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Awful boss and probation period-- need help

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Awful boss and probation period-- need help

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Employment, Jobseeking & Training
16 replies 3K views
kpolskpols Forumite
12 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Employment, Jobseeking & Training
Recently I obtained a new job, the position is relatively senior and has a lot of responsibility. However, I am not a line manager and do have any employees which I directly manage. I have been experiencing some problems with my boss. This boss insists that I am underperforming my role but this view does not seem to be shared by my colleagues, or the people who I report to on projects. I am relatively sure it's personal, I think this boss doesn't like me and is acting accordingly.

As a manager, they have a tendency to micromanage and is insistent on knowing what I am doing at every part of the workday. Given that the position is relatively senior, one would expect that they could organise their own calendar in the way they wanted to. They will ask questions about tasks that I have achieved at that time of day, and compare it to to how she would organise her workload with no regard for what the actual outcome or quality of output is. They will then criticises you in comparison with what she would do rather than the actual quality of the outcome.

This boss offers a lot of criticism and feedback, but the feedback is less than constructive and doesn't really provide insight into how to improve but rather seems specifically designed to knock your confidence.

The problem is, I am on a probation period in my role and I am keen to pass this probation period, as periods of less than six months on your CV are not appealing future employers and could seriously damage my career progression.

So far, she has reassigned my responsibilities to other team members using the justification that I wasn't successfully completing those responsibilities, and for ‘training reasons’ it would be better if I adopted simpler projects. Yet when the manager for those projects visited the office they asked me why I have been reassigned and commented that they felt this was a shame as I am good at my role and responsive to their requests.

However, she keeps hosting one-to-one meetings on a weekly basis which are essentially a session in which she conveys disappointment and criticisms for everything that has happened and week previously. She also unnecessarily intervenes on my meetings, providing support where is not necessary and thereby making look incompetent to my senior colleagues.

A strategy seems to have three prongs—

Firstly, by reassigning my work to project which she perceives to be easier, she is limiting my scope professional development and skills acquisition. This then means that she has greater scope to make this argument when probation is reviewed. The problem is so other criticism sound somewhat reasonable however they will all rely on her assessment of my performance which doesn’t seem to reflect views of my colleagues.

Secondly, she's making me look like an idiot in front of senior managers by feeding back things like the points mentioned in the first.

Thirdly, she's hypercritical of everything I do and intervenes on my meetings making me look more incompetent to colleagues I work with.

I have never been in a situation like this before and I don't know how to manage it. Any info you could provide or strategies for handling her be greatly received. Please don't read the above, as me implying I’m the perfect employee— of course I have flaws and some areas that could be improved. However, I am sure they I'm not as fundamental as she's implying.
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  • DoshwasterDoshwaster Forumite
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    I would start looking for another job. Things may work out but it's always good to have an escape plan.

    As long as you don't have a history of quitting jobs I wouldn't worry about how a single short period of employment will look on your CV. People leave jobs before the end of the probation period for all sorts of reasons and often it's just a personality clash.

    A few years ago started a new job and knew by the end of the first week it was a mistake. At the end of the first month I sat down with my boss and we agreed that things weren't working out - it wasn't the job I was expecting and I wasn't the sort of person they wanted - so we agreed to part on good terms. No point in burning bridges.
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    So far, she has reassigned my responsibilities to other team members using the justification that I wasn't successfully completing those responsibilities, and for ‘training reasons’ it would be better if I adopted simpler projects. Yet when the manager for those projects visited the office they asked me why I have been reassigned and commented that they felt this was a shame as I am good at my role and responsive to their request


    You need to establish very quickly the pecking order of all the various managers that you get involved with and especially those that report to the same more senior managers than your boss.


    If you stay isolated under your boss the chances are you will need to move.

    You need to be getting those with the influence up the chain of command on your side to get instructions coming back down through your boss that you need to be working on project where these stakeholders want you.



    I would also cultivate these others to get some insight into the history of your current boss.

    The first thing to establish is why was their a vacancy.


    There are other approaches to combat the criticism and micro management but that can be very tough as it involves manipulative skills in response.

    eg. don't like how you are doing something you have to get them to put their process in place and get it documented in a way that others a can see that when it is not effective the fall out is back on the boss not you.

    sometime putting them on the spot with the simple "how would you have done it" to any put down, can work.
  • edited 5 July 2019 at 9:46AM
    prowlaprowla Forumite
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    edited 5 July 2019 at 9:46AM
    I had a very similar situation; I went for a job, nailed the interview, they offered me the job on the spot.

    I then started and it didn't take long for me to realise I'd made a mistake.

    There were two senior people who I was due to work alongside, but they seemed to resent me being there. I was assigned a number of tests to perform and was "marked" on a % complete.

    I was never able to complete the work, for example:
    • I needed access to systems which my manager had to authorise, but he didn't until it became an issue that I couldn't do the work.
    • A system which produced essential data for one of the items was broken for a couple of weeks, so I wrote my own version which produced the required data; that took time.
    • The two supposed colleagues were rarely about and one wore headphones, even when only me and him were about; I found them very unapproachable.
    • There were some issues with the equipment I was given, including my laptop malfunctioning and my inherited phone receiving messages about someone else's bank account. I was criticised for "keeping on wandering over to IT support".
    • I had meetings arranged with a manager; they kept postponing, including once where they just stood around talking to people in a group.
    • They had a reward system for good work which comprised rolling a dice to play a game and win a prize, which usually was a bag of sweets.
    All in all, it was the most stupid job I ever had and I've no idea what they were thinking about in employing me.

    The company made a big thing about how great a place it was to work, after all they had a slide from the 1st floor to the ground floor, but actually it was really horrible.

    I stayed to the end of the probation period as a personal challenge, but that was it.
  • Carl31Carl31 Forumite
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    Shes insecure and using you to cover her own back, probably as she is incapable herself. That sort of environment is incredibly toxic and will be bad for you long term. Best to get out as it wont get better

    A decent manager would take the wrap for any issues, then manage them with you as a training exercise, not point the finger
  • eamoneamon Forumite
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    You have my sympathy, been in a similar situation in the past. So as I can understand better I have a few questions.


    Was your line manager on the panel that recruited you? (not neccesarily a bad thing)

    In the sector that you work in, who has more knowledge/experience, you or her?
    Do you fit in with the rest of the structure/people?
    A previous poster has also raised this point, where does your line manger position in the structure?

    Is she also new?


    Lastly being micromanaged is a dreadful practice to inflict on anybody and is surprisingly common and unless you have been a victim poorly understood.
  • SmodletSmodlet Forumite
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    She sounds exactly like a manager I used to have, who was transferred from another dept. and knew absolutely nothing about our role. She was so vile, people began going off sick with stress; something none of us had ever done in that company before.

    In the end, I was the only person left who pre-dated her. The team was all newbies whom I was expected to train while maintaining the quality and volume of my output, of course. It was all too much in the end so I left too. I hope that evil b!tc# rots in hell.
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
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  • Les79Les79
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    Sounds like there's a possibility that you could be undermining her authority to be fair...

    - New person to the company in a relatively senior job, a bit of an unknown quantity to begin with and someone who could be good or could be useless.

    - New person has come in and seems to be dismissive of the "feedback" etc that their boss gives (whether it is good or bad). Seems to be doing their own thing (which, to be fair, may need some level of micromanagement if it deviates from the tried and tested methods that the chain of management employs!).

    - New person seems to be making allies with their colleagues, BUT NOT their line manager.

    Unless they are inherently evil (very unlikely), you'll often find that having a frank, but friendly, chat will get to the bottom of the real issue. Also making *some* concessions to how you work would likely make your boss much happier and more trustworthy of you.
  • snilloct1957snilloct1957 Forumite
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    Carl31 wrote: »
    Shes insecure and using you to cover her own back, probably as she is incapable herself. That sort of environment is incredibly toxic and will be bad for you long term. Best to get out as it wont get better

    A decent manager would take the wrap for any issues, then manage them with you as a training exercise, not point the finger

    Totally agree with Carl. She feels threatened by you because of:-
    your qualifications, your ability and your experience. She will undermine you at every opportunity and complain to management behind your back, without giving you any chance to respond. Make a complaint to her manager and resolve this issue asap.
  • kpolskpols Forumite
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    Les79 wrote: »
    Unless they are inherently evil (very unlikely), you'll often find that having a frank, but friendly, chat will get to the bottom of the real issue. Also making *some* concessions to how you work would likely make your boss much happier and more trustworthy of you.

    The problem with this approach (and I've tried) is that she's very argumentative and defensive. You try to put your point across but she's already responded mid-way through.
  • kpolskpols Forumite
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    eamon wrote: »
    Was your line manager on the panel that recruited you? (not neccesarily a bad thing)

    I already worked in the organisation and was informally 'head hunted' for this role.
    eamon wrote: »
    In the sector that you work in, who has more knowledge/experience, you or her?
    Do you fit in with the rest of the structure/people?
    A previous poster has also raised this point, where does your line manger position in the structure?

    Is she also new?

    Oh definitely her- she's worked for a very long time in our office. She's been working there since I was in primary school.

    I fit in okay with the team-- we're not best friends but we get on okay.

    In terms of the overall structure of the organisation, she is responsible for delivering a business critical function in a large organisation. I guess In most businesses she'd probably be an assistant director.
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