Software

The scariest company in the world?

A TechRepublic member asks for suggestions on how to cope in a completely dysfunctional workplace.

I get a lot of email from people who find themselves in dreadful work environments. Last week, however, I got a rather unusual email from a woman who has pretty much resigned herself to a bad work environment and has managed to survive the resident tyrant. Her issue is: What can she do about tyrannical behavior that she sees being inflicted on others?

Here's the upshot of the email (hold on to your hats, this is quite a ride):

I have worked at the same small finance company for almost 20 years. For about 18 years, another woman (I'll call her "Alice") has worked here as the head of Accounting.  We both report to the same person, which makes her my co-worker.  Over the years, I have managed to negotiate a "treaty" with her, i.e., I let her know that if she continued to try to micro-manage me, she would get more trouble than she could handle.  As a result, she has backed off with me.

However, any time I have to go into her department, I am faced with the brutal micromanaging that she practices on her employees.  I am in charge of the computers.  When I go into her department to work on one that is broken, Alice charges out of her office at me, demanding to know what I am doing there.  She admits to me that she wishes people were robots.

She continually threatens to fire employees at management meetings, and she always has what she thinks is a good reason, but she never does it. Alice complains that she has an extreme absenteeism problem in her department, but then says "don't you dare say it's MY fault!"

She tells her employees when they can take bathroom breaks.  She leaves work at 4 pm, and then spends hours in the evening on the phone every day making all her department report back to her everything they do, minute-by-minute.

My problem is this: I think of myself as an ethical person.  Since I do not report to Alice, nor does she report to me, it would probably be argued by most that my duty is to keep out of things, and keep my mouth shut.  But it is intensely painful to go into her department day after day, and have to witness the way she treats her employees.  Never mind what it does to undermine company resources and productivity...what about the human cost?

Oh, and I guess I should tell you: Alice is the HR person in our company.  The only one.

My response:

You know what's worse than reading an account of a very troubled person wreaking havoc on the workplace? Finding out that person is the HR department.

I have to say that I greatly admire you for attempting to deal with Alice and being relatively successful at lessening her effect on your working life. Much of the time, workplace behaviors can be tamed or altered just by having them pointed out to a person, but honestly, I don't think it would matter in this case, especially given the way she reacts to comments she only perceives as criticisms. And if she's in HR, she almost certainly understands what constitutes a hostile work environment, but she obviously doesn't care.

Couple of things, though: I'm wondering why the other employee asked, in the event of her firing, if you would report Alice as a workplace bully? Why doesn't she report her herself? (Other than the obvious reason that she fears being assaulted.)

What is the physical proximity of your mutual boss and any other people further up in the company? Can they not see and hear this behavior themselves? My guess is that they can, and they are too afraid to do anything or are perhaps benefiting from extra productivity due to her kooky micromanagement.

I, like you, would be disturbed by what you see secondhand going on with Alice and her existing employees. Even being a witness to that constitutes a hostile work environment, so you would be within your bounds to say something. But that wouldn't be nearly as effective as one of her own employees doing it. Do you have the kind of relationship with your mutual boss where you could "throw it out there" and see how he reacts?

When I emailed my response to the original email sender, she replied:

I have a formal medical diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.  That is sometimes referred to as "high-functioning autism."  We don't keep statistics in the U.S. but in Great Britain, where autistic spectrum disorders are much better known and understood, the employment rate for adults diagnosed with spectrum disorders is 11%.  Notice I said "employment rate", not "unemployment rate".  I'm a rare bird, and I've spent my entire adult life hanging on by the skin of my teeth.  This is why I can't just get up and leave.

Alice had an autistic brother, and from the way her parents treated her, it's possible they might have fallen somewhere on the autistic spectrum.  Her behavior could also be the result of being somewhere on the autistic spectrum.  That is probably why she can read information about harassment, but can't see it and/or can't understand it when she, herself, is doing it.

As to why others in the company are not noticing the dysfunction of Alice, the writer explained that it's because they have plenty of their own dysfunction going on, including one manager being sued for sexual harassment (he told one woman she had to sleep with him or she'd lose her job) and a VP with anger control issues. The VP once left our writer 10 screaming voice mail messages at night asking why his computer wasn't working, and was discovered writing porn about one of his employees and kept it on a file server accessible to the whole company. He was not fired for either infraction.

So, apparently, help from the execs is out of the question. Our writer stresses that she has faced so many employment obstacles due to the Asperger's syndrome that she does not want to leave this place. Her only concern is easing her conscience of the guilt of witnessing a fellow employee being abused by Alice.

If leaving is out, then I'm not sure good will come of taking action on behalf of another person. We can be 99% sure that it will not do your career any good at that madhouse, and it may end up with that employee (and you) getting fired anyway. Maybe you can counsel the other employee in the ways you've developed in order to deal with the people in that House of Hell?

My primary advice would be to consult a lawyer. In the U.S., we have the Americans with Disabilities Act that offers resources for people in your situation. I'm not sure what Great Britain has, though here is an Employment Fact Sheet that might help. You may want to consult an employment or disabilities lawyer just to see what other options you have. In my fantasy world, you would be able to sue them and retire on the settlement.

My readers have a wealth of experience, so I will open this up to them and see what suggestions they can give you.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

42 comments
TBone2k
TBone2k

I'm also familiar with Asperger's and other ASDs. Part of the problem with these disorders is they also affect the individual's sense of "right and wrong". My own observation is that dealing with things like hypocriticism and unfairness is very difficult. So I'm sure that adds to the writer's stress. My advice is to consult a lawyer or doctor to see if being forced to work in this enviroment is affecting you in a way that you could be entitled to stress leave.

Englebert
Englebert

Why are all HR jobs taken up by women ?

337
337

Come to the land of Oz and ye shall discover your statement may quite well be wrong. In any case i have had more issues with the male HR clowns. I had one redline me to the point of wanting to clock the sod and do as someone else suggested eg hole in backyard or blue barrel waiting for that one better still shark bait ! What gets me as i discovered from the knob in my case was the dill wasn't even qualified as HR but because he brown nosed the boss. Well guess what the little *u*d is untouchable in his nice tax payer funded position. His boss is X cisco trained (you can see why it didn't cut the mustard in IT) No disrespect to other cisco qualified persons. woohooo gotta laugh it's beyond the stage of crying. The worst thing is dysfuntional dementors like that one have to deal with all sorts of people as i pointed out to the CEO. Addicts, Disabled, Ethnics and every cross section of society. Clearly more scrutiny has to be put on these positions. As in my case the clown wasn't even ment to be there he's not trained to know how to deal with people on a personal level. People in HR found to be antogonising staff or clients should be sacked immediatly NQA. Whats the point of having a chief diplomat who is the war monger causing the trouble ? Male or female it don't matter. Gender or disabillity etc is not the issue. It's these peoples attitudes in the work place. People who clearly suffer an inability to be decent let alone understand where people are coming from should Not be in HR. Yet we find them left right and center because obviously they are no good for anything else (wrecks the rep of good ones). Not even good for the role they've been assigned if they carry on like that. It amazes me how companies have have that as they're frontline. And they wonder why no one wants to do business with them when word gets out what they're attitude is like. Let alone how they treat they're staff. It's high time the bosses out there turf such chaff. They just turn the workplace into complete bedlam and productivity goes out the window. Stating the obvious i know but it just isn't sinking in to the dills who hire these morons in the first place wether it's because they're friends of the family/company etc who cares they shouldn't be there if there not suited. Once again this would not occur in a perfect world. Hang in there any one going through such crud you can only hope fate catches up with them at it's own accord ;) Usually it does but no where near fast enough most would argue. Every time i hear HR i now cringe ! If you have an attitude problem and have the customer skills of a raging meth head. Well our beloved JNM's here will hire you ! NQA just make sure you make a good impression on the boss face first *slurp! And your virtually guaranteed a spot. Fact

Geek3001
Geek3001

Perhaps it is because women, on the average, have better social skills than men. You are aware, of course, that your comment requires a single example to the contrary to be proven inaccurate. I suspect that TR members can provide several examples to the contrary.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

My last employer. Of a staff of about 300 HR people company wide, about 100 were men. The VP of HR was male, as were 2 of the 5 directors reporting into him.

Jeanie2424
Jeanie2424

Do you really need to throw that question out there?

reisen55
reisen55

I had a position for 8 months with a major hospital chain in Manhattan. 3 hospitals coverage, 11,000 computers and no cohesion anywhere. Windows NT, 2000 and XP. God Forbid this was before Vista. Systems were under desks, on top of cabinets, behind doors. No inventory at all either. But that was OK unto itself. Management was not bad but our group was severely under-staffed (2 people per hospital) and my manager was a drone. But, that is OK too. There were no, zero, NADA controls on the network. Result was malware, porn and virus run rampant, plus stolen computers. 30 walked out of one hospital and my drone manager adjusted inventory to cover it up. One system was swiped, locked down, from the commons cafeteria 2 hours after I left it alone. One system was stolen from the Pastor's office. Regularly we ghosted systems to restore and within a week the same problems were back again. Again, no firewall. The end users? Patients, hooked up in bed on beeping machines. Doctors could not get to medical data because the wireless network was so bad and picking up addresses from across the street. Can we spell S T R E S S? Glad I am long out of that one. I dreaded, with Fear and Loathing, going to that job. And I have not even touched upon the Server Farm.

RookieTech
RookieTech

This kind of work environment i also believe will kill ya stress sucks and should not be the problem in your job

piecework
piecework

I thought the writer was describing the company where I work. I have stood up for other employees who are run over by their boss (who also is the Human Resources Director!) and only got myself written up for it. My advice is this: keep out of it if you want to save your own job; the abused employees need to stand up for themselves (as Doctor Phil says "we teach people how to treat us").

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

You're there, and haven't left, for your own reasons. Alice's staff is there, and remain, for their own. Alice's boss hasn't fired her, presumably because she delivers something more important than neurosis. There's more going on than you can fix. Mind your own business; if not, you risk making something worse and improving nothing. Making a bigger mess out of a situation due to misplaced empathy and self-righteousness is no virtue.

VikingCoder
VikingCoder

Where I'm working now would certainly give them competition for the title. I have sympathy for this person, as someone who is likely on the spectrum as well.

russell_whyte
russell_whyte

Yes, this place sounds like a nightmare to work for. There is a considerable amount of discrimination against mental health disorders although Asperger's is fairly well-known at least within IT. But given the actions of senior mismanagement in this place, this is not a winnable battle. Her safest move would be to give the victim(s) a pointer to employment laws in her country, any relevant gov't agencies, that sort of thing. Don't try to fight on the victim's behalf - she'll lose. badly. And after that stay out of it. Her job requires dealing with that department, deal with the computers. Getting involved any deeper is invading another manager's turf, whether for right or wrong. Ultimately, get the heck out of there and find a better job. While it may be tempting to post the details about these morons on a blog or email to their customers, it's not worth the pain. Just find a better position elsewhere and leave with a smile on her face. Russell

TechCruncher
TechCruncher

This woman needs to read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey, then "Bradshaw On: The Family" By John Bradshaw and then Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.

JamesRL
JamesRL

If it were an isolated incident, then it might be possible to work with senior management to resolve the issue, but as it stands, if senior management is as incapable as it seems, then there is little one person can do to set things right. The only thing the writer can do is leave, and after they have left (and started a new position) is to report the behaviour to the authorities. It probably won't help, but you can try. James

jkameleon
jkameleon

It's a matter of course, that every normal person would bolt that place. The problem is, however, that the writer does not consider herself normal: I have a formal medical diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. . . . the employment rate for adults diagnosed with spectrum disorders is 11%. Notice I said ?employment rate?, not ?unemployment rate?. I?m a rare bird, and I?ve spent my entire adult life hanging on by the skin of my teeth. This is why I can?t just get up and leave. I think someone should explain to that woman, that Asperger Syndrome is not such a big deal. Many programmers have it, the more, the better. http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000490.html Even Richard Stallman himself was armchairly pyschoanalitically diagnosed with it. Inducement was this debate: http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.emacs.devel/36137/focus=36460 Armchair psychoanalysis: http://edward.oconnor.cx/2005/04/rms

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

I have worked with at least 10 people with Asperger's Syndrome in the past 5 years and all of them were very successful in their careers. And since they didn't make a secret of their condition, other people accepted them for not always getting all the social clues.

tony.maine
tony.maine

Asperger's is called a syndrome, which is not a disorder, whereas full blown 'Autism' is one of the many Autistic spectrum disorders. So people with Asperger's are very employable at the right job - which probably isn't going to be people-focused. Even before anyone said anything about Alice I thought she might have an Autistic disorder from the description of her behaviour. She is wildly overcompensating for her inability to react appropriately to people. I'm amazed she has a job at all.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

I was using the medical term disorder to mean a condition which is not considered to be general or within the normal parameters. I was hoping to encourage the person to tell them simply being diagnosed with a disorder is NOT a mandate that they cannot be considered valuable employees, as it is simply not the truth in my experience. And based on most of the comments, it can be viewed as a definitive plus. I can understand and agree with your point that saying you have a disorder has in some parts of society come to mean you are a victim of a disability. While some disorders can indeed cause you to be suffer a disability, it doesn't mean that all of them do. No one considers heterochromia a disability; but, I douby few people would consider achromatosis to not be one.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

I think a lot of things labeled as a "disability" or "disorder" today are bogus. I think it comes from the assumption that everyone is supposed to be completely balanced. A lot of people who are labeled to having a "disability" are really people that have a great strength coupled with a great weakness. When I was young they diagnosed me with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). It's fairly common and I am sure most of you have heard of it. True, I do have a hard time focusing on things, not because I am "attention deficit" but because my mind is going a mile a minute and thinking about many different things. Being "ADHD" in my opinion is a great strength but requires a lot of discipline. It's like harnessing the power of a storm. I think many of the great people in history would be diagnosed with a sundry of "disorders" these days. What sort of problems would Albert Einstein be diagnosed with if he lived today. It is my advise to anyone out there who has been labeled with some kind of problem that if people tell you that you won't be able to do certain things in life because of your "problem", don't listen to them. I've had people tell me my whole life I couldn't do things and I've proved them wrong by doing many of the very things they said I couldn't.

Jessie
Jessie

I know kids with Asperger's. I know adults with Asperger's and I like them all. I'm pretty sure, if he was ever evaluated for it, my husband could very well be diagnosed with Asperger's... but I don't see it so much as a disorder, or a disability. We're all gifted with different intelligences. Some people are very good in science or math but couldn't spell a lick before spellcheck. Some people are very creative writers and make up the most fantastic stories, but can't balance a checkbook. Why do we think social intelligence is any different? Some of us have to work harder than others at being socially acceptable and no matter how hard we try, we'll always feel just a bit awkward... and this gets a disability label, because without that disability label, we'd have a harder time getting a job. It's almost impossible to "ace" an interview when you can't make that social connection (especially when HR people do the initial interview). And to the person who emailed Toni, I say, look for another job. A company that's run that way internally can't be doing much better externally and eventually someone is going to sue the company and you won't want to be there when that happens. Fortunately for you, it's somehow easier to find a job when you already have one, and the fact you've been there so long proves you're employable, so I think the job hunt may be easier than you think, even in the current economy, but you need to start now. And that's my two cents... for whatever that's worth.

patjenks
patjenks

The best way to avoid these types of toxic bosses is to hear what their current employees think about them. Sites like www.ebosswatch.com give you an inside look at what bosses are like before you start working with them.

jck
jck

I dealt with a finance director who would come into my department and scream at me. She never thought that if a computer program worked right for 20 years that it would not just all of the sudden decide on its own to stop. And when I wanted to do something in her department, I had to let her know or I would get asked about why I was there, who called me, and what I'd be doing. I often got her pulled into the Executive Director's office over it. I was of (and as a head of a section had) the authority to administrate my machines as I saw fit. She was a user. And I made it clear once that if she didn't like the computers and my making sure they worked, I would gladly take them out and let her and her staff do everything in ledger books. She got quiet really quickly.

SilverBullet
SilverBullet

this is common and becomming more common these days. This is a business culture that it not monitored and the result is disgraceful and/or scandalous. Everyone has choices in life. Your well being must be the most important. Before a new door can open for you, you sometimes must close the old door. One positive note: You don't work in accounting, do your job and leave your emotions at your desk when supporting the accounting department.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

the area she works in. Since Alice is abusing the people who work for her, then the company is abusing them - in the legal sense of the employment laws as the company is NOT stopping Alice's abuse, thus they must approve. If higher up don't know about the abuse, or can't prove it enough to deal with Alice, then they will get held responsible by most courts etc when it goes that far. By failing to mention the real issues to upper management, the writer is leaving the company open to major litigation, and also leaving herself open to being out of a job when the company closes as a result of the litigation. In some areas where the employment laws aren't favourable to the workers, it may not be such a problem, but the company would still be open to the higher costs related to sick leave, over time to cover the sick leave work, and even some workers' compensation payouts for extended sick leave due to work related stress caused by Alice. Her best bet would be to write the details out and send it, anonymously, to the relevant government body that overlooks employment issues. As another person with Asperger's, I can relate to the concerns about unemployment as interviews are extremely stressful for most people with Asperger's. Getting a job again is hard, especially in the current economic climate. So act without identification, but the other workers deserve more help than Alice does.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You make yourself an adjunct employee of the place. Me? I'm running in the other direction.

SilverBullet
SilverBullet

for you santeewelding. Any openings? I have heavy construction experience.

santeewelding
santeewelding

No openings. I'm the only full-time loon in this bin. Come to think of it, maybe the Downturn is not the reason customers have thinned out. Maybe it's me, I don't know I'm loony, and they do.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Either that, or they've all been high on Thiomersal. As for Asperger syndrome: In its pure form, it's a prerequisite for a succesfull programming career.

sohnythomas
sohnythomas

places like that exists.. i have experianced it...

davidt
davidt

But that doesn't excuse a bad boss or coworker. I had one like that, I shot him/her and buried it out back.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Damn straight :). They got me with that and ADHD, just means I program really fast and come up with really complicated functions that no one can seem to understand (Job security :) )

Toni Bowers
Toni Bowers

The woman who emailed me about this issue was unable to post a comment. She asked me to post this for her: I assure you, I am not pulling anyone's leg. I wish I was. I am in programming. I'm the only programmer, and the only one in my current company that knows anything about computers or programming. My boss doesn't know enough to even know if I'm doing a good job or not. He tends to rely on the opinion of men he meets on airline flights. Fortunately, years ago we purchased a computer accounting system from an outside vendor, and their owner/accountant/programmer keeps telling my boss how good I really am (I find his bugs and correct them when he can't). I'm 58 years old. I changed jobs frequently, until I finally realized that nothing got any better, and probably never would. I can do the work, but because of my poor people skills, good companies won't hire me. I finally realized that I have probably been hired by a series of bad companies, and that explains my experiences. I have two very common, and entirely harmless, autistic traits: 1. prosopagnosia, which is "face-blindess", i.e., I frequently cannot recognize the faces of people I've worked with for years, and 2. uncharacteristic eye contact, i.e., too much, too little, or in the "wrong" rhythym. This means that a certain group of people get a "creepy" feeling about me, which I cannot fix, and they don't understand no matter how hard I try to explain. This, in itself, is part of what makes even high-functioning autism a handicap, not just a difference. Changing jobs just means that I'm faced with an entire new company of strangers, without any foreknowledge of who I will have unsolvable problems with, or how to go about dealing with the problems that will always come up. At least my current job is "the devil I know". We used to have a "real" HR person. She and I got along great, and she instituted a series of improvements. However, she left after 6 months (I suspect in frustration/disgust), and a few months later, her changes were rescinded. Since some of those changes had to do with long-time employees getting more vacation time, when they were rescinded there were a lot of hurt feelings. "Alice" is also miserable here. She and I are both dependent on our health insurance, myself because of pre-existing conditions, her because of her husband with pre-existing conditions. She announced to me at one time that she saw HR as her way out of this company and into a new job; that's apparently why she pushed to fill this long-standing empty position, and my boss didn't really care either way. With 20 years of seniority, and being only 4 years from early retirement, I don't like the idea of changing jobs if I don't have to. I'd hate to wind up with no seniority in a new company, and then in this tough economy have them start layoffs. I work in a "right-to-work" state. This has to be one of the original oxymorons, because what it means is that you basically *don't* have any right to work. It means that employers can fire anyone, at any time, for any reason. Their only potential liability is that if they fire too many people, their unemployment insurance payments go up. That's it. We have already been sued, years ago. We're still here. And we've had major embezzlement incidents, 3 of them, in a company of less than 50 people. I have come fully "out of the closet"...I've told my boss about my condition, and he knows it is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, that doesn't protect you in the case of mass layoffs. That seniority thing looks better to me right now than a different job. My problem is: how do I live with my conscience? Knowing that I should really stick it out, and try to stay put until I can arrange to retire, how do I deal with watching co-workers suffer? It isn't an issue of legality; we're too small a company for most federal laws to apply to us, and there are so few protective state laws that there might as well be none. I've finally gotten myself into a comparatively comfortable position...my desk is in the computer room, we have to keep the door closed for the a/c for the servers, most of the employees have been moved to the opposite side of the building, and I successfully fought being moved with them by pointing out that re-running all the cables to the servers would be hugely expensive (true, and not an exaggeration, although at first my boss refused to believe it until I documented it). I'm doing okay...but I feel so sorry for the employees who are not. I try to ignore it...but every few months, another incident happens that has me so upset, I find myself contemplating "just quitting" on the spot without even having a job to go to. Any insight that might help me cope would be welcome.

jkameleon
jkameleon

> 1. prosopagnosia, which is "face-blindess", i.e., I frequently cannot recognize the faces of people I've worked with for years, Yeah, that could be annoying, I know. I forgot my boss's name once. Very embarrasing, but... well... it happens. I don't know whether it's autism or not, and I don't care. I guess I just wasn't interested enough to remember. > 2. uncharacteristic eye contact, i.e., too much, too little, or in the "wrong" rhythym. This means that a certain group of people get a "creepy" feeling about me, which I cannot fix, and they don't understand no matter how hard I try to explain. You make people spooked? Good! Don't fix it, don't explain, but use it to your own advantage. > My problem is: how do I live with my conscience? The whole matter has nothing to do with your conscience. You're not the boss, you don't have any authority, therefore it's not yours to fix anything. You can't fix it, you are not expected to fix it, and there's no way in hell you could be blamed for it. My advice: Disengage. Stop caring about your job, and start preparing for retirement. If you are autistic, you're probably good at programming. If this is the case, it would be a shame to let your talents and abilities go to waste. So start looking for freelance contracting or consulting jobs, maybe doing small coding projects from home in the afternoons. rentacoder.com or similar might be a good place to start. With time and effort, these small projects can become bigger. This way, you'll have something to pass the time, and make an extra buck once you retire.

kandyass
kandyass

Those other employees are there by choice. If they want to leave the company/job they can. The fact that she is the HR person makes this even more clear. If I interview for a job and find that the interviewer has some type of abusive personality disorder I don't take the job. Additionally, it might make you feel better to visualise this woman getting pushed under a train. Being the only tech savvy person in the company, you might also consider embezzling a large sum of money and making it look like she did it. (repeat as needed until she's gone).

RudHud
RudHud

First, let me apologize for the late reply. Somehow I missed this article when it came out. I see the two symptoms you mention quite a lot, actually -- every time I look in a mirror. I think I recognize a third symptom I share: a dislike of being around people. "Alice" seems simply horrid, but, as someone who (like you) dislikes excessive contact and has a hard time "reading" people, her micro-management must seem especially galling. It might not seem as bad to her actual victims, however, as it does to you; they may be better equipped to handle such intrusions into personal space. Rather than try to get "Alice" fired (that is what we are talking about, right?) I suggest you supply a crying shoulder in the coffee shop. Give no advice unless asked; I am told that "normal" people, and especially female norms, like to talk to blow steam, like a dog barking. When asked, keep your advice simple, practical, and vague. Don't attack Alice; support your fellow manager as best you can. (Trust me on this.) Instead, give them Ann Landers Law: You can't change Alice, so your choice is, whether your life better with or without her. You seem clearly focused on this; perhaps you can help any friends of yours who work for Alice come to a similar focus. Two more bits of advice (you asked for it!) from someone your age who's been there, done that. These worked for me; if you're already doing these things, forgive my gratuitous suggestions. 1. Don't avoid the coffee room. Sit at the table with others, listen to the gossip, join in when appropriate. 2. If you haven't already, sign up for behavioral therapy. The only person you can change is you -- and you can't even do that, without help.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Coping with it is to keep it and to feed it.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I guess there are different forms of scary.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

But there is one department that we provide service for that is like this. There are cash transactions, so they use that as an excuse for heavy surveillance. The managers for that department designate bathroom breaks and lunch breaks. The abuse the security cameras that are there to protect the employees. They monitor how long the employee goes to the bathroom to the minute, it is disgusting for me to have a role in this harassment. The managers actually use the cameras to read employee emails. I have no proof and there isn't much I can do, other than limit access as much as possible for these abusive managers and micromanage their requests that are surveillance related. There is one manager that I have seen who I suspect of stooping so low as to using the cameras to pay extra close attention to cleavage. These managers who regularly micromanage and abuse their employees really do make me sick to my stomach. To make matters worse, most of the people they hire are underpaid and sheepish or shy in nature. I think this is due to their interview screening and to prevent hiring employees with a backbone that may stand up to them.