I resigned from a job once. It was both weird and surreal and something I’ll never forget.
A week before it was a ‘business as usual’ Friday. A bit of social chatter and a lot of heads down working. Then came the attack. The boss responded to a comment from a female staff member about how much time it would take her to train the new staff. She was optimistic about it and gave the boss a realistic assessment. Like a psychopath he aimed for her office with guns blazing.
I didn’t expect it as she is a strong woman, but once he finished his tirade, he’d left her in tears. I went to talk to her, encouraging her to go home. She stayed for her shift out of loyalty to her work colleagues.
As I returned to my desk, my co-worker asked me a work related question. I begged her pardon. She repeated the query. I pointed out that a staff member was in tears. She said she hadn’t noticed. Thirty seconds later she asked me another work related question.
I made my decision
With an hour and a half left until I was due to go home, I made a decision. Around me no one seemed to care that their co-worker had been driven to tears by the boss. I stood up, packed my things and shut down my computer. There was no way I would allow these circumstances to rob my soul of the human condition.
A week later I was back in the office. It was a normal Monday until half an hour before I was due to go home. My boss called me into his office and started on me. I was wearing a white ribbon, indicating that I didn’t support violence against women in any form, including verbal abuse.
His reasoning was in a word, pathetic. Everything from ‘He’s known the staff member longer than I had’; ‘It was none of my business’ and the disgraceful ‘Next time it happens, just shut the door so you don’t have to listen to it.’ With the latter I should have responded ‘Why? So you can slap her and have no witnesses?’
I argued vehemently, reminding him that he’d caused the scene and made it everyone’s business, and that bringing someone to tears is disgraceful behaviour. Frustrated he said to me ‘Well it won’t happen again’. I replied ‘Good, because it should never have happened in the first place’ to which he replied (taken aback) ‘No, I meant you leaving early’. I responded although I can’t remember what I said.
Within thirty seconds of returning to my desk I was emailed a cautionary letter about my self-given early mark – something that the boss could not write in thirty seconds. I replied stating that I would not be bullied into accepting his disgusting display as normal behaviour. I mentioned that in all my years in the workforce I had never seen such an unprofessional display from a manager. I added ‘take this as my resignation letter’ and said that I’d give him a week to fill my position. He accepted my resignation but was happy to pay me out for the rest of the week as I was free to leave that day.
No great loss
Imagine a boss who can’t manage. Whose decisions are based not on what work needs to be done, but on feeling superior. No, I’m not just sprouting ‘sour grapes’, this was the boss. So many important things could not be tended to because of lack of staff or staff hours, and like a gambler, quick wins were more important than building toward success.
The best example of his style happened on my first day alone after hand over. When it was time for me to go home, my peripheral vision could see him standing, waiting. He charged at me with ‘urgent work’ that ‘had to be completed before I went home’.
I turned to him as he was making his escape to his office, reminding him that in my contract it said that no overtime was paid. He did a double take. I repeated myself. He nodded. I told him loud and clear in front of the other staff members that I would take note of the time it would take me to complete the task and deduct it from my hours the next day. Ten minutes later he came to me and told me that the work could wait until the next day.
It was a warning of the year ahead.