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Dear Guide: My boss treats me poorly, but I love my job. I don’t know what to do

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Dear Guide: My boss treats me poorly. I’ve tried speaking with her, but she gets defensive and dismisses my feedback. I asked her peer for advice and it was clear that my boss’s behaviour was well known and that – if I quit – she encouraged me to give a frank exit interview. I can’t go on like this, so am inclined to quit, but – my boss aside – I love my job.

– On the Verge

On the Verge: It is a manager’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their team. An environment where people feel free to express – and have heard – their concerns. Bosses needn’t always agree, but they should at least listen and understand.

Given you’ve tried to do this, you have two basic options:

  1. Quit
  2. Escalate the issue to your boss’s boss (or another person of authority)

I understand the temptation to quit. But it would be tragic for you to lose a job you love. And – assuming you’re good at it – your employer to lose a good employee, due to someone else’s failure.

Providing frank feedback in an exit interview is too late. It’s robbing your employer of the chance to address the problem before it gets worse (i.e. before they lose you).

And I understand any shyness you might feel about escalating the issue to your boss’s boss. In many cultures, we’re taught as children not to tell on people.

However, there’s another way of looking at this: you’re not telling on someone, you’re trying to help.

By speaking up before you quit, you’re doing everyone a service.

You’re providing an opportunity for your organisation, your boss and you:

  1. Your employer can act on the problem before losing you
  2. Your boss can get the kind of accountability she might need to improve her performance
  3. You get a chance at better working conditions, so you can keep the job you love and feel safe at work (with the same or a different boss)

If you quit and wait until the exit interview to speak up, you’re eliminating opportunities 1 and 3.

– The Guide

Thoughts? If you would like to share a response to today’s dilemma with the Guide and other readers, add a comment below.

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Send your questions by e-mail (no attachments, please) to guide@impactsociety.co. Brief questions are appreciated. We do not publish full names or other information that might identify you or your organisation. If you do not provide a pseudonym, then we will choose one for you.

This information is provided as general advice only and is not a substitute for obtaining professional advice. Impact Society does not accept liability for any action taken based on the information presented here or for any loss suffered as a result of reliance on it.

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