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I am a project manager.  Last year and early part of this year I developed several health problems which hit me at about the same time.  Despite this I tried to continue to work on my job.  I was able to deliver 2 projects in record time last year but at the expense of my health not getting any better.

This year I was assigned to work on a project of larger scale, but the company re-orged the department and one of my peers who I have had a "tense" relationship with since day 1 was promoted.

Part of what has rubbed me the wrong way with him is his being for emotional, his tendency to demean people, raise his voice, treat everybody like they are padding all their work.  On one occasion while I was waiting for a meeting to start he was being difficult with a peer and he said to me: "I am not nasty just to you - I am nasty to everybody."  His overall attitude has made the current project very difficult - he keeps changing priorities, putting my team on different tracks and then blaming me for any delays in front of peers and business users.

This is driving me nuts and my health is beginning to deteriorate again and I have not been sleeping well and coming in late.  He used this as an opportunity to report this problem to the department head without talking to me or my manager that I was not complying with company attendance policy. The department head called me in a reprimanded me for not following policy and put me on probation.

I am not sure how to deal with this character.

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks

SteveAnderson's picture

  1. Has a doctor diagnosed your medical problems?
  2. Does your company have an employee assistance program? 

I struggled with a timeliness issue years ago due to sleeping through my alarms (yes, plural - it was very frustrating) and it got to the point my supervisor was about to give me a letter of reprimand.  After speaking with my doctor, it turns out one of my medications was causing me to have a form of narcolepsy.  I brought in the documentation and made an EAP representative aware of it and made my supervisor aware of it and that I had contacted EAP.

It doesn't fix your relationship with this individual but I think getting your documentation in order and appealing the probation (if possible) should start now if this is solely related to your medical issue.

--Steve

jhbchina's picture

First, ABQ gave good advise about using your Doctor and EAP. These records will go a long way if they terminate you and need to prove that they discriminated vs you for health reasons. These records will be need to appeal a denial of unemployment claim, which is on the rise due to companies trying to lower their liabilities, and more serious civil action in the court system.

Now on to that Nasty boss. He is not going to change, and for whatever reason, the chain of command tolerates his actions and does not ask him to change. So he won't.

First look for allies in the company that can help you. Second, if you see him act out to you or someone else, and it has the slightest hint of PC incorrectness, go to HR with it. If that person tells a dirty joke, makes a racial statement, drop it on HR. Put him on the defensive. The downside is you risk being noted as a whiner, and could find it's way to your next potential employer.

Third, DOCUMENT, every conversation with a book just related to your discussions with him. Date and time of very exchange needs to be recorded, every email, and phone conversation. Take extra time to prepare for each planned meeting, so you can show that you wanted to focus on the work and he went off topic. Make sure he sees you writing everything down. BE a very active listener. Be very polite, and when he goes off, respond with, "I'm sorry, what do you find funny about what I just said, or, How is your response "and reflect back and paraphrase" related to my comments, or " What did I say that makes you feel you need to raise your voice to me". Then write it down in your book., raised his voice when I asked"xxxxx".

Time to get your finances in order., tighten those relationships in your network, rewrite the resume. In the end you will leave, unless they move you to another department (which is leaving as well)

Overall your health is just now worth it.

You may contact me directly to share more specific concerns and details, I will be glad to help fight the office bully.

jhbchina's picture

First, ABQ gave good advise about using your Doctor and EAP. These records will go a long way if they terminate you and need to prove that they discriminated vs you for health reasons. These records will be needed to appeal a denial of unemployment claim, which is on the rise due to companies trying to lower their liabilities, and more serious civil action in the court system.

Now on to that Nasty boss. He is not going to change, and for whatever reason, the chain of command tolerates his actions and does not ask him to change. So he won't.

First look for allies in the company that can help you. Second, if you see him act out to you or someone else, and it has the slightest hint of PC incorrectness, go to HR with it. If that person tells a dirty joke, makes a racial statement, drop it on HR. Put him on the defensive. The downside is you risk being noted as a whiner, and could find it's way to your next potential employer.

Third, DOCUMENT, every conversation with a book just related to your discussions with him. Date and time of very exchange needs to be recorded, every email, and phone conversation. Take extra time to prepare for each planned meeting, so you can show that you wanted to focus on the work and he went off topic. Make sure he sees you writing everything down. BE a very active listener. Be very polite, and when he goes off, respond with, "I'm sorry, what do you find funny about what I just said, or, How is your response "and reflect back and paraphrase" related to my comments, or " What did I say that makes you feel you need to raise your voice to me". Then write it down in your book., raised his voice when I asked"xxxxx".

Time to get your finances in order., tighten those relationships in your network, rewrite the resume. In the end you will leave, unless they move you to another department (which is leaving as well)

Overall your health is just noy worth it.

Modified final comment 7/11 based on others comments here.

You may contact me directly to share more specific concerns and details, I will be glad to help naviagte your terrain till you find a solution vs the office bully. Others are right, you cannot win a battle with your manager. However you can protect yourself and your self-esteem during the process.

rwwh's picture

I assume you have listened to the 5-part cast on demeaning bosses?

http://www.manager-tools.com/2009/02/bad-boss-1-angry-and-demeaning-boss...

I can summarize one important lesson from that cast: do not try to win a battle with your boss in the organization.

Of course you are the only one that can apply this to your own situation.

creatifire's picture

Folks,

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I greatly appreciate your suggestions.

I will do my best to apply what you have suggested,

If you have any other suggestions that would be great.

Thanks again

creatifire's picture

I wanted to get your advice on whether it makes sense or adds credibility to my case if I record conversations and/or meetings where this manager is in attendance?

Also do you know if there is any legal recourse I could take if this persists or worsens?

Thanks

rwwh's picture

Creatifire,

I am sure you are having a very hard time. Nobody here can help you directly with that. We can try to help you keep a clear mind about your life.

Please remember that if you fight hard, you may win the battle but you will still lose the war:

  • What fun is it to work at a place where you managed to stay by winning a legal battle? 
  • And how good is that legal battle going to look when in the future you are looking for new employment?

 

jhbchina's picture

Creatifire,

RWWH is dead on. It won't be fun and you will be at the end of the line in your career there and possibly at other place. So if you go to court, WIN BIG, so you can start your own firm or not work at all. BIG is 10 million or more.

That said, remember the company has deeper pockets than you and can fight a long detracted case. They could dismiss you during the process, and then you have to pay legal fees from your savings while having to find a job. NOT a fun place to be. It could take years to get through the court system.

Do your best to manage the short term headache till you leave in a professional manner. In today's economy, you will probably be there at least two years unless they send you walking. The sooner you accept that you have to leave the easier it will be to do it.

Good luck balancing your challenge.

JHB

bug_girl's picture

Definitely keep records, but prepare to use them mainly to negotiate a good severance package if the manager doesn't change.

And he probably won't.

I went through a similar issue some time ago when my boss discovered I had epilepsy. Apparently he had all sorts of ideas about what epilepsy was--all of them wrong--and decided I was a safety risk. He actually required me to post on my office door instructions on what to do if I was having a seizure, and details of what a seizure would look like.  I also was banned from driving any of our vehicles, and had to do a whole host of other silly things (no working with pointy objects, etc.)

If you look at that link above, imagine having a post on your door that so that the first impression that people have of you is that you might start drooling or hallucinate--and then trying to get work done. Or not be treated like a freak.

Of course, it IS legal for me to drive, and I'm perfectly safe to work with people, because my seizures are well controlled by medication. (Frustratingly, because my seizures are controlled by medication, I am not actually considered 'disabled" in the US, per court rulings on ADA. )

If you just accept that the manager is a schmuck, and work to survive/move on, that's probably the best you can hope for, alas.  You should also gather documentation of your condition to prove you need an accommodation, or to at least negotiate to get off probation/new responsibilities. 

More advice: Don't assume that any of the medical information you give to your employer will stay confidential. Even if the law requires that.

RWWH is spot on--you may be able to stay, but you won't be happy working with this person.  I walked away from a great job, but I have no regrets now.

It sounds like this boss is not pleasant to work with under normal circumstances.
Do you have any allies in your company for a lateral move?