Q.I recently joined a consulting firm as a secretary. When being interviewed, I didn’t get to meet my boss since she was out of the country. Had I met her, I would have had thought twice about taking this job. The first day I reported to work, I greeted her but she ignored me and instead explained what she expected of me. She shouts at everybody in the office, and it is very hard to please her. I am afraid of her, what do I do?
Definitely a boss with a bad attitude, but before you label her as the bad one, be sure you are judging right. Bosses don’t always have it together as many would expect. They are human beings, who sometimes have difficult moments, but since they are held at a higher standard than the people they look after, their faults are always more visible and subject to scrutiny.
Her key role is to guide you and facilitate you to do your job. If this facilitation is not done in a threatening manner, do your job and do it well. While at it, greet her cheerfully when you have an opportunity, as you would any other colleagues irrespective of seniority. Do not let her bad attitude influence your values and behaviour.
That said, we must also look at the other side, where an organisation turns a blind eye to behaviour that promotes hostility towards colleagues, especially lower level employees. A smart boss knows the importance of motivation, and the impact it has on productivity. When employees are treated well and feel valued, they tend to reciprocate through enhanced commitment and deeper engagement in their work, driving productivity. When employees are ill-treated, they tend to be less committed to their work, always doing the bare minimum. And so bad attitudes from bosses and colleagues are a recipe for bad culture and poor performance, and your top leadership should be concerned about this. If no one speaks up, no action will be taken. Instead of sitting there and feeling helpless, escalate this behaviour through the right channels for further attention. Talk to the person who recruited you and share your discomfort. Speak on behalf of your colleagues; being new, you have a better opportunity to voice these issues as observation during your onboarding process. Exit is still an option, however, meaningful lessons come from solving challenges, not running away from them.