Can anyone help me with a work problem?

There’s a process for firing people that takes some time. It involves official warnings and meetings with HR.

Unfortunately I’m in a situation where I don’t have good choices. I’m making the best choices for myself under the circumstances. That’s why I started this discussion–so I can get some helpful information from other people to try to make the transition better. This is just one aspect of a very complicated situation, and I’m trying to make the best of some really bad life events.

Definitely agree that you should be looking. How many people are in your company? I’ve seen lots of bad performance review systems, but they are standard for all but small companies.
In a reasonably sized company, if you are critical to another manager they could create a decently paying job for you, rather than lose you. A small company, maybe not.

We’ve done reviews in the past, but somehow they always fizzle out. We have around 1000 employees, but the process of creating a new position takes a while and is hard to get money for. I don’t think there’s any chance of this happening, so I will need to leave.

I took a management course taught by Harvard Business School professors, and the expert on performance review told me that companies cycled through different methods, and were never happy.
I’d bring it up with the other manager, while still looking for another job. And I’m sure I don’t have to say not to tell anyone you’re looking. In your environment you’d probably be out the door in five minutes.

In the kind of job the OP has, it is much better to look while still working and, as we called it in Bell Labs, retire in place. Do what your boss tells you to do (not much in this case) and nothing more. Not having to worry about your future at a company is very relaxing.

I posted in the Workplace Rants thread about my meeting with Chaos Boss. It was wild. She is very upset that I did some work that needed to be done. :crazy_face:

I’m making plans for a quitting cake, which will probably not be announcing that I’m quitting with a cake, but celebrating with my co-workers on the day that I give my two weeks notice to my boss.

The sky is truly a different color in her world, like an ugly bruised greeny-purple. I several times asked her to clarify what she wanted me to do, and it upset her. I can’t do what she wants me to do because she doesn’t even know what she wants me to do. She was so upset by me asking her (politely) to clarify what she wants me to do that she wants someone from HR to be in our next meeting, and she is talking about starting the official PIP process. It’s going to be fun to hear her try to explain some of the absolutely bonkers things she’s said.

I did push back on a couple of demands that I think would really interfere with my work. She can call it insubordination if she wants. I call her an extreme micromanager who doesn’t know what she’s doing. I will not be micromanaged by someone who doesn’t know what I do and is refusing to learn anything about it. She was very surprised to find out that I’m the only person in our organization who can do the work that I’m doing. I don’t think she’ll even remember this at our next meeting.

Sadly, I think it would be really easy to make her explode. I’m trying not to do that, but it might come in useful later.

I was completely physically exhausted after the meeting, and she wants to have these meetings every week. I’m not sure how long I can do this. :frowning_face:

If she has an “in” with higher-ups, then it is likely that HR will just nod their head and accept whatever she tells them.

I believe that HR knows how bad she is, but they are under pressure from upper management to smooth things over. This is not her first rodeo, and she has done this before with other employees. I’m not sure if she can make herself look reasonable in front of other people. I was worried about this because I had another bananacrackers boss in the past (yes, I’ve had too many of those), and she could look rational when we had an impartial person mediating. I’m feeling a little more confident that that won’t happen this time.

Well, by your own stated schedule, you only need to do it a max of 11-12 more times… (Are you aiming at the beginning or end of Sept?)

Not intended as an insult, but you sorta come off as over focussed on immediate minutiae, as opposed to your sole goal of not getting fired in the next 8-12 weeks. Your boss is nuts and for whatever reason she has it out for you and there is no way you can satisfy her. We get it. Now just keep your head down and do your work for the next 8-12 weeks, and you’re golden. 8-12 weeks is nothing.

I WOULD suggest involving HR would help slow things down. Would be great to have HR present next week at her suggestion. Heck, even a PIP has to last a certain time, and might take you past your target date.

I’ve had a few crazy bosses like the OP describes. One was at in a backwater of the IT department of a big insurance company. What a miserable job that was, My actual boss quit after he hired me so I ended up having to deal with this lunatic VP who ran the department. She would go weeks without interacting with anyone, but when she did it was always petty and hostile to everyone. Who knows what the fuck was wrong with her. Everyone hated her. Actually the only reason I didn’t just up and quit was her admin let me know this bitchc was “retiring” in a few months.

I don’t know what’s wrong with people like that. Somehow becoming Senior VP of Nothing and No One becomes all encompassing. They don’t really know how to “do” anything or how anything works so I think they constantly look to set up scapegoats to blame for things that may eventually go wrong.

For the OP, honestly just do what she tells you and maybe stuff you think she will get mad at if you don’t do. Respond quickly to her emails and let her know when you complete her tasks. Otherwise just avoid her as much as possible until your cutoff date.

This is what I’m trying to do, but it’s not working because she doesn’t know what she wants me to do. I took a break from working on a project that she didn’t want me to work on. But that’s not good, because she didn’t tell me to stop working on it. But she doesn’t want me to work on it. :roll_eyes:

She keeps escalating what she wants me to do (from letting her know when I’m working on a new project to sending her before-and-after screenshots of everything I do. Or maybe she wants links. She doesn’t know.). Then she acts like she has been asking me for the more detailed info all along. She doesn’t read my emails, so if I have to email her when I find out I need to do something and then wait for her to tell me it’s okay, I’ll never get her approval to work on anything. I can let some things go, but there are things that no one else does, and my coworkers are relying on me to get these things done, so not doing them is not an option.

She really shouldn’t have this job. Nobody should have to work for someone who is this unstable. It’s exhausting.

This is still the wrong attitude you’re taking to everything. You’re still treating this like you have a job and your job is to do your job. Nope, you’ve effectively already been fired, your goal now is to hang on and continue drawing a salary/benefits for as long as you need while you’re still in the state of being fired.

A lot of people at your company would be inconvenienced if you just stopped doing your job? Well, guess what, if you were fired last month, they’d be the same level of inconvenienced and yet somehow they would cope and patch things along and eventually they would figure out how to live without you. You’re going to get fired at some point in the near future and they’re going to have to figure all that stuff anyway. It’s not your job anymore to care about how others are inconvenienced.

There’s a process every company has to go through to fire someone to comply with relevant internal procedures and external labor laws. Your job right now is to simply make it as difficult as possible for them to go through that to cling onto your compensation for as long as possible, while remaining scrupulously professional and avoiding the burning of any bridges with anyone outside of your bosses circle.

One thing I recommend you read up on is the concept of the grey rock. Don’t escalate when they escalate, just check out and remain blandly cheery and outwardly compliant. Your boss is your boss, if they want you to sit in a corner and whistle showtunes all day, just reply with a pleasant of course and when anyone else needs you to do anything else, give an apologetic shrug and say this is outside of your control now.

Another crucial thing I’d advise is that you make sure every possible interaction with your boss has a written record. Try to move as many things to writing as possible and avoid spoken conversations unless absolutely necessary and when you do have to have conversations, “take notes” during the meetings because you want “clarity” and then fwd her the notes you’ve taken at the end of every conversation. Take advantage of the fact that she doesn’t read her email to message her every time and be like, “Per our conversation, here are what I have recorded as the actionable takeaways. Please let me know within 48 hours if there are any major misunderstandings I have gotten from our conversation”. Use the defaults to your advantage to be like, “Well, if you wanted to tell me something different, I gave you the chance”.

The point of writing things down is not in communication with her, it’s building a paper trail that is “objective” and not at the whims of individual memory or interpretation. When someone on another team asks if you can help them with something, you can fwd correspondence to them indicating that at X date, your manager established Y procedure that ties your hands and while you wish it were different, you are unable to go over her head. Grey rock, grey rock, grey rock.

Note that while you’re in the state of being fired now, it’s not inconceivable that you could become unfired. Bullies thrive on weakness and if you put up enough of a fight, the manager might simply conclude you’re too much effort to try and push you around and you might reach a detente where she leaves you alone and you don’t cause any external trouble for her.

But you need to totally change your attitude about why you’re walking into work each day. It was one thing for the entire bulk of your career at this company and now it’s a totally different thing.

I’m not sure why you think I haven’t done this. I’m not approaching this as just a regular day at work. I know what I’m dealing with, I’m just trying to work with it for a short time.

One of my big questions has been what I can do if she tries to deprive me of things to work on. She has taken another step towards making me check with her before doing anything. I’ll do that, but there are a few places where I’m not going to let my coworkers down by not doing certain things. I have some responsibilities with a program that no one else can do right now. When I leave, someone else will need to be able to do this, but until someone else is assigned, this work still needs to be done. I won’t let my coworkers down by just not doing it. I also have some other things I need to do to prepare for leaving, like making sure that coworkers have access to documents that are on my laptop.

In other news, Chaos Boss was surprised to learn that there is no one else in our organization who can do most of the work that I do. :roll_eyes: She should be a little more concerned about how this is going to play out when I leave.

If there is something you need to do for your coworkers, ask them to request it in an email. Forward the email, with a copy to the requester, to her. Forward her response, if you get one. Copy the requester if you ask again for permission to work on it. Make it someone else’s problem.
You might verbally tell the requester that it is okay with you if they forward these mails to their manager.
Definitely do not say you can’t work on it because of Chaos Boss, but definitely do copy them on emails where you tell her that by her request you are not working on it until you get her permission.
If your coworkers can’t get something done because of this, it is not your problem but the problem of their manager. This is the rare case where being responsible is not to the benefit of the company in the long run.

I was going to thank Shalmanese for clearly expressing what I had tried to observe before.

Why do we think that? I suggest you read your posts - including this most recent one. And try to imagine how they come across to someone not residing within your head. Because they sure spend a lot more time discussing what is wrong with your boss, how that impacts your company and cow-orkers, what tasks you are assigned… Whereas in some of our opinions, those are essentially irrelevent EXCEPT to the extent that they affect your ability to keep drawing a paycheck up until your target date. (BTW - when exactly is it?) The place could burn down the next day and, while that is likely not something you strongly desire, it is ENTIRELY secondary to your exclusive goal.

If your goals come across as misdirected in anonymous posts complaining and seeking input about your situation, I can only imagine you might be sending some mixed messages IRL.

All of the above is intended entirely constructively.

Putting a very sharp point on it since you mostly missed the last ttwo posters’ excellent points

100% of this is the wrong thinking that will be your undoing.

If somebody wants something they send an email to your boss, period. Even if you’ve been delivering that TPS report every Wednesday for 5 years now. Not anymore.

You owe youself the extra 60-90 days wages & benefits more than you owe all your coworkers put together.

Your wacky boss has made this an either/or situation. Play along or get hammered. Trying to split the baby is not going to work.

I really didn’t, but if it makes you feel better, you can keep thinking that. I’m doing all of these things, but I’m not posting every detail because things are moving quickly. I’ve asked for help with specific questions about how to deal with an angry narcissistic boss, not how it works in general. I have plans to talk to some people who are affected by her demands, so that might open up different solutions. One of them might get some attention from senior management, because it’s a project that’s important to them.

She just asked me to email her about everything I work on this week, so it wasn’t a requirement before this. I felt that it was coming, so I brought it up because I’m trying to get ahead of her and think about these things before they happen. The issue is, now she wants me to email her about everything little thing I do and get her permission before I work on anything. This is absurd and excessive. Also she doesn’t respond to my emails. I think she does read them, but she doesn’t respond. It’s a power thing. Before this, she had asked me to let her know in person when coworkers asked me to work on something, which is also not good because she’s not in the office at least 50% of the time, and also there’s no written record. I have talked to some of my coworkers, especially ones that will be affected by this, so they know what’s going on, but most of them aren’t senior management, so we’re all powerless to do anything about it.

I have a lot of documents from many years of working that I’ll need to share with coworkers. I won’t let them down on this. It sucks to not have access to a document that you know exists, and nobody should have to recreate things or not have access to files they need. I’ve been in that situation, and I won’t do it to other people. These files are complicated, and involve packaging different pieces that are linked, so it’s going to take some time. I will do this whether she likes it or not. That’s the hill that I will die on, and I would like to see her explain to other people why it’s not okay for me to do that.

There’s a lot more to this, but I don’t want to write a book. This makes me miss my old evil boss a little bit, because at least I got some funny stories out of her.

This and everything you wrote after this is absolutely iron-clad evidence that you are NOT prioritizing survival.

ZERO of you coworkers will lift a finger to help you if it means they get into the bad books of your boss, even if you get fired. If they were going to help you, they already would have done something.

Your employer is not your responsibility. They have put someone in control that you believe will damage them severely. That’s their choice. Throwing yourself on a grenade to save the person who pulled the pin out is a fool’s errand.

I assume this information is not on your private laptop. If it is a work laptop, and work file storage, your IT department can give access to all your information when you leave. If you feel charitable you can document how to put things together, during the time between when you give notice and you leave. If they march you out the door immediately and so don’t have time to do it, well it sucks to be them. If someone’s life depended on your files that’s one thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Your colleagues may not be senior management, but they can complain up the line. Even if the company will fall apart without those files, that’s not your problem given the situation. Good managers consider what would happen if their key employee gets hit by a truck.
Think about it as you helping senior management see the consequences of their actions. It will be good for them in the long run. And you should relax.

Well, no, not necessarily. We don’t really know if the OP is actually in the process of being fired or just dealing with a shitty boss who may wants to fire him. If she’s as bonkers as the OP says, the company might be like “uh…that’s not a terminatable offence.”

Some people deal with shitty bosses for years and years.

I don’t know what you specifically do nor do we have your bosses side of the story, but I am hearing a lot of “I am doing this thing that my boss told me not to do”. I manage people and project teams and there may be legitimate reasons your boss doesn’t want you sharing documents or working on stuff outside of her group.

Her reaction may be over the top, but you are painting an image of someone who is (almost obsessively) defying their boss.

If your boss asked you not to support these groups for whatever reason, your obligation is to tell them “you need to clear this with my boss as she has specifically forbid me from working on stuff outside of her team”. Maybe even CC their manager at your bosses level. If it’s something critical to the other group’s operation, let your manager and their manager work something out (or not).

But speaking at someone who spends a lot of time analyzing the workings of complex organizations, you are presenting yourself as someone who is not “with the program”, as much as you think you are helping those other teams.