How should I deal with my idiotic, condescending, and disrespectful boss?
May 7, 2008 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I am good at what I do. I currently oversee a dept of about 10 people. I like the people in my department. I've had various opportunities to develop professionally until recently, and I am stuck doing a lot of unnecessary leg work due to lack of support. The problem is my boss and his boss. I have no respect for them, and most importantly, I don't see any further professional development, mainly because they're getting in the way of potential opportunities. Do I leave or stay (become bitter/mad/resentful of them)? If I stay, how do I deal with idiotic, disrespectful, and condescending boss? (more info inside)

My bosses' actions and inability to provide sufficient support is frustrating. In addition, the double standards against me has gotten me losing respect for them, not to mention discouraging. I would like to stay with the company if possible, but working under the current bosses would mean having to deal with their disrespect, and inability to communicate important information properly. I have built tenure, credibility, and respect within the organization, so I would like to stay with the organization if possible, just would like my bosses to be competent and supportive. I would try looking for, or expressing my interest for development opportunities, but I think my boss would 'block' it, since I think they've done it before so they could get me promoted to this position.

I am not sure what to do: look for outside opportunities and leave quietly, or potentially risk rocking the boat and having to deal with not getting along with my bosses until I do leave.

At this time, other positions available within the organization would be a step down from my current position.

What I would like to know is, if I stay is, what things should I be doing smarter in the work place? Are there books I should be reading (classes or hobbies) that might help me deal and cope?
posted by icollectpurses to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Trying to collect a bit more background. Are you at a company that is large enough to have a Human Resources department?
posted by netbros at 5:54 PM on May 7, 2008

You find another job. If you are in a big company try to find one somewhere else in the company, and it does kind of sound like you do not want to leave the company. If that is not an option then go elsewhere. These bozos will hold you back otherwise. They are very unlikely to change, unless this is just a misunderstanding on their part. It doesn't sound like that; it sounds more fundamental.
posted by caddis at 5:59 PM on May 7, 2008

I bought this book, and I can summarise it like this: DTMFA, which sounds like a typical toss-away response, but I went through some crap with stupid managers. I tried a bunch of things, but in the end I quit, when I finally couldn't stand it anymore, and without a safety net. I would recommend to you that you know that you don't respect your bosses, and that is a very good reason to look for another position. Do not burn bridges, because as you said, it's an organisation that you would like to work for, if everything was fine, and maybe, someday you can come back. But seriously, start checking out the opportunities in your field, fixing up your resume, and getting good reference. Move. You can't fix these bosses and life is too short to work for wankers.
posted by b33j at 6:11 PM on May 7, 2008

If you like the company so much, couldn't you take the step down and get the promotion opportunities later that you wouldn't be getting otherwise? Seems that and the quality of life issues might be worth it, plus working different jobs in the company might be an asset.
posted by crapmatic at 6:53 PM on May 7, 2008

How should I deal with my idiotic, condescending, and disrespectful boss?

Are you sure your bosses are such idiots? Or is there some other mismatch keeping things from working? Do other people in your business have an equal amount of frustration with these people?

The reason I ask is because I read a lot of viciousness in your question. You basically are really venting on these people and that's a sign that you're allowing your emotions to get the best of you.

If you're emotional like this in the workplace that can create a self fulfilling prophecy where your bosses act like idiots because they think you're an incompetent drama queen.

I'm not saying this is the case, but it's a possibility. I've seen very reasonable, adult, responsible, and generous people fall into emotional traps of acting very childish in the work place.

All I'm saying is take a long hard look at your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward your bosses and you may realize that some of the problems you have are self-inflicted.

Either that or get a new job.
posted by wfrgms at 6:56 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Move jobs. You don't like them; they probably don't like you. Whatever, you need to change.
posted by TrashyRambo at 7:02 PM on May 7, 2008

Yep, there's an HR department. I am, however, hesitant about approaching them because my boss's boss is sort of HR's boss as well. In addition, I don't know if the reward is worth rocking the boat. The CEO, CFO, and other c-level people, my bosses' bosses, have even pressed them to be more hands on, and start managing us appropriately.

wfrgms, you're right. Their behavior is making me take it my question changing jobs my only option.

Thank you to all who have responded so far...would love to hear more.
posted by icollectpurses at 8:22 PM on May 7, 2008

There are 2 things you can do (or that I'd do if I were you).

1.) Get your bosses promoted to elsewhere in the organization. Let them get a bunch of credit for some big wins that your team is responsible for, and make them seem like good candidates for other positions. That will open up their current position so you can step into it if qualified...

2.) The BETTER option: You should ALWAYS be open to getting a new job. You should always be networking. Are there local conventions or get together that you can attend with professionals that are in similar careers? Get out there, make friends and meet some of those people - they want to pay you more money and give you more responsibility! :) Also, with the economy the way it is, no matter how secure you think your job may be, no one is 100% untouchable. Always have your resume up to date, and always be open to talking with someone about a new opportunity. You never HAVE to take an opportunity, and it's always ok to turn a job offer down.
posted by xotis at 8:39 PM on May 7, 2008

FWIW, I spent 14 years working for a boss that pretty much everyone else in our large company did not like. This meant that everyone came to me, and then I had to go to her to try to mediate. A wonderful arrangement.

Finally our company was out sourced and during an exit interview I mentioned to HR that I would definitely not miss my boss. I discovered they were well aware of the situation. They kind of hinted that #1 - she may have had other problems and #2 - she had very high respect for me.

Moral of this story: don't wait 14 years like me to say something.
posted by forthright at 9:11 PM on May 7, 2008

Life is too short to spend any more time under the bosses you describe. A person like you deserves a much better work situation, where you are valued, supported, and promoted. Find your way out of your current position by looking inside the company and comparing with opportunities outside the company.
posted by exphysicist345 at 10:35 PM on May 7, 2008

I can't tell you if there's another option. I can tell you that, reading your question on a cell phone on the bus, my response was "why is this person posting? they hate their job and see no options, they should find a new job." I'm not saying that's the real-world situation, but the way this post is written, you're going to get variations on that theme. The way you see it, there are things you need that they should be giving you (and they probably should), eg, you "just would like [your] bosses to be competent and supportive," but they're not going to, and focusing on that is not going to get you anywhere. You could maybe find creative ways to go around them, but that only works in some situations and for people who already think that way. The way you see it, you need stuff from them, and they won't give it to you. And you are blocked by them from advancing internally or getting help internally (HR). Yet you want to stay. So, you ask, how do you deal with a totally horrible boss? Your question reminds me of this question and the answer is either what everyone else said or what paulsc said. I guess the third option is to ask coworkers for their insights. Before you do that, I'd figure out what you want in the big picture, not just what is frustrating about your current situation.
(Also here's a random article I just found
while looking for what I wanted to recommend, which is this book, which you might try to skim in a bookstore.) Best of luck -- it doesn't sound fun.
posted by salvia at 11:52 PM on May 7, 2008

The minute you get into this mindset, you're toast, because bosses can smell loss of respect a mile away. If I were you, I'd be looking for something else. You want a promotion anyway, right? So, if that opportunity doesn't present itself within your current organization, look for it elsewhere. If you've built up tenure, respect and credibility within the organization, then presumably that extends to clients and partners that you've had dealings with. In the meantime, behave in the most impeccably professional way you can, so as not to burn bridges.

Good luck, 'cause this situation is never fun!
posted by LN at 5:22 AM on May 8, 2008

If you want to continue with the organization, make sure you do the following:

1) make sure your boss's peers (other managers in other departments), and your boss's boss know you and the good work you do.

2) If your boss is incompetent, make sure you don't do *too* much to make his incompetence invisible to his bosses. By being indispensible to your direct boss, you are making yourself unpromotable- your boss won't let it happen because it would wreck his easy ride.

2a) Make sure your own performance is unassailable- starting with you and your group, the job gets done- correctly and on time. Never let covering for your boss get in the way of your responsibilities.

3) In a more personal nature, make sure you tell your boss when he is insulting and condescending to you. Not in the emotional outburst kind of way, but just in a statement of fact way. People are condescending because they can get away with it.

In other words, make yourself slightly "difficult" with the things that aren't your problem, at the same time as you excel at your actual job. The boss will have no way to criticize you without exposing his own faults. He might help you get promoted in order to get someone more pliable in your spot.

The goal is to show that you are a good performer despite the faults of the boss.

The danger is that the boss might get pissed off and find a way to get rid of you. Even if that happens, you'll have evidence that you were doing your job right and he's the problem.
posted by gjc at 7:37 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

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