This week, we highlight two letters that talk about problems at the workplace.
I had an argument with my senior colleague recently. She is aged over 40. It all started when we had a small misunderstanding and she yelled at me, which left me annoyed and irritated. I then politely told her, “You do not have to raise your voice”.
Our company is a new company and our team is very small. There’re only five of us, including our boss. We should be able to handle issues like this and put our differences aside, but she clung on to her ego and refused to mend things.
This is not the first time she has done this and honestly, it is embarrassing when you’re being treated like this in front of others. No one deserves to be treated like this especially in a workplace where professionalism is practised. Even our boss has never raised his voice at us. I truly believe she does not respect her teammates and for me, respect is earned, not given.
Recently, things got worse when she tried to find fault with me on purpose. I lost my patience but still told her how I felt in a decent tone of voice. She, on the other hand, was very furious about the confrontation and started yelling and knocking on the table.
Our boss is always on the road on business trips, hence I did not want to bother him with this issue and decided to wait for the right time to address what had happened. Due to this, she tried to keep me out of the loop. When it came to my work, she bypassed me and discussed it with my colleague instead.
What should I do? We are not on talking terms and I have to work closely with her.
I am a self-supporting student aged 27. I decided to earn some side income to pay for my school fees because I did not want to burden my family. Work and studies have been challenging these few years but joyful at the same time. Life is not always about rainbows and butterflies, but everything went downhill after I started working at this place.
I work at a restaurant as a waiter. Other than my boss, I am the only front staff. My job scope covers a huge amount of work including food serving and preparation, table arrangement, cashier duty, taking orders from customers, and sometimes I would be told to wash dishes too.
I’ve been trying to handle all my responsibilities but I keep making mistakes. And when I do, my boss would scold and humiliate me in front of customers and staff, loud and clear every single time.
I’ve been going through this every day for six months now and I can feel it is getting worse by the day. I find myself surrounded by negative comments and I am drained.
My colleagues won’t talk to me because of this. Due to how I am being treated, I tend to think more before I act, and sometimes I end up with more mistakes. I feel like leaving this place for good, but every time I think of this, I worry about my bills. I am so frustrated and feel suffocated. I think he shouldn’t treat my mistakes with such negative remarks but instead, be a forgiving leader.
I want to get rid of this, to stop making mistakes but I have no idea how. I’ve never told my parents about this because I don’t want them to worry about a 27-year-old man. I have considered telling my friends about it but I didn’t because I don’t think they will understand.
You might think as a man, I have a low tolerance towards these workloads or working environment but I’ve never thought that my issues are too big. I believe someone in another part of the world has bigger issues than mine. Is changing a working environment my only option?
Sadly, very few bosses are trained for management. Some people have money and therefore appoint themselves as “boss” in their own company while others have a great skill, for example in sales or accounts, and are promoted to “boss” – a job that requires totally different skills! As a result, we have a lot of absolutely awful managers.
It’s made worse by a hierarchical system where anyone deemed higher up can disrespect anyone lower down. As a higher-up position can be based on job title, being older, being of a certain gender or race, or even on being hired before others, power crazy colleagues can make work a minefield.
J, your boss sounds like a bully. Yes, people make mistakes, especially in the F&B industry when they have 10 jobs to do instead of one. But he gets his kick from humiliating you in front of others. That’s nasty. It’s also super unlikely he’ll change.
Luckily for you, restaurants are dying of a lack of staff. Go and take a look at what’s out there. Don’t go as an employee, go as a customer. See how the boss handles her staff. If she’s decent, apply. If she’s not, move on.
Once you have another position lined up, hand in your notice. I suggest you do it on payday because your bully is bound to have a hissy fit. Take the money, walk away and don’t look back.
When you start the new job, ask for training. Not an “I’ll show you once only” but proper grounding. Once you have skills, you’ll make fewer mistakes and your confidence and self-esteem will grow.
Lost hope, you have a manager who’s not doing his job. He’s running around outside instead of managing his team. And if he can’t spot friction in a team of five, he’s falling down on just basic monitoring.
You have done a sterling job of affirmative sensible communication. Your colleague sounds most unprofessional. Banging on tables? That’s just unacceptable.
I suggest you document. Do everything by the book and keep a note of when you communicate and on what. When you have documented four to six episodes of bullying, leaving you out of the loop, or other unprofessional acts, ask to meet your boss. Hand over the diary and tell him he needs to sort it out.
Your boss should know that this is real trouble. One bad apple can create a toxic work culture that means super high staff turnover, poor results and in a start-up company, failure can hit really fast. If he’s good, he will step up and fix this.
But, if he’s not good, he’ll duck the issue or fail to resolve it. Then you either have to live with your very unprofessional colleague or move on. I have no idea how competitive your area is, so I can’t advise you. However, even if they’re paying you a zillion ringgit a month, I’d probably suggest you move on, simply because a bad work environment has such a bad effect on mental health.
But do stay until you have another job in hand. In this economic climate, it’s the sensible thing to do. Also, both J and Lost Hope, why not take some management courses? Having first-hand experience of lousy bosses, you should be able to do a lot better. I’ll be rooting for you, both.