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Old 05-25-2008, 11:07 PM   #21
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I have a question regarding toxic work environments. How do you identify it? Any honest and self-aware person would first have to ask, "Is it because I'm doing something wrong, or is it because I'm just not too good at playing the political games?" At what point do you say that something is just wrong and leave?
Well, I've learned that you should avoid working for the boss of the guy who's been seeing a psychiatrist and coughing up blood. And you don't want to work for guys who pound tables or wake up at night with screaming nightmares. But I learned a lot about taking care of my people and watching my back.

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Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to make valuable suggestions. Because of all the replies, I'm writing a single reply to summarize the situation. ERD50 is correct. Before I wrote the post, I asked myself several times if I should because two years ago, I left another job because I thought the management didn't play things right. Two in a roll just seems excessive.
So how do this job's issues compare to the issues of the previous job? Did you upgrade or regress?

I've never had a "real" job, but I think it's a lot harder to find one with an ethical company. Or maybe there's something you could learn to pick up on while you're still in the interview process.

You might want to take a vacation day and do an exit interview with that controller who somehow can't find the time to keep tabs on his managers. But considering how he allocates his time, maybe you want to consult with an EEOC lawyer and bring a witness...
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Old 05-26-2008, 03:31 AM   #22
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Sales guy take a do not proceed recommendation from me, changes the spreadsheet to reflect unrealistically high numbers that can only be achieved if we were all smoking crack and pot at the same time and forward the numbers to upper management as if I had come up with the numbers.
You have to learn to distribute such spreadsheets as pdf files. Your Excel may have that feature on the tool bar already.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:51 AM   #23
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Based on my experience, what you describe is the Standard American Dysfunctional Organization. It usually doesn't get much better than that, although it usually doesn't get much worse than that either. The only solution I've found that really works is to become financially independent and retire early.
That's a pretty sad outlook and not representative in my experience. In 31 years I've never had a work situation as bad as OP describes. And I can't remember a friend, acquaintance or family member over all those years, working at another company, who found themselves in a work situation as bad as OP describes. I've probably been lucky and I have no doubt toxic work environments exist, but to say what OP describes is 'standard' or 'it usually doesn't get much better than that' are overly pessimistic IMO...
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:06 AM   #24
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You have to learn to distribute such spreadsheets as pdf files. Your Excel may have that feature on the tool bar already.
Yeah, I'm learning why Excel has so many hide and do not format features.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:04 PM   #25
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I agree that it is not business of Buns what the manager was doing for 2 months, there may well have been health care issues that the manager didn't want to discuss. That absence was the manager's superior to control.

It is the totality of the entire situation that is troubling. Frankly large corporations have no mercy on groups that do not perform, and they don't like tattle-tales.

You are worried and unhappy. Very discretely start a job hunt yesterday. When you give notice, if they ask for an exit interview, tell management that you are too busy at the moment but will schedule it as soon as possible. Give yourself a month or so to cool off, then schedule your exit interview with the person who you think needs to know what you know.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:35 PM   #26
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Buns - Don't think you are alone in hitting two in a row. The job before the one I resigned from in 2004 was a start-up and the CEO was using company funds for personal stuff and using company personnel and space to run one of his other small businesses. I did my best to inform the board of directors but they didn't listen to me...until it was too late and they realized he made self-serving decisions that cost them millions of their money and their friends' money. I worked there for a very long 4 years.

I was a bit surprised when the next job (the one I resigned from after 6 months) had some ethically challenged management also. I had lunch with the CEO (3 levels up from me) and told him of my concerns but there wasn't a lot he could do because my boss and his boss were as powerful as the CEO (the 3 had a long history together in several companies). Experience told me the only thing that was going to change was me so I got the heck out of there. I now work in a family-owned business for people that are honest and ethical.
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Old 05-26-2008, 01:30 PM   #27
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That's a pretty sad outlook and not representative in my experience. In 31 years I've never had a work situation as bad as OP describes. And I can't remember a friend, acquaintance or family member over all those years, working at another company, who found themselves in a work situation as bad as OP describes. I've probably been lucky and I have no doubt toxic work environments exist, but to say what OP describes is 'standard' or 'it usually doesn't get much better than that' are overly pessimistic IMO...
I've had a few toxic work situations similar to what the OP describes over a career that has spanned three decades.

In one case, the first question everyone asked openly when anything went wrong was "Who can we blame?" The president of the company was also its founder and was a nice and intelligent person, but his business leadership skills left much to be desired. Because he owned a majority of the stock, no one dared challenge him when he was wrong; people took it out on each other instead. Unfortunately, there was a recession going on during the time I worked there, which meant getting out smoothly was not an option. My experience there turned out to be good for my resume because it lead to bigger and better things elsewhere, so I'm glad I paid my dues and moved on.

In another case, the company was a startup that was understaffed and overworked (as many startups are). Much of the work that got done was only 90% complete because people were stretched to their limit. Then a new manager came in who, with senior management's blessing, decided to focus on the 10% shortfall rather than the 90% that had been getting done due to people going the extra mile. People started covering their butts and the amount of work that got done going forward dropped a lot because no one wanted to stick their neck out anymore. It was after this discouraging experience (which occured after a string of discouraging experiences) that I became a contractor and resolved never again would I become a direct employee of any company.

Perhaps these and other places where I've worked were normal and my lack of political skills was what caused me to feel chewed up and spit out. But the good news is that they forced me to figure out how to become financially independent for my own survival. As an investor in publicly-traded securities, I'm now one of the owners of Corporate America and all of these nice hard-working people are working for me and paying for my early semi-retirement.
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:36 PM   #28
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Thanks everyone for the replies and PMs. I appreciate everyone's thoughtful replies. This is why I'm on the board. It's like having my own board of directors for my conscience and sanity.

I don't believe that there is outright stealing going on. Improprieties, yes, but in a large company, you don't want to give anyone a reason to question your spending especially during a year we probably are going to fall 25% short of our goals. If we were still independent, I wouldn't worry as much because, hey, that's why we're independent. If we spend ourselves to bankruptcy, then we'll pay the price by being out on the street.

I think the best route is to start looking. Coming home everyday with words like audit and investigation on my mind isn't something I want to experience long term.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:02 PM   #29
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But the good news is that they forced me to figure out how to become financially independent for my own survival.
The military makes it pretty easy to follow the career planning guides and, if you do what your assignment officer suggests, you can blithely be led by the nose through 20 years. A good boss will make sure that you're thinking about the next assignment and your long-term plans and will help you work through the assignment process for your next tour.

However the real self-directed learning begins with the first bad boss. The first lesson is to never leave your career planning in the hands of your supervisors...
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