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Advice sought on dealing with a very difficult manager...

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Arkey, Sep 14, 2020 at 7:44 PM.

  1. Arkey

    Arkey UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Hi all, I have a new manager who seems intent on making my working life hell.

    Main issue is her hostility and argumentative nature. She would argue that grass is blue if someone told her it was green. Even when clear unequivocal evidence is presented to her on a point under dispute, she will find something to argue about, and it never ends. The latest one was her being unhappy about how a word was spelled in a report she read - I wish I could say I'm making this up but I'm not.

    I got a dictionary out to show her the spelling and she actually asked me to email the publisher of the dictionary to "explore the possibility" the word could be spelled the way she spells it. I sent the email (which was politely worded, short and factual) and was surprised to get a response from someone with lots of letters after their name, who confirmed the dictionary spelling was correct, and kindly asking that we not waste their time with such enquiries

    She then accused me of being negative in my email to the publisher, stating if I had been more positive, they might have given a different answer! This was followed by a 30 minute meeting in which she spoke non stop, literally, for all of it. She then sent me an email on our corporate values, reminding me that I need to start following them and basically making me out to be a trouble maker.

    Anyone have any idea on how to deal with a person like this? I've tried not responding (then get accused of not communicating), sending short, polite emails in which case I'm accused of being not fully engaging, and responding in full which results in back and forth emails that can,and do, go on for days.

    I sometimes spend more time responding to her emails than I do on my actual job. She then has the nerve to question my productivity and has asked me to account - down to the minute - my activity on randomly selected days, sometimes weeks or even months ago. And then come more questions from her. Other people have seen email threads and have said it's ridiculous and they have never been asked to account for their time this way.

    Sadly, managers in my place back each other up so a grievance etc is out the question (plus the union is frankl useless). I am looking to leave for another job which is the main answer, but Covid is slowing this down.

    If anyone has any effective strategies I could use in the meantime on how to deal with a person like this I'd be much appreciative.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 7:44 PM By: Arkey Member since: Nov 27, 2019
  2. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,343 1,265
    You are on the wrong forum. I think most of us on here are self employed / own small businesses because we would refuse to take such nonsense even for a second. I could certainly tell you what I would do in your situation, but you wouldn't have a job at the end of it and the forum swear filter would get a good workout.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 7:55 PM By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
  3. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,733 554
    Time to find a new job.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 8:01 PM By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
  4. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    24,305 2,949
    Question is what do you want to do?

    If you want to keep going as you are thats one thing.
    Or escalate the issues.

    Very easy without knowing the personalities involved to suggest standing up to the manager. It can be done.
    It can also make matters worse.

    My advice would be to do your job. Not respond to all the emails as they come in, do a response end of day and make it no more than a few lines in total for all the emails.
    Half hour rant? Get a notebook out and start planning your next holiday.

    Justifying your actions through the day? Not seen that in 30 years and was someone on probation who was in danger of having probation extended. Never seen it used in a job outside of probation. Am guessing the manager is in their 50s?
    That I'd simply not bother with for the manager. Ignore the instruction.
    And when asked 'are you listening to me?' respond 'no' and back to work.

    Very easy to suggest such matters without knowing the people concerned. However going on as you are does not seem like a worthwhile use of time.

    And its possible for some personality types to back off when the game isn't fun any more.
    Though equally a few would up the ante.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 9:01 PM By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  5. paulears

    paulears UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    4,468 1,176
    There are loads of things you could do, but the question is always that doing many of them has potential consequences. People like this often seem to have asbestos trousers and nothing touches them. Being slightly devious I am the type to collect evidence and not cause waves before I need to. Nowadays there are so many ways to do this - your phone is the simplest. Record some of the bad behaviour and type up a transcript. If you're even more devious, then you can perhaps predict some things that will cause the bad behaviour, and collect more evidence. At some point you will have had enough - at this stage you make the difficult decision to go over the manager's head to their superior and explain what is going on. Me, I'd not reveal the evidence because it's common to try to dilute it and blame it on you - your lack of commitment to the job role, your inability to handle stress and conflict etc etc - at some point you show your hand if they fight back. This assumes you have real evidence that to a stranger, supports your case.

    Of course you could just ask them outright to just stop the behaviour because it upsets you and you know it's wrong/unfair/unjustified and unprofessional - only you know how they will react.

    If you decide enough is enough, then confrontation is the only solution, and this can be dangerous. You might then get suspended while senior people investigate. They might not get suspended, depending on policy? Being suspended can be stressful and even when you know you are right, there's always that worry. It happened to me once - I got sent home and told I had to wait while it was investigated. It took ten days. I got called in and interviewed and only then was I told what the allegation really was about. Totally misunderstood and the suspension was immediately lifted and while not getting an apology, I won the battle (so I thought). The big boss was very annoyed he sort of lost, and I noticed increasing changes in my job role. Nice bits going to others and I picked up horrible stuff. Eventually I hated my job - so I left. The big boss didn't come to my leaving do, and I think he was pleased I'd gone. What I really did to cause this was to bring something up at a minuted large meeting that scuppered his favourite plan, and it had to appear in the minutes. From that moment, I was doomed. Key people were briefed unofficially to 'keep and eye on me' and report anything that could be used against me. A middle Manager, my boss, reported weekly to him. What did I do to get suspended? I made an inappropriate comment about the woman's menstrual cycle. What happened at the meeting was it was revealed a colleague walking past the room I was in heard me telling a joke - "what do you say to a woman on her period?" Nothing, absolutely nothing. That got me suspended. What got me off was when it was revealed we were actually in a rehearsal for a comedy of 18 plus content, and if we'd get away with this kind of joke to an audience of mainly men, probably well oiled with booze. Once the Head of Finance, asked to sit in with the head of HR heard this, he stood up stopping the entire thing - saying that I'd been suspended for doing my job, and walked out.

    My reason for telling that story is so you know what you're potentially starting - so you really need to be tough and have the evidence so when **** hits fan you have the right cards in your hand.

    Good luck.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 9:54 PM By: paulears Member since: Jan 7, 2015

    JEREMY HAWKE UKBF Legend Full Member

    5,169 1,764
    Somebody that shares my opinion on this subject
    Most of us have never worked for anybody or never will so why ask :confused::confused::confused:

    If anybody gives me any lip they are getting chase with a railway sleeper that is quite warn out making it easy for me to carry

    This advice should help :cool:
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 5:54 AM By: JEREMY HAWKE Member since: Mar 4, 2008
  7. Bob Morgan

    Bob Morgan UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    940 251
    WALK! - Immediately!
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 8:03 AM By: Bob Morgan Member since: Apr 15, 2018
  8. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    33,307 9,850
    Tell them you aren’t going to respond to the emails. If she wants any form of meeting it is to be documented and you will bring a witness.

    Don’t give her a chance to dictate anything.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 8:10 AM By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
  9. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Legend Full Member

    10,222 4,220
    @Arkey, you are working in a useless department doing useless and pointless tasks for a useless line-manager, a job you acquired by virtue of having a useless degree in a useless subject.

    You have elsewhere posted that you want to get a job doing something useful - and that is eminently understandable! Unfortunately, you have no useful skills.

    There are a thousand jobs and business opportunities out there for those with useful skills. For example, being able to repair valve circuitry, roofing, programming in C++, providing companies with import/export services and even something as obscure as model building for film effects departments - and the one thing that stands out in all the many, many gaps in the employment market is that almost none of these jobs or opportunities require formal qualifications.

    So you have a choice - you can either find or develop that skill that others are prepared to pay for, or you can follow Paul's excellent advice on how to outmaneuver your idiot and time-waster of a manager - which, let's face it, can't be too difficult.

    P.S. And in the meantime, develop a sense of humour and a thick skin, so the next time your idiot manager makes a spelling mistake, you don't correct her, but just laugh at her.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 8:55 AM By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  10. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,388 3,834
    It takes 2 to argue. Don't bother arguing, allow her to get on with it.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:17 AM By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
  11. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,937 699
    You are probably on borrowed time, fight if you really want to stay, start looking to move if not.Even if you win, you might end up getting the push shortly afterwards.

    As mentioned get documented evidence, emails, memos, recordings etc, but most importantly witnesses if possible. Loads of cheap recorders, audio and visual, on the web. Give this idiot a few weeks to hang themselves.

    I had a similar problem 35years ago, times were different then, I sorted it out with the manager off company grounds one evening. Enjoyed giving him a beating, he got the message and changed his ways.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:36 AM By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
  12. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,242 382
    Apparently, lots of people have been off work for the past few months and somehow the world hasn't fallen apart? Posts like the above are a useful reminder of how many people are employed in jobs that need not exist at all.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:45 AM By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
  13. Bob Morgan

    Bob Morgan UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    940 251
    Rather like an old sign that I still have in the Back Room! - "Please do not ask for Credit as a 'Smack in the Mouth' often offends!"
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:45 AM By: Bob Morgan Member since: Apr 15, 2018
  14. Bob Morgan

    Bob Morgan UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    940 251
    It always surprises me why the 'Unemployable' always seem to 'Bubble to the Surface!'
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 9:47 AM By: Bob Morgan Member since: Apr 15, 2018
  15. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,343 1,265
    The term you are thinking of is 'civil servants'.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 10:10 AM By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
  16. Alison Moore

    Alison Moore UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    535 94
    Is she like this with everyone though, or just you? Maybe she is misinterpreting you, and think that you're the one with the problem. I had a 'manager' (she was't really my manager, but she thought she was) like this years ago, I tried speaking to her about it, it fell on deaf ears. I tried speaking to our actual manager about it, he sympathized but didn't want to rock the boat. So I then left the company. It's difficult to recommend this course of action at the moment though in this current climate, and only you can decide whether it's worth putting up with her or to walk away.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 2:11 PM By: Alison Moore Member since: Aug 4, 2016
  17. LanceUk

    LanceUk UKBF Regular Free Member

    110 36
    Are you still working for a local authority? If so, they will (or should have) a well defined policy for employee greivances and this should be followed. But beforehand, as mentioned above, gather your evidence, because the last thing most public authorities waant is bad press, especially around bullying its employees. Once your evidence is gathered, start the formal process (the policy should nothave any informal requirements apart from wording such as if you are comfortable doing so, speak to the manager in the first instance). With enough evidence, they will fear this may leak and should deal with it properly.

    Not only that, if you do walk as a result, you have the evidence why, which in the absence of a justification can be used for a claim of discrimination, harassment or even unfair dismissal. I have no real idea of employment law, but I am led to believe the latter is hard to prove. Again, however, the local authority will not want the threat of any action as it will result in bad press.

    Re the previous thread you started as intimated by @The Byre, such a specialised degree is probably a waste outside of local authorities and will limit your employment prospects, especially in the current market. However, if it is an accredited degree, consider doing a Grad Dip in Law (natural progression?), which from memory is a year full time or 2 years part time and that will give you a degree that is more general and can be used for many things.. Maybe the Local Authority will provide financial support and study leave to assist, too.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 10:56 PM By: LanceUk Member since: Jan 8, 2018
  18. Aniela

    Aniela UKBF Regular Free Member

    329 41
    @Arkey has publicly stated he has Aspergers. When you take that into consideration, along with this thread. It all makes sense.

    What he's stated sounds more like a side-effect of his Aspergers. The whole 'thing' of being correct and needing to ensure the truth is accepted as the truth, plays on his mind more than being able to just ignore it.

    It's just something he needs to be more aware of and try to manage better, or the managers understanding his autism. If the employer doesn't know already, he needs to let them know really.

    If his line manager does know about his Aspergers, she's breaking discrimination laws here. She would require to have an understanding of his Aspergers and let pedantic things like this pass. That would not be an unreasonable adjustment to make.

    What you've stated to him though, is pure bullying. You would be the sort of employer that would be dangerous to work for.
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 3:14 AM By: Aniela Member since: Mar 28, 2020
  19. simon field

    simon field UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    4,753 1,747
    Get real.
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 6:48 AM By: simon field Member since: Feb 4, 2011
  20. SillyBill

    SillyBill UKBF Regular Free Member

    245 126
    I don't have Aspergers but being picked on for a dictionary correct spelling would send me into a tailspin too. To be asked to contact a dictionary and then the insinuation that his tone changes what can only be indisputable fact is not even absurd, it is far beyond that. If it does go further I'd have thought that incident itself is so ridiculous it is a serious own goal for the manager, shows the knives are out for this individual.
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 6:35 PM By: SillyBill Member since: Dec 11, 2019