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Author Topic: Should I Talk To My Boss?
Ginol_Enam
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So, I've been having some issues with one of my fellow managers at the theatre I work with; Mr. F. We get along fine... I guess most of the time, but occasionally, and more often lately, he just acts into this self-absorbed, power-hungry jerk who infuriates me on both a personal and professional level. I mean, one or two incidents I can forgive (and have) without incident, but it keeps on happening and I'm starting to get tired of it.

Examples:

One time I was doing the nightly inventory of our concessions and F was closing money. Those two managers are the last two people to leave at night, and each has to stay until the other is done. Well, I was doing pretty awesome. I had about everything except for the loose stuff counted nearly an hour before we closed, so I had some time to talk a bit with Mr. G. F, who opened the next morning, noticed me not counting and assumed that I was being lazy and not doing my job. Rather than asking me if I was done or not, he started talking to all the team members and team leaders (and Mr. G when we stopped talking) about how I wasn't counting like I should be and I was going to keep him late, etc. When I passed by him he told me rather forcedly to get in concession and start counting (I was on my way to finish up, anyway) and I tried to explain I was pretty much done, but he wouldn't listen.

Another time I was working both sides of projection and doing the auditorium checks on my own (which doesn't happen often and doesn't leave much time for anything else) and Mr. F was floor (which means he was in charge of the general operations of the building on that day, basically). We had a rental on this day and when I went downstairs really quick to squeeze in an aud check a couple of the rental people walked up to me on my way back. I apologized that I couldn't help them, I had a start in three minutes, but I would get my floor manager over to take care of them. I called him on the radio and said his assistance was needed. He asked what they wanted and I told him I didn't have time to really talk to them; I had a start. "What a great help you've been," he said. So, I started that movie and as I was heading back down F called me back on the radio and started telling me off. The rental people only wanted to introduce themselves, I should have talked to them, it would have taken two seconds, he was too busy writing the employee schedule to head downstairs. I told him that I was busy starting movies (you know, our business) and that he was floor and he needed to do his job.

Most recently I came in to close projection and do the nightly inventory. Mr. F was scheduled to work on the schedule and then run a promotional screening. When I first saw him he told me, in...well, in a tone, I guess, that he couldn't work the screening and that Mr. Fl or I would have to build up the film print and break it down. I said he could have asked me nicer, but okay. A few minutes later Fl and I were sitting at the break table and F was about to head down the elevator. Fl, who hadn't heard what was going on, innocently asked Ford if he was leaving, what about the screening, etc. F, rather rudely, said, "I'm leaving. You guys can laugh and snicker all you like, but I've talked to M" (our general manager). He left (this was made worse since we were really busy and understaffed; his presence would have been appreciated). The next day (yesterday, actually) he walked up to me as he was leaving and said some employees had walked up to him and told him that I told them that he had left on his own accord, without asking anyone. I had told them that he had left, but nothing else, and I told him that. Rather than believing me or giving the benefit of the doubt, though he had no reason to think I was lying, he said, "Well I don't know what I was said, but I didn't appreciate it and I don't expect it to happen again." I told him it didn't happen a first time. He started to walk away. After a second I made up my mind, caught up to him and told I didn't appreciate his rudeness the day before. He said, get this, that he wasn't rude while he kept walking on not even allowing me to get my own two cents out.

Of course those were just a few examples. There are other incidents and some more general things (like he thinks he outranks everyone for no reason, like he only does the jobs that will help him get promoted and tries to shove everything else to someone else, like he never goes out of his way to help anyone and tries to make a "deal" if you ask for help, etc.).

So, should I talk to our general manager about it?

[ December 13, 2007, 03:55 AM: Message edited by: Ginol_Enam ]

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ketchupqueen
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Quick tip: you may want to edit out those names, and use "Mr. F" and "Mr. G" or something instead.

Honestly, it sounds to me like it's mostly a personality conflict. In my experience, in such situations it's best to take the high road. One thing I noticed in what you wrote is that you often try to argue or rebut what he says when he's criticizing you. Let me tell you, as much as you want him to understand your position, it usually just doesn't do any good. And he can twist anything you say against you if you try to argue-- better just to accept his criticism and keep your mouth shut, even if you are in the right.

As far as that last incident, it sounds to me like he already feels alienated and disliked at work. He felt like you "tattled" or gossiped about him to the employees, even if all you said was that he was gone. If employees ask in the future where he is when he has left you short-staffed, it may be best to say, "He had to leave for personal reasons, if you have any questions please ask him" or something similar, that makes it clear he had a reason to leave and that they should clarify it with him if they want to know why.

As far as complaining: I wouldn't complain to the GM about things that don't involve him directly not doing his job. And even those things, I would tread lightly; I would bring it up if it becomes a problem, but be careful to phrase it as, "We had a bit of a situation when Mr. F left so-and-so undone and it put us in the position of having to do such-and-such to clear it up. I am wondering if we can do something to ensure that in the future we have a solution worked out for such circumstances." You know, making it more about the solution to a problem, and less about his bad behavior. Also, you might want to work to make him feel respected and included (even if you think you already do so, it may be that he is one of those people who won't notice without an extra effort.) That might go a long way toward improving his attitude, if he felt respected by the employees, if he felt you treat him like a respected colleague, and he doesn't feel excluded or like he is being gossipped about behind his back. And effective communication sounds like it would be helpful when he does something that leaves you upset.

Instead of going to the manager (or considering it), a note or conversation one-on-one to him consisting of a "When you, I feel" statement may be helpful. If you have never used those, they go like this: "When you do or say exact thing that was said or done, in non-judgemental terms or exact quotation, I feel express what you feel without assigning blame or making a judgement." You can then continue with a non-judgemental suggestion of a solution, such as, "In the future, if you feel that such-and-such thing is not being done and that I should do it, I would appreciate it if you would pull me aside to speak to me directly about it, and after I have listened respectfully to your complaint, give me a chance to explain my actions or inaction." Conclude with a concilatory statement such as "I hope in the future we can work together on even footing, as friends and colleagues, and that we can work out this problem effectively and without rancor so that the company's business continues to run ever more smoothly." I learned that technique in Life Skills class in 8th grade and while I scoffed at the time, I can't tell you how many times it has facilitated respectful and open discussion of issues and seeing each others' side of the problem.

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Ginol_Enam
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Your advice makes sense for my personal problems with him, but I have a few "professional" problems that really bother me as well, and make working with him a bother, which is why figured it might be best to bring it up to the GM...

For example, "Mr. F" has his eye on advancement. I mean, everybody wants to be promoted, but occasionally it seems that's all he cares about is doing what needs to be done to advance. This also means, of course, he's very reluctant to do things that won't help him advance and he will try to shove them off on other people. He has never officially been taught how to build a print, for example, and he constantly uses that as an excuse to...well, not build prints even though he's best positioned to get it done. This wouldn't be that big of a deal if he also didn't avoid learning so he could keep this excuse.

He also acts as if he's already been promoted, or as if his seniority (he's been with the theatre since we opened; I came a few months after, but we're both now AM3s) gives him "ranking" privileges.

Stuff like that, you know, can't really be helped by telling him he doesn't rank over me, you know?

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AvidReader
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I generally find that this type of guy doesn't stay in one place long. Assume he won't do any work and plan around him. Try not to talk to anyone else where he can see you since he'll assume you're slacking. He'll probably decide he isn't appreciated soon enough and go find something else.

I had a head teller like that once, except she was a liar to boot. She'd talk to me about my number of transactions and when I updated the log that night, I'd see that she had completely made up numbers and I'd really been doing more than her all along. She got bored with us after about 6 months.

Nature has given us a beautiful inverse realtionship there. The more obnoxious someone is to work with, the less time they tend to keep a job.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Well said, both ketchupqueen and AvidReader.

---

Edited to add: Ginol_Enam, it looks to me to be nearly impossible for you to complain to the General Manager without tarring yourself in some way. No matter how you do it, your professional image will also suffer -- this isn't right, and it isn't fair, but this is the way it tends to work. The best thing to do (I think) is try to do your best to work it out (as ketchupqueen outlines) and failing that, just keep your head down, suck it up, and wait it out (as AvidReader notes).

This is part of the reason why our parents and other adults were always so grumpy about work when we were growing up. (*grin) Worklife is generally a morass of petty unfairnesses, along with whatever goodnesses may reign. When you try to correct the inequities, often you will suffer with that, too -- so pick the battles you do want to fight carefully, and make sure they are well worth it.

[ December 13, 2007, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Teshi
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quote:
Mr. F
Obligatory Arrested Development Reference.
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Ginol_Enam
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quote:
Originally posted by AvidReader:
I generally find that this type of guy doesn't stay in one place long. Assume he won't do any work and plan around him. Try not to talk to anyone else where he can see you since he'll assume you're slacking. He'll probably decide he isn't appreciated soon enough and go find something else.

I had a head teller like that once, except she was a liar to boot. She'd talk to me about my number of transactions and when I updated the log that night, I'd see that she had completely made up numbers and I'd really been doing more than her all along. She got bored with us after about 6 months.

Nature has given us a beautiful inverse realtionship there. The more obnoxious someone is to work with, the less time they tend to keep a job.

Well, the problem with that is....well... that's not how it is. He opened with the theatre in 2004 as a team member and risen his way up (I came in 8 months later and did the same; we're on the same level now). So, he's not going to be leaving soon. He thinks he has tenure and is next in line for promotion to senior manager, etc.

I think, though, that I'll have a better time talking my general manager than you guys think because I don't believe its a "normal" boss/employee kind of thing. I mean, yeah, he's the guy in charge, but he's not just the guy who sits in an office making sure everyone stays in line, you know? He's also pretty big on his "open door" policy, so we can go in and talk to him about anything...

He has said that he'd prefer we take care of little personal problems ourselves, and so I'll talk to Mr. F. But I think if it doesn't work out (if Mr. F is unwilling to compromise) I'll be justified in talking to the GM.

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ketchupqueen
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Well, like CT and AvidReader said, it's still best to minimize your PERSONAL problems with him, and emphasize the problems he is causing the COMPANY. Because if he has been there since it opened, the GM, no matter how kind, is likely to not be as open as one would hope to personal complaints against him; unfortunately I have seen people in similar situations be answered with "Well, for 3 years no one else has complained about his personality, so it seems to just be you. And if it's just you, why should I keep YOU?" That's why, as I said, you need to be really careful to not focus on the personal problems with him when you make your case, and, as I said in my original post, focus on concrete, exact circumstances and problems, and have the goal of the conversation be finding a solution, not complaining about the other guy.
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TL
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Ginol, this might sound strange. I think I may have a very specific perspective on this. As in: crazily, weirdly specific. I'm going to email you if you don't mind. I think I can help.
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ClaudiaTherese
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Well, I wish you the best of luck, Ginol_Enam. Let us know how it all turns out.
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Shanna
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Having worked in a movie theatre growing up, I know the kind of guy you're describing. Thankfully, I moved alot and did mostly seasonal work so I didn't have to deal with the drama that always follows promotion.

I knew shift leads like this, assistant managers like this, and heck, our general manager was a do-the-bare-minimum kind of guy too. They were there before I started and they will probably be at that same movie theatre for a VERY long time after. The best thing to do is find a way for you handle the situation yourself, whether its talking to Mr. F or learning to ignore him.

You can talk to the general manager, at which point I would have a long list ready for problems specific to the financial gain and successful running of the theatre. Unless he's hurting the bottom line, your boss may not have enough cause for taking any real action. At best, what can do he do? Talk to Mr. F about his attitude? But if he can't suspend him or begin corrective action for being a jerk, what initiative will Mr. F have for changing his behavior? Working at a movie theatre, I dealt with coworkers who used excessive profanity or got away with verbal sexual harrassment but as often as our manager talked to them, it never stopped.

Seriously, its probably best just to ignore him. Do your work the best you can so he has less to attack you with, and then just brush it off if it does. As long as you do your job and get paid while in a safe and secure working environment, that's the most you can really ask for.

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TL
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I emailed you. For the record, I don't think the personal conflict should be emphasized and I don't think it should be emphasized that the assistant is hurting the company. Neither is productive. I think what is productive is if you can find a way to try to get on the same page, understanding that probably you are both trying to do good things for the company and be good managers according to your individual understanding. (Which is what seems to be in conflict.) Help from you GM may be required. Or it may not be required, but it may be effective. The email is much more specific...

Good luck!

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TomDavidson
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The email says "I am the district manager. Cut it out." [Wink]
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TL
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Close! If Ginol and I don't work for the same company, we work for companies with some very, very similar stuff in place.
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Ginol_Enam
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I think it might be best if we didn't reveal what company/ies we work for, yes? Just in case...

Anyway, I think I know what I'm going to do. Both Mr. F and the GM are in tomorrow; I'll let you guys know what happens [Smile]

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Tante Shvester
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Digitalis in the Pepsi is less discernible than Potassium Chloride.


Just sayin'.

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Ginol_Enam
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So, a bit of an anti-climactic end [Smile]

I went up to Mr. F and said, "So, a few days ago when..." and then someone walked into the office... So I paused and followed him into ops and started again, "So, a few days ago..."

And he jumped in and said, "A few days ago we were both just having a bad day."

Theoretically, my bad day was because of him, but I didn't think it was worth it to argue that point so I said, "Oh. Okay." And he said, "Yeah."

And that was that. At least for the one incident mutual understanding was reached, so I didn't feel it was necessary to discuss it with the GM.

So...

[Smile]

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Tatiana
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This is really interesting because something similar to this happens in workplaces all over the place all the time. People can be jerks at work. Here's my take.

First of all, I try to remember why I'm there. My why is that we're all there playing a game called "generate electricity" (in my case), yours might be "give happy experiences to theatergoers", or whatever. The point of the game is joy, no matter what the specifics of the game are. The one who generates the most joy in themselves and those around them wins.

So like if I do something that blows up the plant, that's a big big minus. So I do constant vigilance to keep that from happening. Each action I can do is ranked according to the joy factor.

So, to start with, nasty spiteful people at work come way way down on the list of what matters. That helps me keep it in perspective and not let my own joy be ruffled by them.

Secondly, I realize I can't force anyone to act any way at all. I'm not in charge of their actions, and can't change them. So I don't try to get people who won't work to work, or people who are nasty to be nicer, or anything of the sort. That's all up to them. All I can do is choose how I treat people, how hard I work, and so on.

For people who report to me, I try to lead by example, by working really hard myself, by being clear about what they need to do, and by recognizing them and thanking them for the good things they do.

For people on my same level, when I have a choice about whom to work with on a given project, I choose the best people, the nicest, hardest working, and easiest to work with people. When I don't have a choice, and I'm working with someone who doesn't know how to do his job, I try to foster them, be a mentor, and help them do what they need to do, to the extent that I'm able.

When I have to work directly with someone really foul and bitter and angry, I go out of my way to be extra nice to them because they are so miserable. They have so much unhappiness. I try to be funny and see if I can get them to laugh, for instance. See, because a chuckle from someone bitter like that is worth zillions of joy points. They don't have many friends (if any) and so if you act as a friend to them, you're the only one. You could be making the most tremendous difference for the better in their life.

But as for getting your own work done, so as to keep the theatergoers having good experiences, just make sure you take care of that and don't let anyone else's bad behavior bother you.

I would definitely not go to the boss over this. Bosses absolutely don't have time to arbitrate between bickering employees, and tend to just fire them all and start over with a new bunch who can get along with each other.

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Starsnuffer
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I agree with Tatiana, and my advice was going to be to just wait and see if there was some personal issue that was just testing his nerves last week, making him more... unpleasant that normal.
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