My Boss Hates Me

by Evil HR Lady on October 4, 2007

I work at a private country club. I have been a Director of Tennis for nearly 18 months with this company and have been threatened with termination 4 times in the last few months. The reasons have varied from I am never there, to my staff is not happy with me, to I am a poor leader in my department, to the membership does not like me.

I completely understand that this is a private club and as such the membership could dictate my position. However, I have an evaluation from the membership last year that rated me at a 3.97 on a 5.0 scale; the third or fourth highest rating in the club. Also, I have detailed work records showing that I average 50 hours a week every week at work, with multiple weeks in the 55 – 65 hour range.

I have records showing I have consistently had 6 days or less off each month for the last 6 months including sick days/vacation days. The staff issues could be a valid point however, my staff has been called into numerous, private meetings with our general manager and I have not been allowed to voice my opinion on those meetings. Instead I have been treated to a steady diet of meetings with my general manager about the poor morale and lousy working conditions my staff deals with. However, my staff has never filed a single complaint nor voluntarily asked for a private meeting to discuss work place behavior. My staff itself are all on 40 hour work weeks due to hourly and wage laws.

Finally, the leadership comment has disheartened me the most. I was brought on board at this company to handle a financial and personal crisis in the department. Since my hiring I have maintained our department budget for 15 of 18 months, coming in under budgeted loss for last year and most of this year, until my general manager took over purchasing and overspent this past 2 months.

And I am still being held accountable for such purchases even though I no longer had any power on the ordering. I have a track record and history of awards on my resume for outstanding leadership, attended college on a “Leadership Scholarship,” and have several “Outstanding Employee of the Year” awards from previous employees. Leadership for my staff has included training on various computer programs we utilize, delegation of duties (some of which I had to re-assume due to procrastination on my staffs part), lesson planning, etc.

I apologize for the length of this email but I have grown increasingly frustrated by my lack of options at this time. We have no internal HR Department at our club and I feel that any complaints (that are backed by documentation) on my part will only result in my termination.

Please advise and thank you for your time.

In answering your question I am assuming that everything you wrote above is true. This is how I see it. Your boss does not like you. He may have irrational reasons for not liking you (your hair color, the type of car you drive, the type of bottled water you prefer). He may have completely rational reasons for not liking you (you constantly clear your throat, you are a better worker than he is and he’s afraid you’ll take his job).

But, reasons not withstanding he doesn’t like you. What he is doing right now is making a very thorough effort to document performance “problems” so that he can fire you.

You live in an at-will-employment state (although I don’t know the particulars of your state’s laws) which means that, technically, he doesn’t need any reason to terminate you. You can just be sent out the door with nothing more than your last pay check.

Here is what you need to do.

1. Decide if this is a job you really, really, really want. If not, start job hunting immediately.

2. If you’ve decided to fight for your job, arrange a meeting with your boss. Present the information you’ve given me here and say, very clearly, “I understand that you do not feel that I am doing a good job. The results of my work show that I am meeting and exceeding the expectations laid out when I was hired. Can you please explain what I need to do to be successful in your eyes?”

3. While your boss stammers an answer (your employees do not like you! you are over-budget on supplies! the club members like you better than me!) calmly take notes and repeat. “Are you saying that my employees do not like me? Can you show me what their specific complaints are? I really enjoy all the people I work with and am under the impression that we get along well.” or “The only months we’ve been over budget are the months that you were responsible for ordering supplies.”

4. Document, document, document. (That’s what he is doing, by the way)

5. If Step 3 doesn’t resolve the issue, (It may–sometimes when it becomes clear to someone that what they are systematically doing is very noticeable), you go over his head to the Club board president. (This may kill your career, though, as I don’t know the culture. fair warning!) Ask her opinion on the situation. If you have the member’s backing, your boss is simply an annoyance. If you don’t, well polish up that resume.

6. When you are fired (if steps 3 and 5 don’t work), apply for unemployment. Your boss will try to use the “Evidence” he has gathered to say that you were fired for cause and are not eligible for unemployment. You present your evidence that you were not fired for cause at all. Hope you win.

It’s not a happy and sunshine answer because dealing with people means dealing with their irrationalities and their preferences. That’s life. Sorry about that.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

HR Wench October 5, 2007 at 6:10 pm

A couple of things stand out to me in the email. These things may be what is stuck in your boss’s craw:

“I have records showing I have consistently had 6 days or less off each month for the last 6 months including sick days/vacation days.” Is this in compliance with the club’s attendance policy? If not then your manager has a very good reason to be peeved at you.

“…my staff has never filed a single complaint nor voluntarily asked for a private meeting to discuss work place behavior.” Have YOU asked THEM how things are going? No news is not necessarily good news…especially if they ARE giving the news to someone up the chain from you. This means they don’t trust you and don’t feel they can work things out with you on their own. It can also mean they want you gone and are trying their darnest to sabotage you by finking to your boss.

“…delegation of duties (some of which I had to re-assume due to procrastination on my staffs part), lesson planning, etc.” This tells me when your employees get lazy you swoop in to save them. What has been the disciplinary consequence to them for this? This type of performance in your employees is unacceptable. Manage them to perform better. If they don’t then manage them out of the organization. Employees WANT to be held accountable. If your boss doesn’t care if you sit around all day like a bump on a log are you motivated to do a good job for him? Heck no.

Just some thoughts.

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Evil HR Lady October 5, 2007 at 7:40 pm

I took the 6 days thing to mean he worked all but 6 days–meaning most weeks he took less than 2 days off, where those of us with desk jobs take two days off every week. (Sat & Sunday). If I’m wrong then I’d fire him too.

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Mike Doughty October 5, 2007 at 10:14 pm

This looks like a real no-win situation for you. Based on what you’ve written, and making the assumption that you’re good at what you do and therefore won’t have too much trouble finding another job, I’d offer the following (which I would tag as pragmatic advice): Go to your boss and tell him that it’s obvious things aren’t working out, without assigning blame. Tell him you’re willing to leave quietly within 90 days if he’ll give you a letter of recommendation and allow you reasonable time to interview. Leave unsaid that the alternative is that you WON’T go quietly. If he wants you gone he’ll probably jump at this chance, as it will save him a lot of grief. You might be able to fix this situation, but it sounds doubtful to me. Life’s too short for this kind of stuff. Chalk it up to experience and move on.

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Anonymous October 6, 2007 at 12:29 am

Thanks for the response. In the interim we have been called to a staff meeting and I was encouraged to stop documenting my communications with my staff; instead encouraged to “talk more and record less,” so to speak. I have ultimately reached the point, as has my staff to be honest, that we are all just frustrated and treating this as an annoyance rather then a threat.
We do have weekly staff meetings, and meet about issues regularly, and to be honest have received more letters and emails from club members complimenting our service then any other department. I am still working 60-70 hours a week and yes the 6 days were not sick days but less then 2 days off a week, but I do love what I do for the most part so we are trudging through.
I am not blind though and have started the process of seeking out new career opportunities. I appreciate the feedback and the assistance greatly.

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Anonymous February 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Song Title: Sweetest Lemonade (Swing, Bad Boss,Block Negativity,Reach Your Peak)
Subject: Soul song pokes fun at the bad boss and inspires the under-dog to strive to improve his or her position in life. Song suggests that the table could turn, making the boss the under-dog and the under-dog the top dog.
Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYcHW1kuP-k

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