Lifestyle

I hate my new profession and especially my manager. What to do?

Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week, a question about hating a new job, a missing bonus, and how much work is expected before someone goes on long service leave.

I recently started a new job outside of my usual profession in a field I have been wanting to get into for a while. The thing is, I hate it. I’m only staying now because I need the money and I am continually looking for other work. My main problem is my direct manager who is unapproachable and exclusive in who she deals with. Every suggestion I make is ignored or dismissed. She treats me like I am an idiot and has another colleague check up on me to see whether I am in my office (where I am required to stay). I asked to leave one hour earlier to take my son to the doctor, and she said ‘fine, as long as you make up the time’. Fair enough, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow when she is constantly leaving early or taking annual leave or sick days. I feel that there is a double standard. I get that I am new and they are no doubt testing me, but I feel that their behaviour is close to bullying.

If you hate your new job and new boss it’s time to talk to someone about it.Credit:Dionne Gain

I do hope this experience with a bad boss doesn’t deter you from sticking with the new field of work you have wanted to move into. There are bad bosses everywhere, unfortunately, and you seem to have one micromanaging your every move. Have you noticed if she treats everyone like this? Or do you think it is just you? If you are a new starter, it might be hard to know who to talk to, but hopefully you might have a chance to do a check-in with someone – HR or another supervisor – to see how you are travelling. Do you feel able to raise these issues? Ideally, I think you want to communicate how excited you are to be working in a new field. However, you are struggling a little with the expectations of not being able to leave your office (what is that about?!) and being managed so closely it makes it hard to add the value you know you can add.

My daughter worked for a company for five years, and each year the company issues performance bonuses for eligible employees. The performance period relates to the previous year. My daughter, who is a single mum so the bonus of $3500 in question was important, had been working remotely so she was emailed to let her know her bonus letter was in the mail. Soon after, she accepted a position with another company, and subsequently submitted her resignation. The physical letter had still not arrived, but it states exclusions including ‘employees who resign from the company prior to receiving their bonus’ are no longer eligible. Of course, she didn’t know this as her letter was still in the mail. Because the payment had not yet been processed into her account at the time she submitted her resignation, the company reneged on the award of the bonus. Can the company do this?

This certainly sounds like a tough company with little compassion. It doesn’t even make good business sense since there is a reputational risk to treating employees this way. Whoever made the decision is probably following their own legal advice, but that doesn’t make it ethical or fair. The challenge is if you go down a legal path, you will likely get into an argument about when ‘receiving the bonus’ happened. Perhaps see what free legal advice your daughter can access whether through her union (if she belongs to one) or through the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Otherwise, I wonder whether this decision was made by someone on a strict interpretation of the bonus rules and can, possibly, be appealed. If your daughter has been a hard worker and well respected for the past five years, she might like to consider explaining the situation to a senior manager or leader she trusts to see if they can advocate for her to have the decision overturned.

If I take long service leave, should I have to plan the lessons, teaching program and write reports, for the period of time that I am on leave?

I am not a teacher, so I don’t know what is normal in your context, but I do know that in almost any profession there is some pre-planning that has to happen for any period of time we might be away from our job. That is simply because if we care about the work we do, we want to make sure it continues well while we are not there. We also want to make it as easy as possible for our colleagues who may need to pick up some of our responsibilities. If you know who will be covering for you while you are away, perhaps you can talk with them about what will be most helpful?

Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to [email protected] Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a company director, executive coach and author. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the QUT Business School and former Deputy Chair of the ABC.

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