Once there was an executive assistant (what we used to call a secretary) who worked for a toxic boss. Rachel was good at her job, but you’d never know it working for David. Rachel and David joined the company a few months apart more than ten years ago. They only began working together about two years ago.
Before that, Rachel worked for several managers who gave her neutral or mildly positive marks on her annual performance review. The unexciting performance reviews kept Rachel on the move, transferring to new managers in hopes of finding a better work relationship. Now Rachel is desperate to move again because she’s had with David.
David is mean and nasty. He criticizes her work product mercilessly, often when other people are present. He makes snarky comments about her constant noshing, even though Rachel’s explained that she has a medical condition requiring her to eat healthy snacks frequently throughout the day.
David’s nastiness stems, at least in part, from Rachel’s mediocre performance. He’s had it with her, too. He’ll never admit that his constant disapproval has affected her performance. After all, he also answers to a difficult boss and doesn’t want to hear any whining from others. He’d love to offload Rachel on another manager but there haven’t been any openings.
Last week, David’s and Rachel’s luck changed. An internal job posting announced an opening for an executive assistant in another department. Rachel immediately submits her resume. The HR manager tells Rachel that she’s not eligible for consideration because David still needs to submit her performance review.
Rachel dashes out of the HR manager’s office and makes it to David’s office in Olympic Gold medal time. She glares at David and demands that he turn in her performance review immediately. David scowls at her. Then he says that he will give her the best damned review she’s ever had if it means he can get rid of her.
- She can complain to HR about David’s abusive attitude but that could make her sound whiny and hurt her chances of a transfer away from him.
- She can dump her trash of rotting apple cores on his desk when he’s in a meeting.
- She can say nothing and use his “great” review to get away from him.
In the actual situation, the executive assistant moved from one toxic manager to an even more toxic manager. Toxicity should be addressed with HR assistance rather than festering to the detriment of the entire organization.
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