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Feeling Manipulated

Dear Office-Politics,

I am an assertive female who works in accounting, without a degree, but rather a psych education, and was wondering if there was another way I could have played these events more to my advantage. I think I am somewhat politically savvy, but I would still like your input.

I was hired at an entry level accounting position, believing it was to be a management position, per HR. The other person in the accounting department was scapegoated constantly for the office manager’s mistakes because of her inability to communicate proper procedures from the accountant. That person quit after two days of my hire.

After two months of resolving a lot of issues, sidestepping alot of unhealthy dynamics, being careful not to step on anyone’s toes, and providing creative solutions that worked, while the office manager had none, I realized that perhaps I had been manipulated to do a job that I was obviously overqualified for, and the management position I was counting on was nowhere in sight. I was informed by one of the accountants that a manager for the department was to be hired because the office manager “does not supporting the accounting department”. I replied that I was under the impression that was the position that I held. The accountant was very surprised and asked about my background. Soon after, I explained to the office manager that I believed there to be a miscommunication about my position, and that I would like the opportunity to renegotiate. She retorted, “This is all there is,” although in our initial interview I was informed otherwise.

I was soon informed by the accountant that she and the controller was to pay a visit to the office, and we were to have a discussion. They confirmed this on their arrival, but during their 2-day visit, no discussion ever ensued. Towards the end of the second day, it evident that the office manager was making sure no one would ever speak to me, so I approached the GM about discussing some things that I have had on my mind. He agreed, but only by phone the following evening. At the end of the day, I approached the office manager and asked what the decision was, and she said “I decided we don’t need a manager at this time”. She went on to discuss the game plan thereafter, assuming I would be content in this position, although I had informed her otherwise only a week prior. It became apparent to me that she was not going to share the reins of the office with anyone – ever.

The following morning, I called in, informing her that I wanted to take a personal day to consider the position that I was being offered. She called only a few hours later to terminate my employment, stating, “it isn’t a good fit”, although there is no one else in the accounting department to do the job. She has demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge in the simplest of tasks, so this department is headed for trouble. I did talk to the GM later that evening about the problems that had been ongoing, that the office manager was covering herself for whatever reason, and also mentioned that the solutions that had improved the department were mine. Only at the the end of the conversation did I inform him that I was terminated, and couldn’t repress a small chuckle. I informed him as I was willing to give a substantial notice, but was not given the opportunity, and now there’s no one to do the job, so there will be even more problems. He was shocked and said he “had no idea all of this was going on”, and closed with “I have no idea what to say”. I replied, “Well, if you ever require someone with my skills I would love to work for your company, and you have my number, so please don’t hesitate to call.”

Was there anything else I could have done differently? My skills far surpassed the job requirements, and I was functioning under a very low ceiling, and it was very distressing to me. Something had to give, and I lost the job. I would love your input.


Feeling Manipulated

peter garber

Dear Feeling Manipulated,

I am not sure that there is anything you could have done to have prevented what happened to you in this situation once you accepted and began the job. There obviously was a disconnect between what HR told you the job was supposed to be and what the Office Manager decided what the job was to be. I would guess that this difference in understanding about the duties and potential of the job is what ultimately determined your destiny in this position. What applicants are told or more accurately “sold” about a job and the reality of the job are often two different things. This causes many problems and disappointments for employees in many similar situations. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to put this unpleasant experience behind you and learn from it so you can be better prepared next time to avoid this kind of misunderstanding. It is always a good idea to have a clear understanding of what exactly the job that you are being hired for when accepting an new position. This is something that you might want to request a meeting about before you accept your next job or better yet to get in writing if you can. Perhaps if you had a meeting with both HR and the Office Manager together you wouldn’t have had the wrong expectations about the job.

There is something in your letter that particularly concerns me. Was there any connection between your asking for a meeting with the General Manager and your ultimate termination? Why did the General Manager only agree to a telephone conversation with you in the evening? Why did your termination occur the day after you asked for this meeting? If there is a connection between you asking for a meeting with the General Manager and being terminated this isn’t fair or right. It could also be retaliation which is a form of discrimination. You might wish to seek outside counsel to advise you or your rights and remedies you could pursue in this circumstance.

Good luck and I hope this advice helps. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.


Peter Garber, Author

Peter R. Garber has worked as an HR professional for over 25 years and is the author of many business books including: Winning the Rat Race at Work and 100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of your Boss.

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