My boss hates me.
October 23, 2011 2:09 PM   Subscribe

So, my new manager doesn't like me.

I was recently hired for a job I've been temping at for the past thirteen months. Yay! As a temp, I worked under two different managers, who both had excellent things to say about my performance. My last manager took a new role in the company, and I was moved to a manager who had made it quite clear during my temp days that he didn't like me. He has since given me a warning about my attendance under the previous managers (which involved major emergency surgery and a hurricane which delayed the start of my son's school). These absences were approved by my previous managers, so I don't think it's his place to call me out on it now. In addition, he's complained about my performance to upper management, where my previous managers praised me to the same people. To make matter more complicated, my wife is a higher up in this company, and my boss may be taking out his feelings towards her on me. I just don't know how to deal with this situation. I honestly feel like he's gunning to get me fired, but I really need this job, and, as far I knew, I was doing a good job at it. How do I deal with a boss with a vendetta?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I know it's trite but really the only thing you can do here is "your best". Try to prove the guy wrong. In my experience, if one manager is in the minority opinion about you and the rest like you, you'll usually be okay.
posted by bleep at 2:30 PM on October 23, 2011

Get things written down. Go into his office and ask for a formal performance review and a list of what it is you're expected to do, on a daily and longer-term basis. If he refuses, send him an email. If he puts it off, send another email in a week. When he complains about your work, send him the email again.

In the meantime, ask HR what their expectations of your job are. If they don't have any, okay. Similarly, make sure you know the details of the performance review process. If there isn't one, then make up a list of expectations. Make it as detailed as you possibly can (I mean to the level of "Boss expects OP to be in office and ready to begin work at 9 a.m." and "Boss expects OP to take no more than two coffee breaks, where OP will not leave the building, per day."). Do not assume, just because your old bosses did things one way, that the new boss will do things the same way.

Eventually, when he gets the hint that you won't give up on this, go into the meeting with that list you've already written of your expectations of yourself and of him. If he has different expectations, great. He's the boss. It's his call. Negotiate, but if he flat-out doesn't want to include something, now you know that he doesn't expect it to happen. Once you're done, sign and have him countersign that list of expectations. Keep it somewhere that you can check it every day. Take notes when you live up to (or fail to live up to) these expectations. Once a month, do a deep reading of it and compare your performance to his expectations (and to yours). Once a quarter, ask to go over it with him face-to-face.

If he never gets the hint and continues to refuse to do this, then you have a long list of emails to him (which you have not only saved on your hard drive, but printed out and kept at home) that say you desperately tried to establish a common picture of his expectations.

And in the meantime, you do what he asks and make genuine attempts to align to what you think he wants you to do and be like. He's probably just as annoyed as you are by this guy who works for him who gallivanted off without telling him.
posted by Etrigan at 2:31 PM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Call his bluff. Ask him to document all of the various ways you can improve, and have him come up with metrics by which you can be measured. Make him work to prove his position, and incidentally you'll be taking the golden-employee approach anyway (and who knows, maybe it'll be fruitful).

On preview... what Etrigan said. :)
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:32 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

In a lot of these threads people will tell you to document everything. See if you can get copies of those old performance reviews, and when this guy tries to pin something on you, you have a self documented history, and previous paperwork from your old boss to back you up.
posted by hellojed at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2011

First of all, that sucks, I feel for you. Every job situation is different, but I'd start w/ at least two things:

* Have a private chat w/ your previous managers and get their advice. It sounds like over the past year, they've seen you perform well, and in fact have invested their reputations in sticking up for you. They should know the organization much better and should be able to give you better/more relevant advice than strangers on the Internet. (I'm sure you've had discussions with your wife as well on the topic?)

* Document everything, including the incidents you've mentioned where you were warned about attendance, etc. etc. If things escalate, at a certain point you may have to make a case to someone. Having a running log will be very useful in a number of such scenarios.

Other (more speculative) things:

* It sounds like there's not much chance that you'll be successful w/ a manager who's out to get you. I'd try the approach of trying to clear the air. If he's complained to upper management, ask him very clearly about where he believes your performance can improve. Depending on your EQ, try to figure out what his beef is and try to work that out.

* This company sounds big enough to have a at least a couple layers of management, managers - IMO, your best option is try the former (do what you can to not give your manager any excuses) while simultaneously trying you best to move under someone else within the company, preferably someone who's interested in your shared success.

* In my experience, nothing good can usually come of it, but who knows, maybe your HR can be helpful (establishing performance guidelines, performance reviews? greasing a sideways transfer?) I'd try the other things first.
posted by lhl at 2:39 PM on October 23, 2011

You have all my sympathy. You were such a good temp, they wanted you permanently! Your bosses liked your work! Therefore, you are a good worker and competent in your position.

Unfortunately, your boss is your boss, and it sounds like he's really rotten. Decide for yourself if you want to try any of the remedies mentioned above. If I were you, I'd try to transfer into a position under a different manager. (Talking to your former bosses could help here.) Otherwise, start looking for positions outside the company.

Life it too short to be in the kind of stressful situation you're in.
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:41 PM on October 23, 2011

Keep job hunting or try to transfer. If someone hates you and they are in charge of you, uh... that won't get better.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:28 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ask yourself whether you're really excellent at politics. If yes - follow Etrigan's advice to document everything, and use the other managers as your allies. If they're at all involved, cc them on emails and deliverables to be sure you get credit for your work. (I've heard of bad bosses holding on to subordinates' work to make it appear delinquent, or passing it on to upper management themselves and taking the credit.) Try to get praise via email so it's documented. If you impress enough higher-ups outside your department, one of them will probably try to get you on their team.

If you're NOT into politics, and the constant vigilance this would entail... a new job without a toxic boss is probably a better idea.
posted by jetsetlag at 5:12 AM on October 24, 2011

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