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My boss seems to hate me and I wonder why!

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Question - (6 January 2018) 4 Answers - (Newest, 7 January 2018)
A female Austria age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Am I wrong to think that my boss has some kind of a problem with me?

Here's some background:

I've worked under her for over 7 years we never had any arguments, but I noticed that she does not treat me the same way she threats others.

First of all sooner or later she gets with everyone on the first name basis. She's the one who initiates this even with interns who come for only a short period of time. She never did this with me. Even though her own boss (who is by extension my über-boss ;) asked me at some point to be on the first name basis with him, since that's the atmosphere in the whole firm.

Secondly, she never praises my work and points out only, errors that I have made, when I make them. Sometimes she even jumps the gun and sends an email, and puts her boss in the copy, and when I point out that there was a misunderstanding, she never apologizes. The latest case. She said that I have made "a lot of mistakes" in an email she sent to her boss as well. When I checked what she was actually talking about I found out that it was actually 2 minor (it's not my assessment, these cases are categorized that way) mistakes out of 379 cases, which I was supposed to go over in less than two days since it had been urgent. But her boss won't be bothered to do what I did. He just read " a lot of". I wouldn't mind her criticizing my work had she stuck to the facts. I even wouldn't mind her not saying "thank you, solid work with the following mistakes:".

I'm pointing this out because she NEVER criticizes anyone else that way. Ten months ago one my colleagues has destroyed six months worth of work on several cases. My boss wasn't happy about it, but she didn't make an effort to write or say anything.

Whenever she can she chooses other people or herself over me for the more interesting tasks, events... I'm not only qualified for, but that I'm paid to do. I mean, even though I don't think it's a smart business move, I understand that she wanted to go to France at all cost and represent our firm, even though she doesn't speak English well, let alone French - my native language.

She even excludes me from the meetings I'm supposed to attend and later says that she had simply forgotten to invite me. She once even LIED that I hadn't been able to come and when I asked her why, she said she knew I was going to be busy.

I have been aware of the "symptoms" for a very long time now. I just didn't understand WHY. And that lack of an apparent reason made me doubt the facts. I still don't understand why, but I can't ignore the situation any more.

I bet that all of my colleagues, her boss as well, have notices this. A few of them have commented, some even joked that I must have run over her dog or something...

So, am I imagining this and what could I do?

Thank you all!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 January 2018):

Thank you so much for your replies.

Unfortunately our firm is small and we do not have HR. A lot of my colleagues do not even have an open-ended contract. I do, which gives me some leverage, since my boss cannot just not renew my contract the next time it expires.

I've never thought much about the fact that I'm a foreigner, but I see how it can make some people uncomfortable. No that they're right though.

As far as I could hear or see, none of my colleagues had to stand up for themselves because she never put them in the position she puts me in from time to time. I've just remembered than one of the colleagues said, after one of those "I forgot to invite her to a meeting" episodes, that I was like a Cinderella - good to do hard work but not to go to a ball. He thought it was a good joke.

Anyway, I'm ready to leave if need be.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (6 January 2018):

Ciar agony auntI'm guessing you may already do this but I suggest you document everything, keep a personal file (a secret one you keep at home preferably) then ask her about it via email, remembering of course to CC the uber boss.

Be specific and limit yourself to a couple of examples (rather than dozens of them). The trip to France might be one since you're a native speaker.

Of course, there is the risk that this will back fire and your uber boss will see you as a complainer, so get your resume ready and start looking elsewhere.

If you use the same tone in that email as you did here, I think you'll be fine. Perhaps ask it in a way that suggests you're trying to improve yourself.

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A male reader, Billy Bathgate United States + , writes (6 January 2018):

There is no way for us to say if you are imagining this.

But if we take you at your word it is long past time for you to have a talk with your boss’s boss about what is going on. I’m going to assume you can back these things up because you’ll need to. Don’t bad mouth your boss but explain to the big boss that you feel your direct supervisor’s actions are negativity affecting your career and ask for a transfer to another team if possible.

If that is not possible let the big boss know that you expect to be treated fairly and that means being assigned interesting and challenging projects. If he/she can’t do that then it may be time to take your talents elsewhere.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (6 January 2018):

When you're criticizing or pointing-out the faults or flaws of your boss, you're placing yourself in a very touchy situation. However; people are noticing her behavior which gives you some leverage. You live in a foreign nation; so it is difficult to determine what the labor-laws and regulations are, regarding treatment of employees. Here in the States, most people take their issues to a union-representative; or to their Human Resources Department.

You have to tread lightly and be discrete. There are people who do take a dislike for people for no apparent reason; and may abuse their authority by being petty and personal rather than professional. In your case, it's so obvious that people are taking notice.

If there are rules in-place that allow an employee to dispute your work-evaluations; or to offer your rebuttal when there are inaccuracies, you must use them. If there is a pattern to what seems more of a personal-attack than a true evaluation of your performance; you should make your feelings known to Human Resources. Your silence is more or less confirmation of her reports in their entirety; which goes into your employee records. Permanently!

If you have a right to file grievances; it's long overdue that you exercise your employee-rights.

You'll have to summon the courage to report your concerns to your Human Resources Director. You've allowed this to continue for years; so how have you survived in spite of her lies and inaccuracies? It isn't fair that her bosses just look the other way; while allowing her to make upper-management look disreputable and out of touch. It's bad for company morale. Other employees are watching; but others probably haven't stood for it like you have.

She has never been challenged, so she continues. You're intimidated by her authority; so she persistently goes after you. You're obviously a strong-willed person, and not easy to break. On the other-hand, you will not progress; because you're too submissive and fearful for your job.

Start applying and interviewing for new jobs. Have a backup plan in place in the event of a threat to your employment. She knows your potential, and may fear your advancement will challenge or endanger her own job. There may also be racist tactics or xenophobia at-play; if you are of different nationalities, religion, or ethnic-origins. Some resent foreigners securing employment they'd rather see go to their own kind; or to make room for a friend or family-member.

Consistently writing bad or mediocre reviews, and overlooking you for advancement; is often based on personal-prejudices, not performance. It also arises from bias that has nothing to do with the job. It's her way of pushing her personal-agenda to eventually get you fired, or make you quit. Slowly building a case, to make you look incompetent enough to justify and confirm her low opinion of your job-performance.

In the meantime; go back and printout all her emails and prepare a written personal-account addressing each of her disputed past work-reviews and disciplinary-actions to your best recollection. Your report should be to the point; and there should be details and facts to backup your statements.

Leave-out your personal-opinion of her. Keep it strictly professional.

You must prove there is a pattern. Just walking into HR making broad accusations will not fair well with her, and she will likely retaliate. When you have a documented account of what you're going through; that gives those reviewing your grievances substantive-facts and supporting-evidence; and they can relate from their own observations.

Prior to this undertaking, you may need to consult with a labor-attorney to learn your rights. It's her word against yours. She has authority and the company to back her up.

If her bosses sit-back and condone that type of management-style and misuse of authority; you're working for the wrong company. It might be time to seek new employment. If you receive no reward or acknowledgement for good work, it's difficult to maintain a good-attitude; and your job-performance will decline. Thus proving her evaluations to be true.

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