Q. I recently started my first job and I’m not sure what to do about my manager. “Ashley” has a mean temper and is often out of control. Just the other day, she got angry with a customer who was asking a lot of questions. When the woman got upset and refused to complete her purchase, Ashley threatened to call security.
Ashley often yells at employees and reprimands them in front of co-workers. She publicly accused one person of stealing when the problem had actually been caused by a computer error. When she heard another employee describing how she belittled him, she got mad and sent him home. Then she yelled at the rest of us for not defending her.
Even though three of us are assistant managers, we still walk on eggshells because we never know when Ashley will explode. Her temper has offended customers and caused employees to quit. Since I have never had a job before, I don’t know how to handle this situation. Is this the type of problem that people take to human resources?
A. This is a dreadful way to begin your career, so let me start by assuring you that most managers are not raving maniacs. Some of your bosses will be great and some only mediocre, but you are unlikely to encounter another Ashley. Putting her in a supervisory role was obviously a huge mistake.
Assuming that you work for an otherwise normal company, taking this issue to HR would definitely be appropriate. By alienating customers and driving away employees, Ashley has created serious problems for the business. If this store is a stand-alone operation, management may have no idea how much harm she is doing.
To increase credibility, all three assistant managers should participate in the HR meeting. Provide specific examples of the trouble caused by Ashley’s tantrums, just as you have done here. Management will need time to investigate, so don’t expect immediate action. But if nothing is done to stop Ashley’s reign of terror, then it’s time to start looking for your second job.
Q. I manage a retail operation that has lost a great deal of business to increased competition. When sales began dropping, the owner laid off a lot of employees, so I now spend most of my time on the sales floor instead of doing management tasks.
To make matters worse, the owner brought in two of his relatives who are obvious drug users. We have always had a strict drug-free workplace policy, so this was very upsetting. I had planned to make this my last job before retirement, but I’m beginning to think I should look elsewhere. Would that be a good idea?
A. I believe you’ve answered your own question. Competition is eroding your business, staff reductions have turned you into a salesperson, and the owner has begun employing known drug users. Since that hardly sounds like a recipe for job security, exploring other options would seem to be a wise move.
If this ailing company goes under, you will be forced into a job search anyway, so you might as well get a head start.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”