I’ve been working in a retail office for 8 years as a buyer. When it started, it was great, and I enjoyed my job.
The department head is a horrible person who uses and abuses people. This has a trickledown effect. Over the years she has gotten worse and worse. Almost everyone under her (the entire department) has become unhappier and meaner because of it.
I’m a very non-confrontational person. I avoid arguments and drama, and try to make my work environment as friendly as I can. This has worked great, but in the last couple years the work environment has become so dismal and unhappy that people have started being mean to others, including me. Me in particular. Not only have my co-workers started bossing me around and pawning their work off on me, but part-time workers under me have started doing the same. I noticed that they all started walking all over me, so today I went to my boss and voiced my concerns. The conversation went like this:
Me: The last little while people who are not my superiors have been passing their work off on me and ordering me around. I feel ganged up on, and pretty unhappy, and I don’t know what to do.
Boss: Uh, um, well, there is no hierarchy here. We’re a team and we all help each other out.
Me:…what? But…you’ve even told me that you and your boss are my superiors and all directions are to come from you or her.
Boss: Uhhhh well if someone asks you for help then you should help them.
Me: So if I’m really busy I can ask (manager above me) for help?
Boss: Well no because he’s busy with his own job.
Me:…but you just said…
Boss: Look, I’m really busy right now. We’re all a team and you are part of the team and expected to act like it. walks away
I’ve worked really hard over the years and have consistently gotten better than average annual reviews…so I don’t know why he’s giving me this lecture. And I’m left feeling helpless and stuck.
So, how do I know where to draw the line in “helping” my co-workers? How do I be helpful without being a pushover? I wish I knew how. I really, really want to be strong in that way, and I’m always angry at myself because I just. don’t. know. how. No matter how hard I try, I can’t figure it out.
Also, I know I have to get out of this job and into some place that treats me with some respect. I’ve been looking for another job for the past year and have been through a ton of applications. I’m a graphic designer, but the market for it in my area is so competitive I’ve never had any luck in finding something full time. Right now though, I’m looking for even just a receptionist somewhere so I can get out. The economy in my area is still really glum though, and there’s been nothing. Other problem is, it has to also pay close to what I’m making now, (35k/year) or I won’t be able to afford my apartment any more and will be homeless. This is the main reason why I can’t just quit right now. There are also no cheaper apartments in my city that aren’t in sketchy areas or have roaches/bedbugs.
I feel trapped and hopeless. I just need help on knowing how to endure my job for a little longer, so I can hopefully find something better.