So I have mixed feelings...

I am a retail manager and have been with the company for 5 years. My boss (let's call her J) who oversees 6 store locations has also been with the company for 5 years. About a year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to apply for a management position and got the job after being an sales associate for 3+ years. Up until four months ago, I was struggling to manage a difficult, alpha female, controlling individual. Let's call her, M. Throughout my first year as a manager, I realized how much this individual did not respect me. She never completed her "honey-do" list and always found other things to work on rather than what I specifically asked her to do. I talked to J and asked for some assistance, since M responded better to her. The reason? They were friends. So I talked with M about my concerns and when that didn't work, J stepped in...or so she said. Bottom line, there was no improvement in her behavior and even though I saw it important to write M up, J deemed it as unnecessary. I pushed through it until one day there was a blow up between my other employee, B and M. Now, we tried to settle things but the air was stiff between those two. It was a very hostile environment. A few weeks later, there was a second blow-up. Now, these two issues were a result of something M did that were previously discussed as unacceptable. M got angry and became very childish and walked out/quit minutes after the argument. J was away on vacation at the time, so all I could do to clue her in was call her and explain it in great detail. She seemed very concerned...until she had to call M to get her side of the story. After that, M was in the right and as far as everyone else goes, we could have "done things differently." Now here is my issue- As soon as I found out J had to talk to M to get her side of the story, I immediately felt disrespected and insulted because as her immediate employee, the gal she chose to be a manager, she did not trust. These feelings of distrust, I felt on many occasions, J made me feel like I was wrong 90% of the time. Her nepotistic response to those she felt were friends allowed them to get away with other things and kept certain employees "safe." There were also several employees that were fired over the years for no good reason other than the fact that J simply did not like them. Yet when those employees expressed their concerns about the individuals that did wrong (which were J's friends) she denied it all. No one stood a chance if they wanted to stand up to J. Otherwise, they were likely to not have a job within a month.

Now here is the big issue: A week ago, J gave me word that she needed help and didn't have time to train anybody. She expressed that she just did not have enough time and they are working on opening a new store come January....Guess who she hired back as a floater? M! I was livid! At the least, she could have made an attempt to talk with me and B to assure us that things would be different before making her decision. So over Thanksgiving, I let my feelings get the best of me and I contacted the CEO of the company. I couldn't go directly to HR because of course, her friend is the one in charge there. My reasons for contacting the CEO were/are: I have had so many issues with J in the past, I feel that other employees including myself do not feel that we can express our concerns to her without being fired afterwards, and on several occasions I have seen her openly drink alcohol in my shop. The issue with M being hired back pushed me over the edge and I had to do something. I just didn't want to lose my wonderful employee, B. And I have a feeling she would quit. So I met with the CEO on Monday after Thanksgiving and he is more concerned about J being under the influence on the job. Now I have to go into a meeting in a few days to discuss all of this with HR, the CEO, J and myself. I have no proof other than possibly being able to get a few employees to write a letter for me stating what they know...I am worried that if nothing is done after I confess in front of all of them what I know, that J will still be employed and treat me horribly up until one of us moves on to a job somewhere else. What do I do? Should I stop the meeting or ask for them to address their concerns to J in confidentiality so I don't have to deal with the wrath? Or am I too far in to pull back now? I know I should have documented everything but unfortunately considering the past, I didn't think anything would have been done about it. I am a young manager, 24 to be exact but I know where I stand on issues as strongly as this and I believe my morals are higher than the expectations I have for myself. Aside from being right or wrong on how I handled things, I can't help but feel uncomfortable and a little guilty if this causes J to lose her job...a few weeks before Christmas.

AManagerTool's picture

You are not responsible for another persons behavior. J probably needs help and has not been forced to face that situation.  Whatever happens, it's her choices that generate those consequences not yours.  In the long run, you will probably have done her a favor although she won't view it as such immediately.  

Documentation is great for standard situations like systematic feedback for performance issues.  Of course, documentation is necessary but not as the primary concern here.  We are all responsible for everyone safety and health while on the job.  Someone drinking on the job is an act now, document later kind of problem.  This couldn't be more true in a public facing retail environment.

A bit of advice as well, I wouldn't have CEO'ed anyone for any other reason than the drinking.  Bringing a senior leader your problems with your boss is career limiting behavior.  You will be forced to 'work it out' and you will be labeled as someone who can't handle working with people. Additionally, your drunk boss will more than likely make your life hell while everyone else discounts the drunk boss reports as coming from a disgruntled employee.  If your boss is evil, quitting after finding a new job has always been the best advice I ever decided to live by (Thanks Mark).  I might add that it has NEVER had to come to that.

Frequently, the problem in my career has been me even though I thought it was my boss, co-workers or whatever.  As a result, whenever I have a problem like that the first place I look is in the mirror and that's usually where I find the problem actually lies.  That said, you shouldn't have to put up with a drunk boss...ever.