Lynne Curry: You can decide whether your job is lousy

ManagementBy LYNNE CURRYFebruary 3, 2013 

Q. I work in a humiliating job. Part of what makes it lousy is my boss thinks customers are holy. If any of them has an issue with any of us, he automatically takes the customer's side. I just got written up for giving a woman customer an "evil eye."

This customer kept asking me questions when I was trying to get her order completed and I wanted to ask, "Do you want me to complete your order or answer your idiot questions?" but I just eye-balled her as I finished her order.

My boss said she said I looked mean and "sighed." I said, "Well excuse me, I was breathing and this is my face." That ticked him off and he told me it was my last warning.

I wouldn't be in this job if I could get another but this is a lousy economy. I live at home and my dad told me to ask you how to improve things at work.

A. Quit; you'll immediately improve your former workplace.

Alternatively, you could take that chip off your shoulder and realize you're making yourself and your job more miserable than necessary. If you don't, you'll lose your job and have something new about which to complain.

When you work with customers, your customers create your job and you deliver service along with products. When you disrespect customers, you disrespect the eight hours you spend working and thus yourself.

Recently, first-grade teacher Jennifer O'Brien learned this the hard way. Unhappy teaching first graders and frustrated by the kids' lack of discipline, she posted on Facebook, "I'm not a teacher; I'm a warden for future criminals." After parents complained and the school board fired O'Brien, she sued, arguing that the First Amendment protected her Facebook postings.

According to the Superior Court of New Jersey's Appellate Division, O'Brien's postings were not protected by the First Amendment because they weren't matters of public concern but simply the expression of her personal job dissatisfaction. The court further noted that parents couldn't have faith in a teacher who insulted their children.

Q. Five months ago, I suggested my boss hire a woman I'd met at Rotary. I didn't know this woman well, but she was incredibly flattering when she sat at my table and twice bought my lunch when next to me in line.

Soon after she came aboard, I learned my mistake. I expected her to treat me well. Instead, I've got a target on my back. She sucks up to my boss, takes every opportunity to show me up and lets my boss know she has skills in my area of expertise. She also relayed to several co-workers comments I made to her in private.

I don't dare go to my boss about this -- he has no patience with what he considers "female in-fighting" -- so how do I tell him she's an opportunistic back-stabber?

A. Jerry Harvey once asked, "How come every time I get stabbed in the back my fingerprints are on the knife?"

Although your new co-worker potentially saw you as a stepping stone to a job, she doesn't pose as serious a problem to you as your own penchant for drama and willingness to endorse someone based on flattery.

Although your boss listened to your opinion about the hire, he ultimately made his own decision. Trust him to correctly assess someone who is manipulating him -- if indeed she is. In the meantime, if you produce quality results, you can't be shown up.

Pull your fingers off the knife and stop making comments you don't want repeated.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com. You can follow Lynne on Twitter @lynnecurry10.

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