Insecure boss makes work hell – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

I work at a small software company. Our manager recently left for a position at a rival firm. Everyone on our team liked him. He was always clear about what he expected from us and set high standards, but he gave us a lot of leeway in other aspects of the job as long as we met our goals and met company guidelines. His replacement is young, brash, and “by the book.” He seems to want to impress the owners with how well he can “handle” us. Our morale has tanked, and resentment runs high.

The new boss overheard a longtime employee make a snarky remark about his so-called “leadership” and was immediately let go without an opportunity to apologize or any regard for her value to the company or to our team. She indicated to me that night that she was considering a wrongful termination lawsuit. Wanting to make things better for both sides, I took it upon myself to ask my boss to reconsider (not telling him of her plans) and was basically laughed out of the office. To me, this implied that he found her as replaceable as a sponge. I’m angry enough to want to leave the job myself at this point, but my prospects here are limited. Should I stay and tough it out? Should I go to another job, even though it doesn’t pay as much? I have dreamed about starting my own business in this same field, but don’t know where I would find the money for starting up. What do you suggest?

Annoyed in Anaheim

Dog Abby paw print


Dear Annoyed,

You are in a difficult situation that requires patience and finesse. I am not good at either of those things, but I do have some suggestions.

The Sniper's Guide to Leadership by Mélanie HopeOf course, you could always buy Mom’s book The Sniper’s Guide to Leadership and casually leave it on your boss’s desk when he’s away. He may read it. Mom even recommends dog-earing (I love that phrase) the pages you most want him to read.

Mom says that it sounds like your new boss is insecure. Many newer bosses hide their insecurity by not allowing new ideas and overly punishing those that may go against anything they say. You may have to feed your boss’s ego before he becomes willing to hear you out. You will have to constantly stroke something called his ego. Personally, I like a scratch behind the ears, but Mom says this will work better. Mom says that whenever you offer an idea, try to make it sound like he came up with it, and then praise him for his ingenuity. Always speak in terms of benefits, and be prepared to watch him take full credit for things you and your team did. Eventually, your boss will come to trust you and trust himself more. When you help him and the team succeed, you will find that he eases up quite a bit as he becomes more secure in his position.

Unless he is just a jerk. Then there is not much you can do.

If these things are too tiring or do not work, you may just have to consider leaving. Make sure that you are honest with HR in your exit interview. You may not be the first to complain, and you certainly will not be the last. Do not quit when you are emotional. Bide your time and leave only when you have another job to go to.

If you want to start your own business, that is wonderful! Mom always says to pursue your dreams with everything you have, as long as they are realistic and you are willing to put in the work. She also says to not leave your current job while you work on your next. The last thing any entrepreneur needs is to be homeless. Mom works many, many jobs and is always busy. She says that if you want to work for yourself, you will work harder than you ever have in your life, so that is something to consider. You have to get up early in the morning and work late into the night for about half the pay as you would get at a corporation. When and if you do finally become successful, people will act like you did it overnight, so be ready to feel very alone a lot of the time. I am pointing out the bad in starting your own business because, a lot of times, people only see the good in things they want and only the bad in things they do not want.

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