Bully at Work Moody Boss Karma Office Gossip No Picnic Back stabber Plug your Ears Moody Boss

Dr. John Burton responds

dr. john burton
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. He teaches Personal and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Faculty of Management at the University of British Columbia in the Okanagan. John has also taught alternative dispute resolution at Queen’s Law School and Ethics at the Schulich School of Business. John holds a very special place on the Office-Politics Advisory Board. John was the very first Office-Politics Adviser and has answered letters since 2002. His contribution made the CTV national news in 2003 for answering ‘difficult and thorny issues’ that are sent in to the site. Some things never change!

My problem… My manager

My problem… My Manager. I am at my wits end. I honestly don’t know where to turn. I know that if I were to do the things my boss does, I would have been fired! Dr. John Burton responds, “You are indeed in a delicate and difficult situation. You are right to be very cautious in how you deal with it. The first consideration is your personal safety, both physically and psychologically. Dealing with your manager may provoke a retributive response from him. Even if he did not become violent, it appears likely that he would do all that he could to make life unpleasant for you if he was aware that you were behind any disciplinary action from upper management.”

Bosses act like I don’t have a life outside of work

I had enough of the pressures that have been thrown at me and I quit my job by walking out. Dr. John Burton responds, “One way to think of your action is as a personal strike. Strikes are labor’s way of telling management that working conditions are unsatisfactory and need to change. In this case, management seems to have got the message.”

Credit Stolen by a Backstabber!

I have had first hand experience with a back stabber. I just completed a report on a new idea I had and I wanted another opinion on it before I presented it to my boss. Dr. John Burton responds, “Yes. That does sound like a classic case of back-stabbing. And it won’t surprise you to hear that the theft of ideas, and people taking credit for work they have not done, is happening in offices all around the world.”

Defensive supervisor poisons workplace

The atmosphere is terrible. People no longer like coming to work, meetings are tense, and no one is speaking up. I took a risk and went to my supervisor’s supervisor… Dr. John Burton responds, “Going to your supervisor’s supervisor was a wise move. I don’t think you did it prematurely, rather it was the appropriate move after confronting your supervisor directly without any success in changing the situation.”

Is organization trying to force me to quit?

I am really starting to think that now that the office is here in this new city, they won. They are just trying to make my life miserable to the point that I just leave without them having to fire me. What do I do? Dr. John Burton advises, “I hear your concern about the need to stay employed and the costs incurred for a new home when you took this position. While those pressures are real, they are not worth the cost to your health and wellbeing that comes from staying in an uncomfortable situation. If you feel little prospect of a positive response from your boss, or if things just don’t feel like they are improving, I urge you to consult with a colleague or mentor outside the organization who can help you obtain an objective perspective and consider making a change.”

Should employees “kiss up” to get ahead?

Does it mean that one’s education and many years of company loyalty means nothing if you don’t kiss up? Dr. John Burton advises, “Behavior that may look like “kissing up” to someone who is cynical may in fact be a good working relationship. Is there perhaps a combination of personal warmth and competence here?”

I can’t stand the backstabbing…

I can’t stand the backstabbing of the general public. I have now become self employed… I refuse to stab myself in the back. Dr. John Burton advises, “While it is difficult to stab oneself in the back, you need to be aware of the injuries that are common to the self-employed; shooting yourself in the foot and falling on your sword.”

Coworker treats people like garbage because they dress “ghetto”

It’s my full belief that if an African American person dressed in baggy clothes walked into the establishment and was greeted by her, they would be treated entirely different than a Caucasian person… Dr. John Burton advises, “What you describe your co-worker doing is indeed reprehensible behavior. I commend you for your own exemplary behavior toward those who are disadvantaged. Were this a situation which had arisen only recently I would suggest that you take your colleague aside and speak with her about her behavior. That would be difficult to do with any moral authority at this stage, however, since you have stood by for some time and said nothing.”

The boss’ little pet is a big snitch…

What do you do about a coworker who is not only a big snitch in the bunch but who is also the boss’ little pet? Dr. John Burton advises,” What you have described in a few words raises a major issue in the workplace, that of worker loyalty. Though employers usually seek to foster loyalty to the company, the deepest ties of loyalty in many firms run from employee to employee.”

Frustrated by a Flirt / Male point of view

When a female boss flirts in the presence of male subordinates, would it be considered professional? Dr. John Burton advises,” The underlying question that arises for me is the impact of this behaviour on you and on others in the workplace. If it creates difficulty in conducting business or carries the risk of leading to difficulty then it may be wise to address it. ”

There is an extremely hot looking contract worker

There is an extremely hot looking contract worker here… She wears mini skirts and loves coming by so I can smell her perfume. Dr. John Burton advises,”Put an icepack in your pants. That will solve your dilemma… If a mini skirt and perfume have you thinking about cheating on your wife your first priority should be to straighten out your relationship at home. ”

I’m holding onto the company key…

I still have the company key and don’t want to hand it in yet because I feel like someone pulled the rug out from under me… Dr. John Burton advises, “The key is your employer’s and should be returned. The fact that you feel ill used by your employer does not affect your legal obligation to respect his decision to terminate your employment…”

My ‘chatter-box’ coworker is driving me crazy!

A co-worker that has his office next to mine spends most of his day talking to his wife and kids on the phone. It drives me crazy! Talking to my boss is out of the question, he is very old school and thinks “women” are below men. Dr. John Burton advises, “In three short lines, you have identified two major dilemmas. Not only does your co-worker’s phone chatter drive you crazy, but you have a boss who has left you feeling he is unapproachable…”

CFO made anti-Semitic remarks…

What to do when the CFO makes anti-Semitic remarks in front of the General Manager and Human Resources and no one corrects her during a meeting? Dr. John Burton advises,”You are immersed in a situation fraught with difficulties. Let me try to unravel what you have raised. The first point is that the CFO made anti-Semitic remarks which are inappropriate whatever the setting. Since other senior managers were present and did nothing one question that arises is what responsibility falls on you to address this issue….”

Desperately seasick in the Navy

I am having an awful time at my job. I’m in the U.S. Navy, so I can’t quit. And AWOL or a dishonorable discharge is out of the question. Dr. John Burton advises,”I would advise you to proceed with great caution. The first step might be to find a person you trust who is outside of the office in which you work, but who knows you and the military well…”

Getting everyone in a room just made things worse

My Boss put them in a room with 3 other people and tried to get it resolved. It didn’t work. Dr. John Burton advises,”Your decision to speak to your boss was the right one, even though the outcome seems no better than the previous situation…”

Mental health disorder label is hurting me

During that time it became clear that my mental health information had been widely circulated and that my interactions with people were negatively affected by the opinions of my former supervisor. Dr. John Burton advises,”Your situation is indeed a difficult one. It is challenging to try to unravel the origins of the attitudes that people have toward us…”

Feeling mugged at work

I feel that I have been mugged at work and the mugger is still allowed to mug me further… Dr. John Burton advises,”Your letter identifies quite a number of issues that are potentially problematic. Unfortunately my response is similar to that of the Human Rights Commission…”

The Silent Treatment

My co-worker and I had a personal disagreement which caused her to become angry, and she’s been giving me the “silent treatment” for over a month now. I tried to apologize, but she ignored it… Dr. John Burton advises,”I think that your instinct to involve your boss is a good one. Either your boss or some other person in the organization needs to intervene to work through this situation. Obviously it is causing you too much stress to be ignored…”

Pregnant Expectations

Last week, she told me that she and husband had decided to stop birth control in April and, lo and behold, she is expecting… Dr. John Burton advises,”You express general support for this woman and for her decision to have a family. It is the breach of your understanding that is really sticking in your craw…”

Fed-Up-Of-Boss-Again! Updated In May 2006

My boss is pressuring me to take over another area… Like telling that openly at meetings. I refused (openly) and now he is mad with me… Dr. John Burton advises,”My suggestion is to help your boss be a better boss by arranging a private meeting to discuss your future within the organization…”

Working For A Jealous Boss

My immediate boss is insanely jealous of me and has tried to trip me up quite a few times… Dr. John Burton advises,”Ask if there is a way that the two of you can avoid such an embarrassing situation as you mention, yet still give her the scope to provide you with direction and feedback when she feels it is genuinely needed.”

Supervisor Is Missing In Action

The office supervisor is ‘missing in action’ most of the time and is completely incompetent as a supervisor… Dr. John Burton advises,”If your supervisor has been in this position for 15 years then she must be meeting the expectations of her managers… It is not an easy situation to address from your position, but I urge you to do something…”

How To Deal With A Jealous Boss

Most recently, she embarrassed me in front of a meeting of 20-30 people. Because of this, I have thought of leaving many times… Dr. John Burton advises,”I would suggest that you then tell her what your perceptions are about her behaviour, but be prepared to hear her perceptions as well… It is unfortunate, but often employees have to help their supervisors to be good managers, otherwise the employee suffers the consequences.”

Is Speaking Out In Bad Taste?

When the Personnel Manager took me to lunch — I told her that I was insulted and subjected to racism by two employees… Dr. John Burton advises, “When you are speaking to someone, particularly someone in a position of authority about a co-worker you should first ask yourself two questions. 1) Could I take a first step to address this behaviour? And 2) Why am I telling this?”

Management Failure

Five years later, I am in a living hell… I have tried everything possible to try to have a friendly professional relationship with her to no avail… Dr. John Burton responds, “What you describe is a failure on the part of management. Despite the differences between government and private sector employers, there is no way that a manager should tolerate an employee as obstinately uncooperative and unproductive as the person you describe.”

Anxious Postal Worker

I believe they are trying to set me up for a nosedive and lose my job… Dr. John Burton responds, ” What you describe is a very unhealthy work situation for yourself. When things reach the point where you can describe yourself as “paranoid” and “miserable”, you need to take some action.

I have been witness to thefts of office supplies, and illegal drug thefts, and have been helpless against all of them… John Burton responds

I work in accounting with the most hated employee in the whole company… John Burton responds

In spite of all my skills and experience, I am at the bottom of the office totem pole… John Burton responds

My new Manager has mentioned that she hates the city, and can’t see a way out of debt, so she may as well go home and kill herself… John Burton responds

Last week, one of our co-workers was attacked at work… John Burton responds

One day when we were alone my Boss tried to grab me… John Burton responds

A co-worker took credit for a project I have been working on — and passed it off as his own! John Burton responds

My employer wants me to work extra hours for ‘no pay’ in order to cover past of the cost on the broken artwork. John Burton responds

My boss makes comments that are rude and abusive, then chalks it up to ‘sarcasm’… John Burton responds

One of the lawyers, an extremely competitive ‘superjock’, is literally a loose cannon who goes off on people for no apparent reason… John Burton responds

I was threatened with dismissal and even attempted assault… John Burton responds

I tallied who was doing what… John Burton responds

Our receptionist became a favorite to the new GM… John Burton responds

A male co-worker and I were pretty fond of one another…. John Burton responds

I have two female colleagues who were complaining about everyone non-stop…. John Burton responds

The company no longer treats me with the same amount of respect that they used to… John Burton responds

The Boss’ wife is very jealous of me, to the point where it has turned into harassment… Franke James and John Burton respond

All 3 routinely take the same days off… John Burton responds

Do I have any rights to find out who evaluated me, making me lose my post and my raise? John Burton responds

Makes my life as difficult as possible and talks about me behind my back… John Burton responds

My old boss retired and I can’t seem to get on the right side of the new one… John Burton responds

My desire to leave an unpleasant work environment… John Burton responds

I have a problem with my Supervisor… John Burton responds

What do you do when a boss takes credit… John Burton responds

What type of volunteer work would help a person learn how to deal with office politics? John Burton responds

There is one co-worker in my group who is not doing her work… John Burton responds

There are some 20-something women in an office clique, who don’t like men… John Burton responds

My co-workers have the boss convinced that they know what they’re doing, and my ideas are always squashed… John Burton responds

We do not feel we have to ‘brown nose’ or brag about our every accomplishment… John Burton responds

I somehow stepped on the boss’ tail and now he is trying to bite me… John Burton responds

Our office was informed that we would be going through renovations… John Burton responds

I’m the boss and my employees walk all over me… John Burton responds

I am resented by some of the other employees… John Burton responds

My boss and I don’t seem to have chemistry… John Burton responds

I am told by our manager that it isn’t a good idea to have this office party… John Burton responds

She is taking credit for all the work I do… John Burton responds

My Boss is too powerful in terms of influence on others… John Burton responds

One of my office mates is attempting to gather personal information about his female co-workers… John Burton responds

My new Boss wants me to give him my business cards that I have collected over the months… John Burton responds

My problem is they complain about everything… John Burton responds

Our management team is young and they have a clique… John Burton responds

Are there any particular ways of pushing for a position… John Burton responds

I have a boss that totally loses it over next to nothing… John Burton responds

Fears for tears… John Burton responds

My boss sometimes unzips his pants… John Burton responds

I am tired of being the fall guy… John Burton responds

They all have the same problem of accusing me for their problems… John Burton responds

What do you do with an emotionally manipulative micromanager boss? John Burton responds

Some staff members think they are better than the rest of us… John Burton responds

The boss tried to tarnish my name… John Burton responds

While assisting to rebuild a company, my efforts go continuously unnoticed… John Burton responds

The company has rejected my request for a pay and grade increase equivalent to the person I’m replacing… John Burton responds

My husband works in a department that consists of people quite the opposite of him… John Burton responds

The staff is lazy … The hypocrite wants to get rid of my wife… John Burton responds

My Boss thinks I want to outshine her… John Burton responds

This rep is a compliance nightmare… John Burton responds

My department hired a woman that has received intense one on one training… John Burton responds

My revenge: I plan to order in pizza for the entire office… John Burton responds

As I’m implementing the contract, I end up with a new boss… John Burton responds

It took me two days to realize that the boss was a cruel and abusive mental case… John Burton responds

Things became quite difficult when the boss brought his son into the business and promoted him quickly… John Burton responds

How critical are office politics affecting a corporation’s vision statement? John Burton responds

Wherever I go somebody knows somebody who knows me, and they have an axe to grind… John Burton responds

I have applied for 2 positions and received none… John Burton responds

After moving 4000 miles to accept a position, the organisation told me that the position had changed… John Burton responds

There is some crazy financing going on… John Burton responds

I have deep misgivings concerning the reputation of the boss… John Burton responds

How do you recycle into a new field of work, when your age is… John Burton responds

Paper trails can work both ways… John Burton responds

I am the lone administrator in our office… John Burton responds

I signed a non-compete clause…otherwise I would not have been hired… John Burton responds

A co-worker that has his office next to mine spends most of his day talking to his wife and kids on the phone…” John Burton responds

My Branch Manager recently promoted a good friend… He is horribly inept… John Burton responds

I am loaded with doing 3-4 people’s jobs all at once. I am making less than everyone in the office… John Burton responds

I used to work for a security company. The problem is that… John Burton responds

My boss hates the boss above them and so on and so on…so my cries for more… John Burton responds

My boss tried everything in her power to get me fired… John Burton responds

There is an extremely hot looking contract worker here… John Burton responds

I have had first hand experience with a back-stabber. I had just completed a report on a new idea when…John Burton responds