My boss is becoming increasingly hard to work with. She is often argumentative and has temper issues, even at departmental meetings. I don’t look forward to going to work. Any advice for me?
A university colleague – a psychologist – once told me that, “All behavior makes sense once you know the cause.” This observation may encourage you as you reflect on the treatment you’ve been receiving from your boss.
At the outset, let me suggest that her conduct is almost certainly nothing about you – or any of your colleagues – for that matter.
The demands of her work may very well be creating a level of stress that she can no longer contain: and the people she works with are the “beneficiaries” of this pressure.
Perhaps her supervisor has recently issued some corporate goals which she believes are unattainable. She may also have a number of uncompleted tasks that are weighing her down.
She could have recently received a less than complementary annual evaluation and is now feeling insecure and worried that she may be demoted, even terminated.
Her frustration – expressed in anger – might also originate at home. A difficult spouse, and errant child, even an aging parent, can cause tensions. It is not uncommon for people to transport their personal issues to work.
I would sense from the way you have expressed yourself, that she has always been somewhat difficult to work for. In other words, she has an “edge” which may very well be her nature, her personality.
Nonetheless, it is not acceptable for you and your colleagues to have to endure her public tantrums. A toxic workplace is unacceptable and the situation must be resolved sooner rather than later.
Does she have a best friend at the office, perhaps someone she socializes with outside of the regular workday? I’d recommend you meet with that person – privately, of course – and share your concerns.
You should be specific in expressing your anxieties and encourage her (or him) to speak with your boss. (Your anonymity should be protected.)
Allow time to pass after this meeting and if there is no resolution – or some trend in that direction – be prepared to formalize your complaints in writing to the HR department or her supervisor.
Your appeal will have more impact if there are a number of employees who are willing to sign the memo. In fact, it would not be in your best interests to be the only employee to communicate with HR.
You are in a difficult situation and the fact you don’t look forward to going to work must be extremely taxing. Leaving your present employer may be an option but your first course of action should be to have the matter dealt for the benefit of everyone involved.