A recent Hollywood blockbuster starring Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston, focused on a group of friends, all frustrated by their selfish, conniving bosses, and raised issues that the majority of us will have experienced at some stage in our working lives. Nick, Dale and Kurt decide murder and blackmail is the only way to resolve their issues, but for the rest of us conservative souls who tend to steer clear of capital crime, there has to be a better way to deal with ones’ workplace woes.
In the movie, we meet Nick’s boss, the emotionally abusive Dave Harken, who hints at possibilities of advancement only to take the promotion himself. While Nick’s frustrations result in Dave being stabbed by an EpiPen and accusing his wife of infidelity, in reality there were other options open to him.
The mere fact that you work within an organisation where promotion is a possibility means there is a hierarchy, and while Nick directly answers to Dave, there are people higher up the food chain that he could have turned to. While everybody likes a ‘team player’ and nobody likes a ‘snitch’, there are times when you need to air your grievances with someone in a position of power, if for no other reason than to look after your own career.
Once you can recognise the motivations of a person like Dave, you will be able to protect yourself from any potential harm to your career. You still need to give that person the respect that their higher standing in the company warrants, but you can certainly take steps to ensure your own job security. By striving to exceed expectations with your own work, and at the same time keeping note of any correspondence from ‘Dave’, in case he tries to take credit for your efforts, you will eventually be recognised for your true value, and get the attention you deserve.
If you are passionate about your job, and see your career being based in that particular industry, you won’t want to walk away from your employer at the drop of a hat.
Nick’s friend Dale finds himself in a completely different scenario, where his boss, Dr. Julia Harris, is sexually harassing him. Sexual Harassment is a serious thing, and something that can happen in any workplace, affecting men as well as women. There are a number of different ways of dealing with sexual harassment (again, none of which include ‘off-ing’ your boss) and how an individual deals with it will depend very much on the personalities involved and the unique circumstances of each case.
However, one thing is true no matter what – dealing with it quickly is always the best policy.
If you are passionate about your job, and see your career being based in that particular industry, you won’t want to walk away from your employer at the drop of a hat. In that instance, communication is the best course of action. Of course there is never, ever an excuse for abuse of any form of a harrassing a co-worker, bully or employee, but has there been a miscommunication? Have you got the wrong end of the stick? If there is a chance you may have misconstrued the situation, discussing it as soon as possible, either directly with the other party, or with a more senior staff member if need be, is the best way to nip things in the bud as quickly as possible.
If there is no doubt about the behaviour of the other party, first and foremost you need to keep yourself safe. Once you’re sure about your personal safety, take some basic precautions – keep a record of any communications and note down any significant events, make sure you’re not alone with the other party at any time, and make sure to confide in someone else. Remember though, no matter how serious it may feel at the time, you don’t need to start plotting heinous crimes!
The third boss in our movie, Bobby Pellitt, is a different monster altogether. While his father was a dream boss, on his passing the sinister, cocaine-addicted Bobby takes over, and the hapless Kurt’s world spirals down-hill immediately.
Bobby is irrational and conniving, erratic in his mood swings, totally unpredictable and completely unreliable. But still we needn’t resort to putting out a hit!
If you’re working for someone like Bobby, the easiest course of action might be to just walk away. But, if you like your job and want to stay, it may well boil down to how thick your skin is. If your ‘Bobby’ is at the top of the food-chain and answerable to no-one, you can’t do much about his productivity or leadership style. If you know that at heart he is a nice person, who is prone to the odd mood swing, it may be that you can tune him out during his moments of madness, put your head down, and get on with your work.
As in almost every instance, open and honest communication is a highly effective tool.
Alternatively, you could try talking to someone who you know he trusts. As in almost every instance, open and honest communication is a highly effective tool. If you really do care about your job, and the company you work for, talking about your concerns regarding your bosses behaviour, with someone who has influence over them, could yield results. But again, you need to look after yourself – not only your physical safety, but also your mental well-being – there’s only so much random behaviour any one person can take before they start to go a bit nuts themselves!
At the end of the day, almost every career, and every workplace, will attract different, sometimes challenging personalities. To succeed in life you need to be as tolerant as possible, recognise the good points in each person, and do whatever you can to work productively and professionally alongside them. It won’t always work out perfectly, but try and keep the hitman as a very last resort!