Job Stress: One Boss, Two Victims
Jane worked for the same company for three years. She knew her job and was frequently the one who trained new employees. She was 29 and single, and always volunteered to work extra hours or holidays. She planned to make her job a career. That is, until recently.
When the head of her department retired, a replacement was hired and things changed rapidly. Procedures that had been in place for years and that worked very well were completely changed, making more work for Jane and the other employees. Some of the changes caused employees to make mistakes, which were then sharply criticized by the department head.
He seemed to focus his tirades more on Jane than on the other employees. Jane began waking up several times a night worrying about what her boss would blame her for that day. She started having severe headaches, which affected her work, and her appetite suffered.
Carolyn was 22 years old. She was a more recent employee, having worked for the company for only about eight months. She also came in for her share of criticism by the department head, and went to the rest room to cry on more than one occasion after one of his scathing outbursts.
It soon became apparent that the new department head was power hungry. He took credit for the successes of his employees and wormed his way out of blame for anything that went wrong. He overacted to anything he considered a mistake or that he was afraid would make him look bad. He became golfing buddies with two top managers, which solidified his position in the company.
When Jane realized her job was affecting her health, she made an appointment with a manager in Personnel. Caroline asked if she could go with her. The manager listened politely and said he would look into it, but made it clear that he was reluctant to do so.
The following week, Jane was called into the manager's office and told she could transfer to another department but would have to start at a lower salary than she was receiving at present.
Although she considered this totally unfair, she decided to try it. The last I heard, she was fairly comfortable in her new position, but was definitely looking for something better.
And Caroline? She walked out after one of the department manager's vicious tirades.
And the power hungry boss? He is still there in the same position. But there is an unusually high turnover of employees in that department.
Copyright 2006 Robert T. Lewis, Ph.D.
*The above case has been fictionalized and neither the persons nor the incidents are identifiable to any real person or situation.