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How Do I Make My Boss Recognize My Productivity?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been working at my job since the building opened about 5 months ago. I was usually working 5-6 shifts a week (35-40 hours) & have recently been cut down to 2-3 shifts a week (15-20 hours). My work ethic/pace has not changed at all, but my manager keeps telling me that I work too slow. I know for a fact that that is not true and I have tried asking the other managers and even the General Manager for help, getting the same response from all of them: "That's not my department, talk to YOUR manager" He also seems to blame me for things that I didn't even do and has called me names like idiot or moron on several occasions. I have tried contacting my works HR, but never received a response. This is my only job, and I work hard to ensure I keep it. Now I feel like the manager is threatening my job security with false accusations.
While there are a couple of possible reasons for your problem, there is one thing that is for sure: Your boss is a jerk. No matter how bad an employee is, no boss should throw derogatory epithets at their employees.

The irony of me telling you that your boss should not be calling you names, right after I've called him a jerk is not lost on me. I called him that because his behavior is appalling and that is a term which accurately describes him, even if it is a bit rude.

Which brings me to my next point: It's possible that you are working too slowly. Your boss shouldn't be calling you names, but consider for a moment the possibility that you're not a great performer. The fact that no one else wants to get involved may also indicate that you aren't performing well. A good general manager will go to bat for a good employee (sometimes), but if you're not performing at a high level, there's no way the GM wants to undermine one of her managers.

The other possibility is that the whole place is messed up. The HR department should get back to you, even if the problem is you and not your boss. The General Manager should look into the possibility that you're being treated unfairly. Other managers, however, should generally stay out of it. It's very hard to assess someone's work when you haven't been paying attention to that person. And the reality is, the other managers have their own problems.

What you need to do is take a good hard look at your own performance. You say you "know for a fact" that you are a good performer. How? Document your productivity. I don't know what work you do, but you can keep track of what you do during a shift. When you have a few shifts worth of evidence, sit down with your boss and say, "I'd like to make improvements to my performance. I've kept track of what I've accomplished in the past few days. Could you possibly help me identify areas in which I can improve?"

At this point, your manager will either tell you where you are lacking, or he'll roll his eyes at you and tell you that he doesn't have time for this kind of ridiculousness. If you get the former response, listen, because he actually means it. If you go through this exercise and then ignore the advice, you're doomed to failure in this job. Take the advice and apply it.

If, on the other hand, he rolls his eyes at you, it's doubtful that you'll be successful in this job. It may not be your fault. You may be a genius and your boss just doesn't like you. That's lousy, but it's the reality. Start looking for a new job.

While you are looking for a new job, try again with HR. Take your documentation and ask them for help. They should be responsive. Unfortunately, not all HR people are responsive. I wish they were, but it's not always the case. Keep in mind that your boss won't appreciate you attempting to "go over his head" (either to HR or the General Manager), but he's already lost faith in you. You can also try for an internal transfer, although since you've been there 5 months, it's unlikely. Many companies don't allow you to transfer until you've been in a position for a year.

Unfortunately, we can't always make bad bosses into good ones, and we have to deal with what we've got. Try to improve your performance, and think about job hunting. Sometimes it's the best we can do.

Photo by ralphbijker, Flickr cc 2.0

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