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To be frank, the Boss has been brutal...
Last week the HR director in my company asked me if my boss has been
acting particularly difficult or "off " lately. He had sent
out some particularly scathing e-mails lately. I mentioned that he had
been somewhat "aggressive in his decision making however he probably
has a lot going on now ".
My problem is this. The Human Resource Director went to my boss with some complaints about how he'd been acting. When my boss claimed people were over reacting the HR director mentioned that I had complained as well. (which I did not). Now I am confident my boss is "out to get me. He has been extremely tough on me the past few days. He drills down on the smallest of issues and seems to seek every opportunity to nail me to the wall. We both travel and are rarely physically in the same place. Now he 's asked to see me in person next week. This has me very stressed. I like my job and my boss. I need to fix this.
I really need to re-establish some trust and get my boss back to his "old way" of doing things.
Please help. I want to do this while still maintaining trust with the HR director.
Burned by HR
Dear Burned by HR,
Your first allegiance is to the company, as your employer, not your
immediate Boss. So you have a difficult balancing act.
Right now, you are the meat in the sandwich. And you are being squeezed from both sides. The HR director is using you as leverage to prove his point: the Boss is stressed and needs to cool down (which is not a bad idea, after all he needs to consider the well-being of all employees). The Boss is pushing back, aggressively, to prove he is still in control, but he is feeling insecure.
Obviously, your Boss is going through a difficult personal crisis. While you may not be chummy with him, it may be helpful for you to address the emotional turmoil he is undergoing, directly. Understand that he is wondering who is on his side. The HR director has cast doubt as to whom he can trust.
Tell your Boss the essence of what you wrote in this letter. Acknowledge that there are some problems with his behavior, but assure him you are ready to support him. Ask for his feedback on how you can help him. Listen carefully to his response.
You may be able to recount a personal story where you have struggled, and then emerged 'okay'. Think of yourself as a 'big ear'. Let him unload his problems, or yell at you without taking offense. It is likely getting through on some level. Follow-up with a short email that reinforces your support and willingness to help him.
There are two ways this can go. Either your Boss will pull himself together, and everything will return to 'normal'. Or he will implode/explode and there will be significant fallout. You offering support to him in a time of trouble should not alienate you from the HR director. You are only doing what any decent human being would do. And you are further protecting the other employees at the company.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
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