When I sat with my boss for my first annual performance review, she grudgingly said based on the President and Board Members’ input I was a stellar employee. She went down the whole list of aspects and my outstanding ratings. When we both signed the review, she couldn’t resist adding that she whenever she saw me smiling at the office, she hated it and hated me for it.
After college graduation, I just landed the job of my dreams — digital marketing, a bump above entry level. My new boss gave me a total number for my salary and benefits and I agreed. Only when I got my first paycheck, I realized he lied about my salary and benefits rate. When I raised the issue, he threatened me with my three-month probation verdict: I might not make it to three-months if I didn’t shut up about his pulling a fast one.
Not limited to sexism or racism, the inappropriate remark from a manager is all the more dangerous because of the boss’s power over your employment. As long as you are there, the Bully Boss has major influence over your employment. You’re basically dared to complain. Even if you leave the company, these malcontent bosses may not hesitate to give you a bad reference or plain ol’ bad reputation.
There is no easy way out of this. You need and want your job. The Bully Boss feels in total control of the working relationship, making you bow and scrape is their greatest pleasure. Knowing you need your paycheck and their guidance to get your job done makes the Bully Boss feel powerful. Try not to act surprised when the Bully Boss tries to act like you two are really friends. The “L” word (as in “I love you”) may come into play, especially if you are dealing with a woman boss.
And like a bad marriage, all you can do is limit the interaction, get what value you can and DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. This mode of demeaning behavior was going on before you got there and won’t stop after you are gone. In the best scenario, you and other victims can have Human Resources conduct a 360 degree review of this person, thereby getting input from fellow employees above and below your problem manager. Hopefully, that process will set up a warning-then-consequences protocol for your Bully Boss. It just might solve the problem, or at least get the nut-manager into therapy. In the worst case scenario, you have to suck it up every work day and look forward to Happy Hour and days off.