I don't know where to go from here (work related)

My boss has been doing some “questionable” things lately, and I’m not sure where to go. But first a some history.

As some of you may know, I’m a bank teller. From when I was hired over a year and a half ago until August, I was a “floating teller” which meant that I would help out the various branches in my area. I would cover their vacations, training days, etc. I worked at every branch in the area, and, of course, some ran smoother than others. Well, in August, they eliminated the float teller position. I was assigned to the only branch that still needed help. We’ll call them Branch A. From the time I had spent there as a floating teller, I knew it was not a branch I wanted to be at; high personal drama, gossiping, backstabbing, etc. If I had a choice, I would have chosen branches B, C, and D.

Here’s what’s going on now. My boss is trying to get two people fired. To be honest, she made some bad hiring decisions and she knows she hired some people that just aren’t working out. She’s hoping to have them gone by the end of the year. I just found out that there’s an opening at branch B, one of my favorite branches, so I applied for the transfer. My boss heard of the opening and knows how much I like that branch, so she asked me if I had applied for the position. I told her that I had. She then started telling me that I won’t get it because I’m not a good employee for X Y and Z reasons, and if they ask her, she won’t say I’m a good employee. Then, in practically the same breath, she says that she can’t afford to lose me because she’s trying to get the other two girls fired and that I’m too valuable for her to let me go. She said that she’s afraid that I’ll tell HR about the drama here and she’ll get in trouble. She also said that if HR comes down on her, she’ll know who sent them, because in her eyes, I’m the only disgruntled employee (the two girls she’s trying to fire are also disgruntled, mind you). She said she’s going to do what she can to block my transfer, “to cover the branch.” Basically, she doesn’t want me talking to HR at all, so she doesn’t even want me to interview.

Yesterday, when this all happened, she spent about an hour just tearing me apart about what a miserable employee I am. It wasn’t a review, I had no warning, she just tore into me about it as soon as I mentioned that I was applying for the other branch. She’s intimidating me not to talk to them, because I’m afraid she’ll retaliate. I’m afraid to talk to her boss (the branch manager) or HR, because if it comes back to her, I’ll be in a world of hurt. I can’t stand being at that branch anymore. I cry almost every day after work because I’m so sick of the fighting and being constantly belittled.

What can I do? Where can I turn? I need to get out of there, but I know she’s blocking me. I don’t have any issues with the company, and because of the Paid Time Off and other perks I’ve accumulated, I don’t want to leave the company. I just need this bullying to stop. I have anxiety attacks just thinking about work and when I’m there, I’m almost permanently on high alert. It’s wearing me out and making my ill to work in that toxic environment. What can I do short of just quitting (and not having a paycheck anymore)? Are there any protections in place for people in my situation?

You’re already in a world of hurt, so I don’t see where you have much to lose by talking to HR. Speak to them, that’s what they’re for.

Is the branch manager a reasonable person?

I agree. Document what has happened in a calm way, then go to HR.

Bullying doesn’t stop unless you bravely take action yourself.

Take it to HR or whatever level of great-grand-boss it takes to be outside of branch A. In writing, but personally delivered.

If they side with you, you win a transfer to Branch B, and you know your current supervisor is now known to be a problem they will address eventually. Meanwhile, she’s no longer your problem on a daily basis and has no ability to hurt you long-term.

If they side wth your problem supervisor, you know that this company is not a place you could really work for for very long. Soon enough, that rot would infect branch B, C, & D too.

Yes, but she doesn’t want to let me go because she “has a branch to run” and needs that branch to “be fully staffed” and can’t afford to lose staff.

My supervisor knows how to put on the charm when the branch manager steps in. She’s all smiles and compliments then. It’s very much like a domestic abuse situation (which I’ve been in). When no one’s around, she’s tearing me apart. But as soon as there might be a witness, she’s peaches and cream. If I go to HR, and they sit down with her, she’ll turn on the charm for them. Then, when she’s done, she’ll come back and make my life hell. (Although, it was pointed out that my life is already hell, so how much worse could it be?)

This ought to be the story you take to HR and/or the branch manager. If the branch manager is smart, she will understand that this other manager sounds like a major interference in keeping the branch running.

I think you’ll find that if you remain int his job and do not act you will begin to become a person you do not like. I would recommend immediately beginning to interview with other companies. Just looking and knowing you are doing something will remind you of the power that you hold in your own life.

I also second the Great-grand-boss recommendation. It’s been my experience that HR tends to go straight to the boss and let them know they have a problem. You want to be the first to tell your story, before she has a chance to start bad-mouthing you. Point out that all the employees who work for her tend to “become” bad employees - this is the key warning sign that her bosses have been missing. Couch your comments in your “concern for the branch” and point out the ways in which her behavior is seriously affecting policy compliance, employee turn-over, and customer service. Your time moving from branch to branch will serve you well int his conversation, and you can point out specific positive strategies you have seen used elsewhere, contrasting them with her dysfunctional strategies.

Do not be afraid for her to find out that you are sticking up for yourself and taking action. Do what you have to, and have three back-up plans 1) the branch you’d like to be working at knows you want to work there and has had a chance to interview you 2)You’ve interviewed with some other companies and begun to develop possibilities 3) What else could you do that would support your continued income if this situation goes South?

I’d also say that some counseling on the side would be valuable. Since you’ve lived through similar treatment before you are susceptible to drop quickly into depression as a result of her bullying. Give full credit to yourself for what you are going through and find someone to support you as you walk through it. You can’t afford to be paralyzed by this.

Damn, you seem stuck in one of the circles of hell!

Talk to HR at the branch you want to transfer to. Call and make an appointment to meet for lunch, not at the branch.

Tell them just what you have told us, and you’ve come to them out of fear of retaliation. Tell them you’re ready to break down, it’s all too much for you and throw yourself on their mercy.

I have to think they’ll look out for you. If they don’t, can’t, or only make it worse, you could find yourself out of a job. Which is what will happen after this environment, you’re currently trapped in, blows up, [and it will], you’ll still be out a job. You have nothing to lose in my eyes.

As for your boss, I would be hard pressed not to confront her on the abuse she’s heaping on you. Get suddenly very angry, look up directly into her eyes, blurt out very loudly, “Please stop trying to manipulate me with threats and bullying!” Interrupt her response, as it begins with, “Please, enough already!”, get up and walk away. Let her stew in that juice for a while, see if she isn’t a little nicer in manner. Won’t resolve any of your issues but it might improve her attitude a bit. After all she said she needs you, badly.

Good luck, I hope you’ll keep us posted on developments!

As in any abusive situation, keep a diary of the incidents.
Any “counseling” your boss does, she should also have an official record of. If she doesn’t and you do, its going to look like the abusive behavior that it is.

Not knowing where you are and what company policy has to say, but a small tape recorder or digital voice recorder can be your very best friend.

Lemme get this straight. You’re trying to leave a job but your boss is too mean to let you leave. Do you not realize that her ultimate power is to force you to leave? Tell her to go fuck herself. Next time she yells at you, yell back. When she tells you to do some shitty busy work, tell her you won’t do it. What’s she going to do about it, fire you?

She’s already made it clear that she can’t afford to lose you. So it sounds like you own her ass.

Since the OP is seeking advice, this is more suitable for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I think this is one of those times when you will have to muster as much nerve and documentation you can come up with and get ready to fight the good fight.

What your boss is doing is wrong on so many levels and your non-action allows her to win. What’s more, your going to HR is not motivated in order to play the part of the snitch but instead for you to get out of a genuinely toxic work environment. Also, bottom line: bitch needs her come uppance.
You may not win and your worst case scenario of either remaining at the same branch or who knows? even losing your job might result but at least you pursued the dignified path and can keep your head up.

I wish you the best of luck. Let us know how things turn out.

So the Branch Manager is your supervisor’s boss? If the Branch Manager is concerned about keeping the branch staffed up, maybe she should know that the supervisor’s tactics are likely going to make you quit anyway.

If you can subtly, without making it seem like a threat, let her see that her choices are either 1) recommend you to branch B, thereby getting brownie points from the branch B manager for sending them a good teller, and having you be loyal to her in the future; or 2) watch you quit anyway in a few weeks,
then maybe the manager will see the wisdom in not blocking your move. Hard part is not making it seem like a threat. I’d suggest ridiculous amounts of compliments for the manager and how you really like working with her and hope to do so again, but branch B is so much more convenient for you…

Can you not carry a voice activated recorder on your person, so you can record when she starts slamming you?

HR is not likely to be helpful to you; as you fear, the first thing they will do is go to your supervisor and ask her if your reports are true. Remember, too, that HR exists to protect the company, not you. I too suggest that you make an appointment to sit down and discuss the opening at Branch B without your supervisor knowing about it - or not even make an appointment, just happen to drop by there at a time when you know the manager will be around, and let her know that you’re interested in a transfer. If ever a situation called for an end-run, it’s this one.

You could also tell the new supervisor that your branch is short-staffed, so your manager doesn’t want to let you go, but the location is so much better for you that you’d still like to transfer. That lets her know that your supervisor might be a dick, but you still want to transfer.

I also agree that you should be documenting EVERYTHING. It might be the difference between getting unemployment insurance or not if you are let go (or quit) - that was my experience, leaving a job where a co-worker was bullying me. The company ended up getting asked some very hard questions by the government of Canada since workplace bullying is illegal here, which warmed my heart thoroughly. :smiley:

I’m not good at understanding office politics, but isn’t it likely that the supervisors/branch managers at B, C, and D, have an idea of what the situation is at A? They may not take your supervisor’s recommendation seriously.

They know it’s a hot mess at branch A, but they don’t know the exact details (that the supervisor is a bully, etc.). I hope they’ll take it with a grain of salt.

If they know it’s a hot mess, then they at least know that your supervisor is incompetent, even if they don’t know she’s a bully.

I have to take issue with elbow’s recommendation to play the emotion card. I think that will hurt you in the long run.