Author Topic: Dealing with a bad boss  (Read 8051 times)

MountainTown

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Dealing with a bad boss
« on: May 25, 2017, 09:31:54 PM »
I have a pretty stressful job. It's Federal but not the cushy way most people imagine. Our agency is unpopular, under tons of scrutiny, and overworked. It's always been tough but I always had a boss who was seasoned, compassionated, and a good leader. This boss was supportive, reasonable, and cared about employees. I worked 50-60 hour work weeks and while I wasn't rewarded with extravagance, she rated me well, and thought highly of me. I received a couple promotions and now make about $80k a year.

That boss retired and someone else stepped in who has been almost the exact opposite. I am going from perfect reviews/evaluations to getting knocked down on ridiculous points on case reviews.

I have to say it's been pretty demoralizing. Yea I can spend all my time fighting any harm done with the Union process but I really don't want to spend my work time doing that. I prefer to maintain productivity and just get along.

Does anyone have any advice in this situation? Is it better to a.) Fight it, or b.) Just take your licks and accept bad reviews or c.) consider looking for other work/career prospects

I have always liked the work but the fact is the overwhelming nature of the demands of it has made me pretty unhappy lately. And now with this new boss, it's like he is trying to pick us apart on reviews. People are genuinely confused about what is expected because it is often contradictory to what upper management is saying.

On top of this, I am just pretty disappointed because it's a well paying job($80k) and I have been motivated to FIRE and/or buy a house lately. Now it just seems like it will be hard to stay in this job and be happy.

How have other people dealt with bad bosses? I should mention I have long considered going back to school for a vocation I always had interest in. It could pay $60 to 100k a year...but it would require 2-3 years of not working. There is no way I could do this job while going to school. It would also, of course require, a sizeable amount to get tuition paid for. University employment is an option but this university pays pretty low amounts and the employment opportunities aren't great from what I have observed...

Thanks for any advice. I have felt pretty beat up for the first time in my career. I think it's just disappointing to work this hard and have someone do this. I should mention that while my group is small, I'm not totally alone--most of the other employees feel the same way.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2017, 09:44:05 PM »
I had a similar situation with a bad boss and I ended up leaving. Make sure you have a large enough emergency fund so you can exercise that option.

HipGnosis

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 09:48:40 PM »
Request (firmly but politely) constructive guidance for every point deduction, in writing.
Document everything possibly relevant.  Include notes on contributing factors.
But some people just don't give glowing (or honest) reviews - "There is always room for improvement" is their mantra.  I suspect these people never got an "A" in school.
See if you can transfer to a different department.

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2017, 09:54:26 PM »
Clarkfan, I agree with the e-fund. For the last few years I have been saving for a down payment. We have about $83k plus another 8000 saved for a down payment. Is that enough? How much should I cut out of my down payment for immediate cash needs? I have wanted to put the the max down on the house to keep the payment lower....

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2017, 10:03:42 PM »
Hipgnosis, I have taken to doing "rebuttals' which is a right in our contract. The only problem is they really don't have to respond and there is no grievance process until it results in a lowering of your annual evaluation.

I have taken to documenting more and more. Honestly I am already overwhelmed by this job so having one more thing to document and not being able to just trust my boss is tiresome. It's like ....a relationship you know? You don't want to have to record every conversation or take notes on everything(LoL comey poor guy?).

Transfers are tough here. I have started applying for other jobs. It's difficult because I live in a state where the agency presence has gone down 70%. And that's not because it's not necessary...it's just an unpopular agency. I imagine the pendulum will eventually swing the other way. Long story short---transfer would require a move and my wife to change her job. THat's a tough sell. I am exploring any options though.. a remain in POD(post of duty) option would be great if I could find.

batemama

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2017, 10:09:36 PM »
I worked for a horrible boss for a private company at a public universityy. I also knew that 3 people (out of a staff of 5) had called HR or the area supervisor about him and were told to stop rocking the boat. I kept my head down and selectively applied for jobs. I was the breadwinner with a stable job that I liked, so I didn't want to leave unless it was a better prospect. It took me 7-8 months, but it was worth sucking it up for the job I ultimately landed. I'd make sure you have enough personal/vacation time to take time off for interviews. FWIW, horrible boss became an absolute douche nozzle when I gave him my two weeks notice. He threatened me with anything he could think of (not paying out accrued leave, marking horrible things in my personnel file, cutting off benefits the last two weeks, etcs), which I was able to refute since I helped process out terminated employees. So if you're going the finding a different job route, know your company policy as well.

Long story short, I would find a new job. It ain't with the bad reviews and consequently lower raises or the misery and fighting might backfire.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2017, 12:05:21 AM »
I worked for a horrible boss for a private company at a public universityy. I also knew that 3 people (out of a staff of 5) had called HR or the area supervisor about him and were told to stop rocking the boat. I kept my head down and selectively applied for jobs. I was the breadwinner with a stable job that I liked, so I didn't want to leave unless it was a better prospect. It took me 7-8 months, but it was worth sucking it up for the job I ultimately landed. I'd make sure you have enough personal/vacation time to take time off for interviews. FWIW, horrible boss became an absolute douche nozzle when I gave him my two weeks notice. He threatened me with anything he could think of (not paying out accrued leave, marking horrible things in my personnel file, cutting off benefits the last two weeks, etcs), which I was able to refute since I helped process out terminated employees. So if you're going the finding a different job route, know your company policy as well.

Long story short, I would find a new job. It ain't with the bad reviews and consequently lower raises or the misery and fighting might backfire.

Loved your story. I know the type.

former player

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2017, 03:05:59 AM »
Shame to lose your secure, well-paid job and benefits.  Any chance of this boss moving on?

Otherwise -

1.  Document.
2.  Look for a lateral transfer away from this boss.  Or try to get your boss to create a deputy boss position (not necessarily a formally graded position) to insulate you from him - "look how difficult you life is and how much better it would be if you had a deputy who wasn't me".
3.  What effect would future bad reviews have?  If they don't lose you pay or imperil your employment treat them as water off a duck's back.  Teach yourself not to care.

gooki

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2017, 03:34:16 AM »
Only quit once you've secured new employment.

Do the hours you are contractly required to do and nothing more.

Keep in touch with your old boss, you'll want them for references.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2017, 09:35:36 AM »
It sucks....generally speaking a bad boss will outlast good employees (emphasis on plural). 

mm1970

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2017, 09:44:03 AM »
Shame to lose your secure, well-paid job and benefits.  Any chance of this boss moving on?

Otherwise -

1.  Document.
2.  Look for a lateral transfer away from this boss.  Or try to get your boss to create a deputy boss position (not necessarily a formally graded position) to insulate you from him - "look how difficult you life is and how much better it would be if you had a deputy who wasn't me".
3.  What effect would future bad reviews have?  If they don't lose you pay or imperil your employment treat them as water off a duck's back.  Teach yourself not to care.
This

I eventually transferred away from the horrible boss.  In the meantime, I did my best to avoid him.  I did my job.  I did a lot of things that were "invisible" to him. 

I'll tell you what I didn't do.  I didn't work 50-60 hours a week.  If I'm not being appreciated, fuck that.  It wasn't worth the stress.

Lady SA

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2017, 11:02:13 AM »
I had a bad boss. I was getting reviews that weren't accurate reflections of my (really stressful and difficult) work and felt completely demoralized. He did not set me up for success, instead he threw me into a terrible, dysfunctional team situation, gave me absolutely no support, and then gave me shitty reviews for the team not performing highly. I HATED that boss. It got to the point where I dreaded going to work, and I cried at least once a week in the office restroom.

I had started looking in other departments. I was just desperate to get the fuck out, the stress was just ridiculous. The thought of staying was nausea-inducing. I stuck it out, putting in minimum effort, picking up various trainings just to get away from all of them. I only stayed to give me time to find something, anything, literally anything else.

Then, suddenly, our department was restructured and that hideous boss was voluntold to resign. And my nasty, aggressive team peer, within 2 weeks, gave notice and moved to a different company. And within 3 weeks, the project itself was moved offshore, leaving the remaining team to be disbanded and dispersed to other teams.

I got moved to a new team, and it was like night and day. My hair stopped falling out, I could sleep again, I LIKED coming into work. All former people on that horrible team are no longer with the company, I'm the last woman standing. And now I LOVE my job, I have a supportive boss who recognizes the good work that I do and great teammates, and I have relaxed, easy hours (probably work a total of 30-35 hours a week), and most importantly, I feel content. I'm so happy where I am now.

My point is, don't suffer through a horrible work situation. The saying goes, people don't quit jobs, they quit bosses, and it is completely true. Staying in that situation isn't worth damaging your mental health. Just opening up your job options, knowing you aren't stuck, is a relieving exercise. If things hadn't been restructured and the boss/bad teammates hadn't all suddenly left within a few weeks of each other, I absolutely would have found a different position, even outside of the company if need be. My health was suffering and that job was not worth it. I'm sure that your wife would support leaving and/or moving if you are that miserable, my DH was so desperate to help me that he would have willingly moved to Peru to try his hand at basket weaving if that's what it took.

Try to get perks from your company to make yourself a more attractive prospect (training? conferences?) in the meantime. I managed to snag a few trainings here and there while I was miserable, which boosted my prospects. I ended up not needing to find another job, but those trainings were super helpful regardless in my new roles and I am glad I was able to get some value out of that miserable 8 months.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2017, 11:28:26 AM by LadyLB »

loyalreader

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2017, 12:07:16 PM »
Not the answer you want to hear but... it's time to move on. It sucks, and it isn't fair, but the situation will not get better until you remove yourself from it.

Keep reminding yourself that it's not you, and stay above the drama. May be a good time to assess how much of your ego is wrapped up in your job. I truly wish you the best of luck and my heart goes out to you.

phred

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2017, 01:21:37 PM »
Documenting frictions is usually -- not always -- a waste of time.  You'll be perceived as "not a team player".  You will then get your wish of working elsewhere.

What is the background of the new boss?  If he/she comes from logistics, and you come from finance (or whatever), then it's like you're both speaking two different languages and coming from two different "countries".  If this is the case then expectations are being lost in the translation.  So, approach your boss in the language and modeling he is used to. 

If the entire team has problems, then one of the team (or take turns) needs to meet with the boss semi-regularly to go over interim progress.  Ask him/her "do you think we are headed in the right direction on this?" and "We seem to be stuck here and here.  Can you give us any suggestions?"  If, on the other hand, you are all trying to shun him and fly under his radar, it is no surprise you are not perceived as part of his/her good team.

Lastly, does he/she do any community service?  Can you join that or a similar group without making a big fuss about it?  Then, posting a picture in your cubicle of you in action may get him/her to start thinking that you are one of us instead of just an interloper.

phred

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2017, 01:24:29 PM »
I would also study that proposed new vocation if only on a part-time basis.  You obviously need a pressure release ready and waiting

Rogue

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2017, 02:23:52 PM »
The saying goes, people don't quit jobs, they quit bosses, and it is completely true.

Heh, I had a boss who liked to say that.  Yet when I quit, he didn't really understand why...

At that job, I tried to transfer after my first year because I didn't like my Original Boss.  Then enters the VP.  Original Boss becomes a peer, shortly before getting laid off.  VP blocks my transfer by assisting in the layoff of the Other Department Boss I was going to transfer to; VP was glad I "decided" to stay on the team.  I reported to VP for a while before he hired the Director who I then reported to.  Director loved to micromanage, was always looking for people to blame, and overreacted to minor issues (it required a formal debrief of what happened and outline of the new process to make sure that the issue NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN - all while acting like the sky is falling).  I tried to stick it out, but after a while I (and my wife for that matter) got tired of the 50-60 hours in the office plus late night work and checking emails on my phone.  So I quit.  It was largely because of Director and VP, but I just gave neutral responses to their questions.

Now I'm at a job with higher pay, better benefits, AND my workload rarely goes over 40-45 hours per week.  It was also nice to hear that my replacement quit after four months for much of the same reasons as me.

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2017, 03:02:31 PM »
Thanks everyone for the support. I can't say I find it all that encouraging. I am pretty scared about what my options might be out there. I guess it's a big world but in my town, it's hard to get a job that pays well. That being said, I have already started reaching out to people in various professions.

I have gone back and forth and also talked to coworkers(old and current). A lot of them have heard nightmare horror stories like this and just shake their head because some people have been driven out.

I guess I am at a loss of what to do. I probably will try to stick it out a little longer and see what happens.

In response to phred: I think we all feel a part of the "team" and work hard. The problem is we have all had some experience which make us either not trust him or just feel nit-picked to death. I truly believe that the best way to succeed in life is to make your boss look good...but at what cost? I mean I don't think I can continue this pace of work and the nitpickiness of the quality reviews makes it impossible to get anything done.

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2017, 03:05:00 PM »
I have for a long time wanted to be a mental health therapist. I have put it off in the hopes of saving more money but now I am thinking "What am I waiting for?" The problem is it will take quite a dent out of my down payment or savings plan. That being said if I am going back to school...maybe it's a bad idea to be buying a house.

I wish there was a way to pursue the mental health counseling track part time but it seems a bit all or nothing to me. You gotta get the degree, license, and hours to get paid for it. Has anyone dealt with a transition like this ? In terms of FI, it's harrowing to think of working part-time to succeed in school. The jobs I would work would likely be social work to match the skills in counseling.

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2017, 03:10:03 PM »
With a view of quitting, get all your certifications and other documentation together, make copies of some of the work you've done if it is legal to do so, and collect contact info for people you want to keep in touch with professionally and for references.

Duke03

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2017, 08:24:02 PM »
DO NOT I repeat DO NOT roll over you need to fight this and when I say fight it  I'm not talking stooping down to their level and getting the union involved. That won't solve anything.  You need to stoop 10 steps below any level they would ever consider going down to.  Go so low they fear you worse than the Boogie Man and when someone mentions your name they just walk away because they think you're crazy!

First things first I'd send an unanimous letter to their spouse informing them their significant other is having an office affair.  Send two or three letters just incase your boss checks the mail.  It's better if you know where the spouse works and then just send them to their office.  Once their personal life is in shambles and they are living out of their car odds are they won't have the time, will power, or the strength to screw with you at work any more.  If this doesn't get the results you are looking for PM me and I'll get you set up on round two!  FYI he's going to be the talk of the office when he shows up to work with a black eye from his wife smacking the shit out of him.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2017, 08:25:57 PM by Duke03 »

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2017, 10:41:24 PM »
WOw Duke...

Duke03

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2017, 11:55:50 PM »
WOw Duke...


If you're going to be a bear....Be a Grizzly!


mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2017, 07:51:32 AM »
Sorry that you're dealing with this.

If you're not already familiar with Ask a Manager, you might benefit from reading Alison's blog or emailing her for advice.

http://www.askamanager.org/

ejacobson

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2017, 08:21:04 AM »
One thing to consider is whether this new boss has much support from the top. If he is liked, then he is probably there to stay. Then you probably have no choice but move on. Bad bosses have a way of wrecking their employees' physical and emotional health. I had one boss like this and I moved on. Shortly after that the boss moved on too. Unfortunately there was a bigger problem with the top management and I heard they simply put another incompetent individual in his place. It took me about a year to find a new job and it turned out to be a very good decision for me. You might want to consider the overall health of your organization or unit and the chances of the situation improving.

yourusernamehere

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2017, 08:33:47 AM »
I had a bad boss who was a nice person but had zero concept of prioritizing, would change direction multiple times a day, fixate on meaningless minutiae, and constantly call me 2 minutes before the end of my day to ask for something "urgent" that would predictably become irrelevant by 10am the next day. It wasn't the same situation- performance reviews were more useless/directionless than negative at all. But I could not deal with this environment. After 9 months I called a former boss in another department and he hired me back. I took an hour to explain to the old manager all the things he was doing that was destroying the team. (7 people left after in the 2 months after I did.)
I was concerned about negative perceptions that might come with leaving that boss so quickly, but I have not learned of any issues with that. He has a pretty well known reputation and I felt very OK with choosing not to deal with it every day. Three years later, I'm not sure I would make the same choice because I feel more equipped to set boundaries and manage up, but I have no regrets whatsoever. The positive impact on my life and my health was immediate and completely worth the risk of any negative consequences (which haven't manifested at all.)

Good luck to you. I hope you can find some relief soon.

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2017, 12:02:38 PM »
I am pretty nervous about finances at this point. I wonder if people could give me some advice. I have been thinking about buying a house in the 250k to 300k range but now I'm uncertain. I currently make about 77k a year and my wife makes 38k.

We are maxing out her deferred comp, I am doing 5% and a match, and she is doing 8% and a 5% match.

We have a beater car. Paid off. No debts.

We have about $83,000 cash account.

We have about $120,000 in tax-deferred TSP/Retirement/IRA/Roth type investments.

Should I be counting on that savings to last me through a possible unemployment? Or would it be okay to find a house still that would be more modestly within her salary and maybe not even consider mine?

I should mention that I probably would get about $12,000 of vacation payout and the possibility of taking out my pension accrual(1% every paycheck so not significant).

I have no other assets. No investments.

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2017, 12:05:55 PM »
I should mention that i have always wanted to be a mental health counselor. Might this be a good chance to go back? I have always wanted to FI first but now it's seemling like I am at least 7 years away and i just don't think I can do it at this job. Even halfway to FI would be rough....but maybe I could do halfway.

sequoia

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2017, 07:48:22 PM »
I kept my head down and selectively applied for jobs. <cut> It took me 7-8 months, but it was worth sucking it up for the job I ultimately landed.

Thank you for sharing! I am kinda in the same boat.

kimmarg

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2017, 08:14:51 PM »
I had a horrible boss with a good Federal job. I transfered agencies and am much happier. Could you go to a different agency. Fed to Fed is always a bit easier in terms of job an benefits (fun fact if you apply for a demotion they are required to match your pay to the best of their ability thus I was GS-11/02 and applied to a GS-09 and got it as GS-09/09.)  I would look for a new job within the Feds.

kimmarg

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2017, 08:16:54 PM »

I should mention that I probably would get about $12,000 of vacation payout and the possibility of taking out my pension accrual(1% every paycheck so not significant).

This is US Federal gov't we're talking, right? With 10 years of service you can actually get your pension as a 'delayed retirement'. Won't be as much as it could be but it will be something. You won't get the money until you turn 62 but then you'd have a small pension

MountainTown

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2017, 08:24:35 PM »
Yes fed....the only problem is I am in a remote town. Almost nothing else in my agency in this city...and even State. It would most likely require  a move but yes I can keep my eyes/ears open :)

Thanks for the tip on the 10 years of service for pension. I had heard that and honestly that's why I was trying to make it to ten(I am at 8 almost). I don't know what it would be at age 62...but I suppose even $12000 a year is something right? Plus, if you go back into Fed at any point, you can get all that back(as long as I don't take it out).

Sparkie

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2017, 09:45:58 PM »
Tough times mate.  I've just been through this with my partner.  Her boss was/is a bully, and we documented everything, reported to HR, witnesses were interviewed and verified the bullying, and legally the case was proven.  The government insurer did an independent investigation and also found in my patners favour, and paid her wages and medical bills re stress etc while she was off work.

The employer (government) has bullying policies which weren't followed. They refused to attend arbritration on jurisdictional grounds, and offered no alternate work position other than a demotion to avoid the bully. In the end they settled and paid out 1/3 of her remaining contract.

We would never bother fighting it again.  4 months of stress and misery to try and get an employer to act within the law. My advice would be to keep your head down, do your job and no more, respond to requests etc (in writing) so the boss has no reason to manage you, and look for something else.  Don't make big purchases until its sorted.  Think of your savings as money to get you by when you're not working, whether in retirement, or now, to save your mental health. The longer you can delay dipping into them the better, but they're there if you do.  Back yourself in, and do what you feel deep down is right.

The employment world is full of people who were promoted one time too many.  Being good at one level doesn't make you good at the next.  So eventually, an employer generlly becomes top heavy with incompetent people.


lemonde

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Re: Dealing with a bad boss
« Reply #32 on: May 27, 2017, 10:22:39 PM »
As others have said, start shopping, head down, get out. I've never regretted leaving a job with a bad boss. Ever.