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When Your Boss Won't Train You

When Your Boss Won't Train You

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I recently stumbled across your blog and love it! I have read through many of your posts looking for advice on terrible, micromanaging bosses who communicate poorly, yell and belittle frequently, and seem to play favorites in the office.

I’ve been here less than a year and have never received any formal training. I was told that I was hired at a high level and should “just know”. When I press for details or clarity, it is met with tremendous frustration and ridicule by the boss. I have had no experience in the industry and my boss knew that when she hired me. I get yelled at on a day to day basis. I am told my decisions are poor and that I don’t look at the big picture. My boss frequently has other employees check my work. It’s always degrading.

I can’t really figure out the issues and have actually tried to ask her directly and have been open to feedback. Asking questions only inspires more hostility, so I’ve given up. I’m not even performing the type of work that was described to me during my job interview. I am trying to just keep a low profile as I search for other work.

Since the economy is so poor, I’m anticipating having to put up with more of this abuse for at least a few more months. I just want to make it as painless as possible. I can’t really afford to be unemployed at this point. My question… much of your advice involves bringing HR into the situation. So, where do you go if the boss, the Senior Director of HR, is the problem?

Actually, I avoid recommending HR for issues like this. I’m a big fan of trying to work things out directly with your manager — because while some HR types can help in situations like this, a lot can’t … and when you don’t find that out until after you’ve already gone to them, it can poison the relationship with your boss further. So you really, really want to ask yourself what you know about what sort of track record you’ve seen HR (or in your case, another higher-level manager, someone senior to your boss) have with other people in situations like this. If you know they’re discreet, fair, and willing to intervene when someone is being mistreated, ask for help. But if you aren’t sure, be aware that it’s a gamble.

Here’s what I think is going on, based on the information here: Your boss hired someone without experience to do a job that requires experience, or at least training. And your boss is not just a jerk, but also a bad manager. And as a result, she’s taking a problem of her own making — hiring someone without the necessary experience — and taking it out on you.

Yelling is never acceptable. Refusing to give you feedback or answer questions? Pretty much shooting herself in the foot, guaranteeing that the problems that are causing her so much frustration are going to continue. Keeping an employee who is clearly struggling, but not actually handling the situation (whether through coaching or training or even just candid conversations)? Really bad management. Dereliction of duty, in fact.

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