is no surfing the internet except at lunch, no spending time designing something beyond what we are explicitly told to do. (I work in a creative field so this is especially hard.) I get scolded on a regular basis by one overly controlling boss while the other boss is only in the office once or twice a week, so he doesn't know what's going on and really isn't involved in the day to day running of things. This monitoring and nitpicking is slowly wearing me down to the point that I was almost crying at my desk today. I don't mind any of the other employees here - I actually quite like them and work well with them, including the absentee other boss. It's a small company with less than 10 people, and no HR department.
A lot of the issues that come up with this controlling boss have to do with how I do things one way and he wants it done another. Sometimes I acquiesce to his way because it's his company and his projects and there can be good things to learn from his experience. However other times it boils down to such minute things like which keyboard commands I use in my work flow, or questioning and testing my listening/memory recall abilities, and his constant requirement to have me report every little tiny tiny thing that I'm doing so he can adjust and readjust and remind and criticize how I am handling things. There's always something wrong to be found. It's this god awful micromanaging and I just want to tear my hair out. However, there was an instance when he snapped at me and I politely made him aware that was out of line, so the next day he sat me down in the conference room, apologized, and asked me "How can we communicate better with each other?" So he's open to discussion and he's working on learning how to manage people better... I just don't really know how to tell him to back off and make things feel less claustrophobic. Sometimes I find confrontation difficult and usually avoid it in the workplace if possible, so this is something I need to work on myself.
At my old job I could just go to work and manage my own time and projects and didn't have to check in constantly. I had a natural feeling for when to check in and I knew when to ask questions, and I knew which projects had priority so I was able to balance my workload accordingly. However at this new place they are so concerned about "time wasted" that it's oppressive in numerous ways and I don't have the freedom to do things on my own. I've been thinking for a while about making this askme post and I did some searches on how to deal with micro-managers, and one suggestion I found was to over communicate - inundate him with so much information that he just lets go and realizes I know what I'm doing. That trick really didn't work as it takes up SO MUCH time and nothing gets done because he finds fault in so many things, and then I'm just dealing with the stress of even more unnecessary criticism. So lately the way I've been dealing with working with him has been checking in as required but trying to get work done under his radar - anytime I have to talk to him I bristle and just know that it's going to be bad. I'm usually good at being professional and detached but lately my blood just boils and I find myself very defensive.
I don't know what to do. I am really frustrated, and on top of that I feel like I could be fired any day now, or maybe just let go once the next three month period is up at my next review. I do not have a lot of savings or someone else to lean on financially if that happens so I need to be prepared. Some might say maybe this just isn't a good fit? I could start job hunting now (I'm kind of freaked out already that I may just spend my entire weekend doing just that) but how do I explain on an interview why I want to leave this current job after only being there for such a short period of time? What if the problem really is me and I just don't know how to communicate effectively and stand up to him? Is there a way to manage a micro-manager? Or what if it really is that I'm just not perfect enough and that is why he hounds me so much? I just don't know how to get it through to him that he needs to trust me, let me breathe, and be more of a mentor and less a puppeteer trying to pull my strings. Anyone have any suggestions, ideas? Tricks to calm down and work through this? Should I just cut and run and hope there's something better out there?
If you have read this whole thing I'm amazed. I really appreciate any feedback you might have, personal anecdotes or strategies to try. A throwaway email you can use to contact me would be sylvenya [at] hotmail (dot) com. Thanks!