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How to cope with bad work situation?
Old 12-15-2009, 05:30 PM   #1
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How to cope with bad work situation?

I am in a work situation that has rapidly deteriorated in the last couple months. I will not get into details, but a phenomenally bad manager who will not be removed by his superiors has allowed a hostile situation to develop that just keeps getting worse. I think we are headed to the point of a lawsuit risk (harassment, etc.), but since I know what happens to whistleblowers I will not be sticking my neck out more than I already have. I will be moving on at my earliest convenience, either within or beyond the organization. In the meantime, I have to deal with the exhausting nonsense plus a heavy workload. Any tips for coping? I am trying to just keep my head down and stay engrossed in what I am doing, but the urge to add rat poison to some's drink or bludgeon them with a chair is rapidly increasing.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:32 PM   #2
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I am in a work situation that has rapidly deteriorated in the last couple months. I will not get into details, but a phenomenally bad manager who will not be removed by his superiors has allowed a hostile situation to develop that just keeps getting worse. I think we are headed to the point of a lawsuit risk (harassment, etc.), but since I know what happens to whistleblowers I will not be sticking my neck out more than I already have. I will be moving on at my earliest convenience, either within or beyond the organization. In the meantime, I have to deal with the exhausting nonsense plus a heavy workload. Any tips for coping? I am trying to just keep my head down and stay engrossed in what I am doing, but the urge to add rat poison to some's drink or bludgeon them with a chair is rapidly increasing.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:46 PM   #3
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Brew, sorry to hear of you situation. I'm surprised that idiotic behavior needs to exist even in a supposedly secure and permanent job situation. It just blows the general consensus here that people are intrinsically good except when they are insecure about their jobs.

I'm assuming that by saying that you have stuck your neck out as far as you already have that you have informed this idiot boss's superior. Don't be surprised if the superior does absolutely nothing. Firing people is not a pleasant experience, so some bosses would rather wait and hope that the problem blows over than do something about the problem.

My advice is to move on ASAP. Meanwhile, just remind yourself that you are probably more financially secure than this guy, and if push comes to shove, he's going to be the one who is going to be SOL.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:55 PM   #4
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I am in a work situation that has rapidly deteriorated in the last couple months. I will not get into details, but a phenomenally bad manager who will not be removed by his superiors has allowed a hostile situation to develop that just keeps getting worse. I think we are headed to the point of a lawsuit risk (harassment, etc.), but since I know what happens to whistleblowers I will not be sticking my neck out more than I already have. I will be moving on at my earliest convenience, either within or beyond the organization. In the meantime, I have to deal with the exhausting nonsense plus a heavy workload. Any tips for coping? I am trying to just keep my head down and stay engrossed in what I am doing, but the urge to add rat poison to some's drink or bludgeon them with a chair is rapidly increasing.

Sounds like you have a very good perspective on things, by staying engrossed in what you are doing. When I was still w*rking, I had my share of having to some real pains too. Those who purposely would try to throw a wrench in team plans, or try to send email "gotchas" and try to debate with their emails.

About the thoughts of rat poison and chair bludgeoning, nothing wrong with daydreaming, as long as you keep it a daydream.

Hang in there, I feel your pain
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:56 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear about your situation. I've always stuck with situations like that longer than I should have, to the point where they adversely affected my personality, life outside of work, and made work itself miserable.
So glad to have the FU money to not have to put up with it anymore. I can't offer any advice as I've never been able to cope very well with those situations where you just want to stick a pencil in their eyes, but I can commisserate.
The last really incompetent boss I had, I didn't care that I was whistle-blowing, and it didn't have any negative repercussions. (I don't think...) Well, it did for him because he was fired a couple of weeks later.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:57 PM   #6
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I dealt with a nightmarish work situation for 7 years (so don't anybody tell me I didn't *earn* my retirement benefits, in spades! And you KNOW what I mean.).

How I handled it was basically not very well as it was very stressful and the usual stress induced physical and mental health consequences were atrocious. I tried to focus on the paycheck and re-computed my retirement budget and financial plans every day. I didn't dare take long vacations because I needed to spread out my vacation time for mental health and stress reduction purposes. This is where my LBYM motivation came from. I was knocking myself out trying to make sure if/when everything fell apart, I could survive. Oceanography jobs are not easy for to find and it is all I know how to do.

I investigated possible sideways moves locally in the organization to get out from under, but most of them were not such a good fit to my background and the move naturally would have had office political ramifications. My attempts were unsuccessful. I investigated the possibility of moving to my organization's HQ, which was recruiting me, but with HQ being in the D.C. area it seemed like financial disaster to me due to the much higher cost of living. So, I tucked my head down and toughened up.

It was a HUGE surprise to me when my phenomenally bad supervisor was eventually promoted and gone. W*rk was a bowl of cherries after that. This does seem to happen to bad management often, since it is the easiest way for their management to cope with a bad situation.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:04 PM   #7
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This thread reminds me of one year when I w*rked in a situtuation where the boss was really pushy, and had really really bad personal skills. No need to go in detail, but one thing which balanced thing out was at the time, during the appraisal process, there was the 360 appraisals. (The boss rates subordinates, but subordinates rated bosses too). Well, our groud told the truth, and said how the boss would lose her temper, not show up for meetings she scheduled, etc. I'm all for 360 apprasials, so the subordinates have a voice to protect from those royal pain in the @ss bosses and co-workers.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:13 PM   #8
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Based on your moniker I'll say: Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew.
AND start working your network, and getting your resume out there.

Last year I was put in an awkward enough position that I chose to resign. It wasn't easy, but I've never regretted it. I was very glad that my lifestyle (and the support of my loving wife) gave me that ability.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:19 PM   #9
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Would an anonymous letter help any?
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:21 PM   #10
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You must be w*rking for my former employer, in particular my former supervisor.
Sorry to hear this situation is in your face.
My method of coping with stuff like this was to be quiet (a tough one in practice but doable!) if nasty politics break out and just LISTEN.
When people are agitiated and vocal, they make amazing mistakes. You as the listener simply won't do that. It will also help you detach from the craziness and help you focus on w*rk.

Memorize please: Go placidly among the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Did that help?
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:31 PM   #11
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You must be w*rking for my former employer, in particular my former supervisor.
Sorry to hear this situation is in your face.
My method of coping with stuff like this was to be quiet (a tough one in practice but doable!) if nasty politics break out and just LISTEN.
When people are agitiated and vocal, they make amazing mistakes. You as the listener simply won't do that. It will also help you detach from the craziness and help you focus on w*rk.

Memorize please: Go placidly among the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Did that help?
That last place I w*rked for was stressful, with polictics that broke out. I was quiet, did my work, grinned it and beared it, until I finally did the Johnny Paycheck move and decided to FIRE when offered to be outsourced to a more stressful situation.

When I left, I sent a very nice, professional goodbye letter.

The most important thing of all, I feel is that I took the high road and left with my values intact.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:41 PM   #12
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Been there, done that, Brew, and without the option of moving on that you fortunately have.

Had 2 choices: Endure, or resign (and torpedo my retirement benefits because of one jerk? No waaay!) I ignored his insulting behavior and that of his toadies, and acted like my crappy assignments were gilded honors. As my personal revenge fantasy, I pretended that I was an imprisoned, exiled Queen, who would get her kingdom back one day. I held my head high, and tried to laugh and act like I was above the fray. Unless I absolutely had to report to the Evil One, I pretended he did not exist. I also exercised daily, took vitamins (which I usually don't), and saw a doctor for sleeping problems. I also reminded myself that bad as things were, they were still better than pounding the cold hard pavement.

After two years, the Evil One moved on (leaving a trail of damaged employees in his wake) and I discovered that quite a few people, including senior ones, knew about him and had developed respect for me. You will get through your nightmare, too - but take extra good care of yourself in the meantime.

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Old 12-15-2009, 06:52 PM   #13
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I am in a work situation that has rapidly deteriorated in the last couple months. I will not get into details, but a phenomenally bad manager who will not be removed by his superiors has allowed a hostile situation to develop that just keeps getting worse. I think we are headed to the point of a lawsuit risk (harassment, etc.), but since I know what happens to whistleblowers I will not be sticking my neck out more than I already have. I will be moving on at my earliest convenience.....
Been there, done that....TWICE! My first supervisor and my last supervisor...both of whom were spectacularly humongous idiots! I handled each differently though.

The first was allowed by his superiors to run roughshod over all of the employees, with absolutely no repercussions from his overseers. So one day we all had all that we could handle, and contacted the senior partner of the local 'Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe' law firm (who was a very good friend of one of my coworkers). We set up an appointment for a few days later to get the wheels turning to take legal action against the idiot. The day after we called him, we went and talked to our idiot supervisor's boss, and informed him of our intentions to file suit against our idiot supervisor........AND against *those who had allowed him to continue as he had (*the fellow we were talking to!). Our supervisor was immediately reprimanded and was asked for his resignation. Problem solved. We called and canceled our appointment!

Then, over the ensuing years we had a couple of good supervisors, and enjoyed (as best as we could) peace and harmony in the workplace.

But then came the next supervisor, who almost had us begging for the first one to come back! This guy was (still is) a complete imbecile of galactic proportions!!! He is dumber than a stump, has NO 'people skills', has no idea how to manage the department or the employees, and is the biggest @ss kisser and brown noser I've ever seen! I tolerated his ineptness and idiocy for about 3-4 years, and the very moment that an early retirement 'buy-out' was offered, I grabbed it and ran like h*ll!!! He and I had locked horns at the very beginning of his reign there, and he became very much aware of my stance, and that I wouldn't take any sh*t from him.....so he pretty much tolerated me and left me alone after that. Had I stayed on, I most definitely would have taken whatever actions that would have been necessary to sink his ship, and get him removed.

Life's too short to have to be stressed out by idiotic people!
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:42 PM   #14
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Sorry to hear about your toxic situation . What has always helped me is to take a step back and try to see where their anger or insanity or incompetence is coming from . I then take a deep breath and remain calm and amazingly it seems things get better . Unfortunately now is not the time to be job hunting with all the unemployment so pour yourself a brew and regroup .
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:55 PM   #15
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Would an anonymous letter help any?
I already went to his boss behind closed doors and indicated that there are problems that need to be fixed. Since the senior management manual in this place dictates that they support middle mgmt vs. the peons, I had to greatly soften my message even though any idiot could see that what I had to say was a complete indictment. That is as far as I am going.

Anonymous letters, complaints to HR, 360 reviews, etc. all turn you into a whistleblower. Generally speaking, the best whistleblowers can hope for is defenstration, so I will not be going that way.

As for the job search, I think there are several hiring managers within the organization that would kill to have me. I am hoping spots open up after the new year when the new budget opens up positions. I am also nosing around outside and seeing a surprising number of positions. One is similar to much work I have done and has everything but my name on it. Another one that could be interesting if they decide I am vaguely qualified for it is a CFO spot at a tiny organization. No doubt there are others.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:06 PM   #16
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Sorry to hear about your situation.

Sounds like you should move on. Some suggestions:

1.line something else up first before you hand in your notice. Take your time and don't jump at the first unsatisfactory offer you get

2. do not slack off, goof off or mouth off at work - at this point you do not know how long you will have to be there and self sabotage leading to a period of unemployment is not going to help (especially if you get transferred within the organisation)

3. don't get involved in the politics - this includes sharing grievances with co-workers. Even if no one plays the snitch, it's too easy to get a reputation as a whiner

4. find some healthy destressing activities - go to the gym at lunch, go for a walk, bring a humerous book to read at your desk - whatever works

5. be nice to the jerk. He may end up either writing your reference letter or influencing someone else who does

6. don't vent your spleen as you walk out the door - whatever you say could follow you to the next job and you get a better reputation by appearing calm and controlled (and not frothing at the mouth)

7. don't poison the coffee etc. If you watch a few episodes of CSI etc, the powers that be are pretty good at working out who did it. Your co-workers may give you a humanitarian award but the presentation will be behind bars

8. dodging an excessive workload is not always easy, but a few tips. Always look busy. If you work at a desk, keep it covered in papers etc. Spend as much time away from the desk as you think you can get away with (in meetings). Delay returning calls and e-mails to people who may wish to add to your burden as late as possible (but not to the point of appearing to be unresponsive). Do not volunteer for anything. These tactics are particularly important on Friday afternoons when idiots start trying to find ways to waste your weekend. Needless to say, none of these should be taken to the point where they damage your reputation.

Whatever else you do, remember that your reputation is something you can only spend once.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:14 PM   #17
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Brewer, sorry to hear about your problems. I spent 5 of the last 7 years in my job in a really bad situation, all caused by (mis)management. I was losing my mind, because I loved the job, and really wanted to do it right. But that was in complete contrast to what the boss wanted, which was to build a political empire by not doing anything (thereby not making mistakes) and by backstabbing his peers.

I was truly miserable, and spent a lot of time at home pissing and moaning to DW. She's a saint, by the way. She finally convinced me that I was in a no win situation, and that there was nothing I could do to make it better. So the best thing I could do was to RIP (Retire In Place). It was hard, and completely against my personality, but over the period of two years I did it. I quit caring, quit being involved with decision making, did the absolute minimum I had to to keep from getting fired, and somehow still kept getting excellent performance reviews.

In the long run there was a happy ending. First, I found a different job in the same company. It wasn't a job I loved, but as I discovered, a good boss and a bad/mediocre job is far better than a great job and a lousy boss. I spent my last two years much happier. Especially when a year after I had moved on the boss, his boss, and their pet flunky/snitch all got canned for misappropriation of funds, falsifying expense reports, and sexual harassment. Sweeet! It really wasn't as bad as it sounds, but they were definitely accepting improper gifts from vendors, and the harassment I believe had to do with getting drunk on vendor money and making improper jokes to female subordinates. I think by then upper management had (FINALLY!) caught on a little, and were looking for ways to get rid of them. And they didn't even do the standard "kick them upstairs" method.

I guess my point is keep your head down, look out for yourself, protect your paycheck, and see what happens. Obviously, if you get a chance to move yourself beyond the crappy situation, take it. But I think you'll be amazed how much pressure RIPing will relieve. Good luck, dude.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:24 PM   #18
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I cannot retire on the job. It is against my nature and furthermore what I do is important for the greater good, so doing a poor job goes against the rules I choose to live by.

The miscreants in this case have not (AFAIK) done anything shady with money, since small transgressions would be cause for spending some time in the big house. But we have inappropriate remarks about the opposite sex, obscenity laced tirades directed at specific people in meetings, etc. going on. Considering that the bad actors are all white men and some of the targets are people of color and women, I would say they are getting to the point of begging for a lawsuit. I want to be over the horizon before anything like that goes down.

The solution is really just to move on, which I am capable of doing. Losing my job is not even a remote possibility, esepcailly since senior management knows full well they desparately need me. In fact, I expect a lot of pushback when I tell them I am departing, and they may even try to keep me from going if it is to another department. In that case, either they sort out the mess, or I leave the organization.

I am (of course) kidding about the rat poison, although I probably would not be above stink palming someone's keyboard if pushed hard enough.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:30 PM   #19
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I am (of course) kidding about the rat poison, although I probably would not be above stink palming someone's keyboard if pushed hard enough.
ok, no rat poison.

Roaches in the desk?

Bedbugs in the chair?

ta,
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:38 PM   #20
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I was thinking a little syrup of ipecac in someone's gatorade.
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