I hate my boss and it's only my first week. Is that enough reason to quit?
July 25, 2011 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I hate my boss and it's only my first week. Is that enough reason to quit?

I just started a new job and I'm having some serious doubts about whether I should stay.

I am currently training for a new job. Basically, I need to take orders from customers, but my current main task is to take messages so that my boss can call customers back.

I was scolded three times today. Once, for writing a phone number on two lines instead of single line. (I was pretty upset when I saw this is actually something my boss does as well, on occasion.) Second, I accidentally wrote a message in her phone log instead of mine. I offered to rewrite it in mine but she said it was besides the point. Third, I told a caller that I recognized his voice and that he had called earlier. (My boss was unable to return his call in time, so they looked bad.) Also, I was generally a bit nervous and fumbly on the phone, especially after being reprimanded the second time.

My boss has every right to be mad. They have every right to want things done a certain way. But I mostly have an issue with the way they approached the issue with me. Things they said: "This is really easy stuff / I don't know what to tell you / I know you are smart but an 8 year old could do this / You do things MY way and that's IT... etc..." The 8 year old comment stung especially and I actually came close to crying while I was hearing this. I know I am a bit too sensitive with these things, but I truly felt awful. I felt like child being scolded.

I tried to bring these things up with them. But it didn't change anything and I really can't ask them to change their behavior.

Part of me feels like everyone hates their job and that I need to toughen up. But I need to go back tomorrow and there's a sinking, dreadful feeling at the thought of it. My boss even joked, "You better come back tomorrow!" I laughed it off but I'm really considering leaving.

Money is tight (living with my parents currently) but I have a two-day a week temp job that is wonderful so I wouldn't be totally SOL. On top of it, the current job doesn't pay me very much either. So... what the heck do I do now?
posted by joeyjoejoejr to Work & Money (48 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Cut your losses. Find something that won't kill your soul.
posted by zippy at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2011 [31 favorites]

Maybe it would be worth seeing how it is once you're done making new person mistakes?
posted by wondermouse at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your boss will not get better. I have twice had jobs that started out badly, and both times I came to wish that I had paid attention to the early warning signs. If leaving is an option, leave.
posted by not that girl at 5:20 PM on July 25, 2011 [31 favorites]

Do you know if the job has a high turnover rate?

I worked in a job once in a very small company where people quit left right and center because my boss was horrible. If you have any indication that people have been regularly leaving I would take it seriously.

Otherwise I think its a judgement call but I personally would lean towards leaving. The mistakes you made seem to me to be things that could easily be corrected without resorting to being rude.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:21 PM on July 25, 2011

Quit. Quit.
posted by jayder at 5:22 PM on July 25, 2011

I don't think it's the mistakes so much as the manner of correction. You will always make mistakes and you should work in an environment where you aren't treated contemptuously.

Some bosses seem to fail to realize that they get sub-optimal results by treating their employees this way. If your parents are letting you stay with them and they aren't seriously toxic to live with, get out of this lose-lose game. Cut your (and the company's) losses and find another job.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:23 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

Your boss doesn't sound reasonable at all. Maybe give it another week, but if it doesn't improve after that I would say it's not worth it. I don't think it's something you will get used to (you sound like me), and in my experience a bad job is just never worth whatever benefits you get from it.
posted by bearette at 5:25 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your job is answering the phone and writing stuff down? That's a pretty basic skill to master. So is dealing with impatient bosses. You will gain a lot of confidence and experience if you can stick it out for awhile, so you have something to take into your next job.
posted by blargerz at 5:26 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

Someone who speaks to you this disrespectfully this early will not get better. Life's too short. DTMF, and best of luck to you!
posted by cyndigo at 5:31 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

If this was an important step in your career I might say stay; suffering horrible people is a useful skill to have. But it sounds like this is just a job. And you have a place to live, and another PT job. So quit, it isn't worth it and this type of boss will only get nastier as time goes by.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:32 PM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]

Your boss does not every right to be mad.

Your boss has every right to set expectations, and then mentor you if you are not meeting expectations.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:33 PM on July 25, 2011 [10 favorites]

Leave, don't put it on your resume, and forget it ever happened.

I've had a lot of jobs like this. You'll quit sooner or later. Eventually, I learned to quit sooner.

I agree there is probably a high rate of turnover in this position. Your boss is abusive and you are NOT too sensitive. Don't EVER accept that sort of treatment for money, because subconsciously, you are telling yourself your emotional safety and self-respect aren't worth very much.

Put yourself first and quit this job via email, asap.

Sometimes you have to try out a few jobs until you find the right one. Looking for the right fit is the responsible move here. The sooner you quit, the sooner you'll end up in the right job for you.

Good luck!!
posted by jbenben at 5:33 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

I agree--this sounds like an entry level job you're just doing for money, not to advance your career. You *will* have to deal with asshats in your professional life, but better save your patience for a job that really matters.
posted by smirkette at 5:38 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's your first week, and you say that you're "in training". What you describe sounds like a really bad approach to training! Everyone makes mistakes. Especially in a new job. A manager that doesn't understand that is not a manager anyone should want to work for. Your manager sounds like a bully. Bullies don't change.

I was going to say "stick it out for a few weeks before you make a decision", but actually if that's the management style, then it sounds like a pretty toxic environment to be working in. So I'd vote for quitting. And telling HR / the agency that got you the job exactly why.

There are good jobs with good bosses out there. Sounds like you have that already in your temp position. Don't let this experience make you think that you don't deserve better. You do.

Good luck.
posted by finding.perdita at 5:38 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your boss was wrong. An 8-year old could not do this job. An 8-year old would have pimp-slapped the boss and been fired. You can quit via email. Give them your address to mail your check to. Do offer a reason for termination if they ask. "Salary insufficient justification for abuse" should suffice. Forget you ever worked there, and omit it from your resume.

In the future, consider whether there was anything in the interview that should have tipped you off, or whether you could have discovered this earlier. You'll eventually get better at identifying these kinds of jerks before you work for them.
posted by Hylas at 5:51 PM on July 25, 2011 [21 favorites]

I say you stick up for yourself before quitting. Go in tomorrow and describe how their behaviour was belittling and demeaning towards you and that in the future you would like to be spoken to as if their boss was watching the whole interaction. If things then don't change, quit. This way though you give yourself the chance to stick up for yourself in a constructive way.

Sometimes bullies need to be confronted before they respect someone; if they can get away with pushing someone around then that person "deserves it". Only by clearly drawing a line in the sand do some back off.

I know the conventional wisdom is just to quit, but time and again in my life people have shown way more respect when their bullying tactics are met with confusion, mild derision and sometimes even pity.

I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by fantasticninety at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2011 [8 favorites]

Depending on your circumstances, this looks like an excellent opportunity to play Bartleby or see how mad you can get your boss before they fire you. See how little of mistakes you can make that they'll get angry about. Sure, you don't put phone numbers on two lines anymore, but maybe you don't use dashes, or let the baseline of the numbers go up and down (don't just follow the lines). Keep asking what "MY WAY" is for mundane things like refilling the paperclip dispenser or ask him seriously if the Kleenex box is in a good-enough location. "I don't know, sometimes I want to grab a Kleenex with my left hand...what do you think?"
posted by rhizome at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

It is always best to have a new job lined up before leaving a job. Stick it out, but start looking for something new.

Perseverance is a good character trait to develop. You're boss is an ass, but you can put up with him. When you clock out at the end of your shift, leave it all behind, and be proud of yourself for hard day of work. You have a long career of working ahead of you. Work hard every day. Don't quit - move on to something better.
posted by Edward L at 6:10 PM on July 25, 2011

You know what? Don't come back tomorrow. Send an email to your boss (and maybe her supervisor as well) announcing your resignation effective immediately. Close with "Good luck in your search for an eight-year-old! P.S.: Eat a butt."

Okay, maybe don't do exactly that. But yes, by all means, quit, and soon. It's the first week of work; of course mistakes happen. If your boss doesn't get that, she's probably not going to be sympathetic towards anything.

And if you got this job through a temp agency, tell the agency about this woman's behavior. They don't want to lose good temps over crappy assignments.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:21 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

You know what? Don't come back tomorrow. Send an email to your boss (and maybe her supervisor as well) announcing your resignation effective immediately. Close with "Good luck in your search for an eight-year-old! P.S.: Eat a butt."

Yeah, write that out on paper. Enjoy the moment. Then tear up the paper into tiny pieces. No need to burn bridges with someone who seems likely to be vindictive.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:32 PM on July 25, 2011

Sounds like your boss is used to people quitting. Show her her behavior is inappropriate. If you'd like, go ahead and tell her that she needs to offer constructive criticism and basic respect. Probably won't help, but may.

Quit, leave it off your resume, find a new job. Lots of people hate their jobs, but your job shouldn't make you hate yourself.
posted by freshwater at 6:45 PM on July 25, 2011

I have a two-day a week temp job that is wonderful

I just noticed this. Quit! As far as your resume and future job interviews go, it never happened. Ask your temp agency for another assignment, keep applying to other jobs, but if you can quit this job and still eat? Do it.

Crap bosses are a dime a dozen, but a boss who actively belittles you is toxic. The eight-year-old remark would have had me in tears.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:53 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Quit. Do it tomorrow. This will not improve. Also, people shouldn't speak to you that way ("an 8-year-old can do this..."). That comment alone might be reason enough to quit (because it sets the tone of your relationship with this person over the long haul). They blew it.
posted by Buffaload at 7:04 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Eject Buckaroo! Eject!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:05 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

It won't get better.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:33 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

it sounds like this boss is used to ripping through people and deals with the high turnover. they're pushing hard right now to see what you're made of.

quitting is always an option.

or you can stand up for yourself. the next time they complain about the number being on two lines--say 'so what? you can read the number, can't you?' you mess up and lose a message or drop a call? well that sometimes happens. 'i was busy. i'll try to not to let it happen again.' you will still make mistakes and you have a lot to learn but don't let this person overwhelm you with their personality.

sometimes in the business world it's how we deal with our mistakes that make the real difference. no one is perfect all the time. but there isn't any room for someone who gets all weepy eyed over being chastised for a simple mistake. you're now a professional; act like one.
posted by lester at 7:47 PM on July 25, 2011

I would quit. New jobs are always hard and full of dumb mistakes, but no matter how good you get at this one, it seems pretty clear that your boss is and will always be a jerk. Not worth the misery.
posted by naoko at 7:50 PM on July 25, 2011

Do you know if the job has a high turnover rate?

I worked in a job once in a very small company where people quit left right and center because my boss was horrible. If you have any indication that people have been regularly leaving I would take it seriously.

This, this, this. This is actually on my list of most valuable life lessons that I have learned the hard way and won't ever repeat if I can help it.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

These things never get better. Quit now.
posted by SMPA at 8:33 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Quit. Tonight. Not because what happened was so very terrible YET, but because for him to speak this way to a someone on the first/second day is your sign that he is a nasty man, a disrespectful man who'd rather belittle you than coach you, and who absolutely WILL fire you one of these days for some stupid little thing, because he's not going to be invested in you. And when that happens, you'll have a nasty resume gap that you'll have to deal with for a long time; you'll either have to list that job and risk a bad reference, or you'll have to lie... If you just don't go back tomorrow, you can forget this whole thing ever happened.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:34 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Things they said: "This is really easy stuff / I don't know what to tell you / I know you are smart but an 8 year old could do this / You do things MY way and that's IT... etc..."

I had my boss say something similar when I started a new job -- and I'm mid-career, here, this wasn't really a training issue. What really burned me up was that the "basic" thing was not a "basic" thing, it was derived from an unexpected difference in workplace cultures between two different types of organizations. As soon as I had a minute to think about it calmly, I saw where the miscommunication had happened. Sadly, I did not have an opportunity to point out that if she could just put the exasperated martyr thing on hold for a second, she might find her lost powers of perception and communication.

I've been a boss, too, and trained people; it's a weird, tough job and I really don't love it. But I've gotta say that if you're disappointed in your new employee, unless they're being intentionally insubordinate, the supervisor should look in the mirror first -- they're the person responsible for successfully communicating the expectations and procedures of the job.

Uh, you can't really say any of the above to your new boss. But you can ask to speak to them privately, and then say something like "I'd like to clear the air about something. I have no problem being corrected, and I can take criticism, but I'd like to ask that it be constructive. I'm a professional person, and I don't know what to do with comments like 'an 8-year-old can do this.' Okay? That's all I wanted to say, I'm going to get back to work." And then smile politely and get back to work, and drop it.

And look into the concept of "managing up."
posted by desuetude at 8:35 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

And with regard to what someone said up there about having another job before you leave one: you will be in that trap ONLY if you stay a while. If you stay a while, you'll have to explain to your next job why you got fired or quit from the last one. If you leave now nobody will ever know you walked into this mess in the first place.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:36 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't reward her with your effort. You can learn these skills somewhere else. It is not worth the kinds of feelings you're having to learn these particular career lessons. It is not necessary to have your spirit crushed to be a good and effective employee.

If you're bold enough to do it, you can give her feedback when you let her know you're leaving (a letter is the most professional means, but face to face and walking works if you can't last another minute). Keeping it respectful and professional is your best bet, even if it requires beating around the bush a little ("your feedback style and my learning style don't mesh in a way that will guarantee my success or your satisfaction" is short, sweet, and truthful).

Whatever you decide, may the outcome be the most beneficial for your health & sanity.
posted by batmonkey at 8:42 PM on July 25, 2011

Tell her she has disappointed you very much, and you think it's unfortunate, but you're going to have to let her go as your boss. Leave her a note with where she can mail your pay check. Then leave.

Better to leave after a week than a month. Better to leave after a month than 6. You might even get lulled into a sense of complacency.
posted by oreofuchi at 9:00 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Listen to your gut on this one and walk. You'll find something better - being told in your first week that an 8 yr old could do the job does not bode well for a positive work relationship of any sort down the road. You deserve better; they do not deserve you.

I disagree that you're oversensitive and need to learn to be professional. On the contrary, professionals know when to draw the line and say "enough is enough, I can't work in this environment, so sorry, moving on."
posted by hms71 at 9:01 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

I had a job like this early in my career. I decided to leave after a month and quit on the way out Friday afternoon without giving any notice. My supervisor just shook my hand, wished me luck and said to keep my ears open for a job for him. He wasn't remotely surprised which is a clue I wasn't crazy regarding the boss. Did I ever regret it? Well, I regretted staying for a month and not quitting after the first week.

I would get the hell out of there and forget this job ever existed. Life is too short to hate what you do 8-10 hours a day. When you eventually move out on your own, this is why it's a good idea to keep a couple months rent sitting in the bank at all times (I know, easier said than done).
posted by thebriguy72 at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2011

I too had a job like this. I lasted 6 months and I am still scarred by it. Since you can quit and not live in a dumpster, quit and forget about it.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 9:56 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I quit a job at a public library after only 2 hours once for just this sort of crazy, mishandled micromanaging of stuff. My direct boss walked up to me, and without even an introduction, said, "Stop sitting like that." (I was sitting on my folded up leg.) I did, then he said, "and don't rest your chin on your hand" and walked off. This was my first day, and it was the very first thing-only thing!-he said to me. I went to lunch and came back only to drop off my resignation. Not because this made me cry, (which it did, and a little girl actually came up to me and said, "I heard what he said to you, and that wasn't very nice!") but because I felt like shit, and I could just tell that this was never going to improve. This guy and I were never going to get along. He was treating me like this without even having met me, and I was 30 with a Master's degree. Under-employed and being treated like that? No way.

If you do not see that this has a chance for improvement, I think that it is absolutely fine to cut your losses quickly. I am glad I did.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:14 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

desuetude said exactly what I would say -

"I'd like to clear the air about something. I have no problem being corrected, and I can take criticism, but I'd like to ask that it be constructive. I'm a professional person, and I don't know what to do with comments like 'an 8-year-old can do this."

The only difference is that it would be during my exit interview. They'd only get the courtesy of a resignation so I could keep a good relationship with my recruiter - because there's no way I'd go back to a boss like that if I had an alternative.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:09 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Walk away.

Not everyone hates their job. I quite like mine. It's taken me 10 years to find a position that I actually like, but I do enjoy working where I do.

Life is too short to take abuse from people. There is no amount of money that you can be paid to make it worthwhile. Jobs are like relationships, in a way. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Sometimes you just have to walk away from something that isn't working.

Also, you do not have to go back. You know it's going to be bad if you do, and I'd lay money on the fact that the abuse gets worse, not better, as time goes on.
posted by Solomon at 12:13 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Leave! Do it now! My first week at work was awful and I'm still here 10 months later, pretty much hating it.

I have got some valuable experience and contacts from the job so it's not been a total wash-out. From the way you describe your role it sounds like this wouldn't be the case for you? In which case I would leave straight away and not even put it on my CV in future.
posted by Encipher at 3:59 AM on July 26, 2011

Just quit. She was apologetic and nice about it. But I have no doubts that she'd just go back to the same exact behavior again.

Thanks for helping me put this in perspective.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 5:57 AM on July 26, 2011 [16 favorites]

I think that, specifically because you won't be SOL, you should tough it out for a week or two. And then make the time a learning experience, or 'paid therapy': look for ways to stick up for yourself, things to say to yourself to keep you going, ways to soothe yourself when you want to cry. Take each abuse as "Oh good, another insult I can learn to deflect from my inner psyche!"

If you know it's time limited, and you decide it's going to benefit you, it might be easy to have the corresponding attitude, i.e.: this is like abusive boss summer camp.

My thought being that you WILL meet more abusive people in your life, and if you can learn how to handle it and love yourself now (and for pay!) . . . it's cheaper than therapy, y'know?

(If you do that, know that the next downfall would be getting attached to the money, in such a way that you become stuck there. Don't do that, lol. This whole exercise only works because you can walk whenever you want ;o)
posted by MeiraV at 6:19 AM on July 26, 2011

on 'preview': nevermind, as you already quit, lol.

Congrats & Good luck!
posted by MeiraV at 6:23 AM on July 26, 2011

This wanker is not going to change. If you're up to confronting get politely and explaining that if she behaves like that again you will go straight to their supervisor, do it. If you're not up to it then quit and find something else. If you put up and shut up you will be posting something seriously unhappy here in 6 months time. Either way, spare yourself that.
posted by dmt at 2:39 PM on July 26, 2011

Good for you. Congratulations.
posted by jayder at 1:51 PM on July 28, 2011

Joining the chorus that your boss had no right to be mad. I'm glad you quit. I just quit a job with a similarly abusive boss last week (telling me I was "gossiping and purposely wasting his time" during my first two hours, while I was shadowing and asking how to do my job). On the plus side, once you've experienced it you can tell right away when someone's management style relies exclusively on manipulation and abuse.

I think you were absolutely right that if you had stayed, her behavior would have gone right back to jerk boss-- I've been hired for two jobs now where the ad and the hiring process were syrupy sweet, and then the job itself began. There's really no reason you should have to regularly experience emotional trauma at work unless 1) you work in the field of alleviating trauma or 2) you desperately need a job. I was hoping to hear "eat a butt" made a debut, but I'm happy in any case.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:02 PM on September 7, 2011

Also, there's something to be said for having the experience at least once, but I don't think sticking around would have taught you much, except that it's shit and will remain shit. Once you're an adult (when you're a child!) you should do everything in your power to avoid situations where someone with authority over you regularly insults you and makes you cry. People who deal with that regularly, um, develop multiple personalities and everything.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:09 PM on September 7, 2011

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