I thought I have joined a dream company from which I would eventually retire. I had met the company president himself, by chance, in the airport while both of us were in the terminal waiting for departure. He asked me what kind of work I was doing and he listened attentively as I described what I did. He gave me his business card and requested me to call his HR manager.
To make the long story short, I was hired after only one interview by the HR manager. I could not believe the financial package given me: my basic pay is three times more than what I was getting, with prospects for training, locally and abroad, provision of a company car and gasoline, etc.
However, my immediate boss’ dislike of me is very obvious. He ignores me during meetings, cuts me off when I’m speaking, doesn’t give me tasks to do and his facial expression is devoid of any sign of friendliness. On several occasions, I asked him to give me tasks to do or refer me to a colleague who could orient me on the work he expected to do. He just waved me aside and told me to simply wait. I have received my paychecks for the past two months but I can honestly say that I didn’t deserve the pay for I did not do any work to deserve it. I feel humiliated sitting before an empty table and a brand new computer. I know nothing about what is expected of me and no one tells me anything.
What does my boss have against me? Does he resent the fact that he had nothing to do with hiring me? But why take it out on me? What shall I do? I’m in limbo. Please advise me.
As I read your e-mail, I recall similar others who had written me about their pains in having to be under, or working with a “difficult” boss. Top management doesn’t realize that while so much money is invested to attract and retain good people—better pay, better perks, better training and development—in the end, turnover is mostly a direct supervisor/manager issue. Most of the time, the direct supervisor drive their high potential people and productive employees out. While presidents or CEOs are busy traveling the world, signing new deals, getting new contracts, developing a vision for the company, etc., they have little idea of what may be going on “at home”. Deep within an organization that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away.
Losing a good employee and hiring a replacement has certain costs among which are:
- how long a time it takes for the vacancy to be filled by the right person;
- no one can do the job of the resigned employee; or the boss him/herself will have to do the job at the costs of his/her own tasks;
- loss of clients and contacts that the resigned person had in the company;
- cost of recruitment and selection;
- cost of training and developing the new employee;
- loss of trade secrets the resigned person may now share with others, including competition;
- low morale among co-workers.
Beyond the basic needs, an employee’s primary need has less to do with money and more to do with how they are treated and how valued they are made to feel. Much of this depends directly on the immediate boss. More than any other single reason, the immediate boss is the reason why employees stay and thrive in the organization, on one hand, or why employees quit, taking their knowledge, experience, network and customers with them, often straight to competition.
What do I advise you to do? You said that you like the company you are working for now and that it was the president himself who had recruited you. Perhaps your boss resented his non-participation in the recruitment and selection process. Nevertheless, if he is an organization man, the interest of the organization should be primordial rather than the satisfaction of his own ego needs.
But is it also possible that because the president himself had recruited you, you are showing some attitudes and behaviors of superiority and these turn off your boss and perhaps, also your peers. Every behavior is caused. What is the cause of your boss’ behavior towards you? For example: how do you communicate during meetings? What words do you use and the tone of your voice? This is something you may want to reflect on. Perhaps, this is an area you need to be aware of and where you need to make some changes.
After doing an honest self-assessment, I advise you to go to your boss. You may either catch him when he is not busy and he is in a good mood; better yet, you make an appointment to see him.
When you do find the chance to talk to him, express to him how much you want to be part of his team and to contribute towards meeting his and the department’s goals. “Please tell me, Sir, what you want me to do and I will follow your instructions.” Then listen to him.
Next step is to apologize for any behaviors you might have shown that disappointed, even hurt him. Cite what these behaviors could be. Then ask him how he wants you to behave. Listen attentively to what he has to say.
Don’t go to the President to tell him about your boss’ behaviors toward you, and especially to criticize him. This is an absolute NO-NO. Settle the matter with your own boss. You are a newcomer to your department. Certain structures and systems are in place. Do not criticize them. Do not attempt to change them even if they seem wrong to you. Wait a while before you tell your boss privately about your suggestions for change. Do not bring these up during meetings. You will be antagonizing those who put these structures and systems in place. If the boss agrees with your suggestions, let him bring these up during meetings. If he doesn’t, remind him. If he does, well and good. If he doesn’t, you just have to wait.
Should you decide to leave after all your positive attempts to connect with him failed, then you could tell all to the HR head if he conducts an exit interview with you, which I hope she/he does so that top management gets to know the “rotten egg in the basket of eggs”, and do something about it.