Q: The managers in our department are autocratic bullies who treat employees like first-graders. If they find us talking to a co-worker, they immediately order us to get back to our own cubicle, even if we’re discussing a work project. They actually covered all the windows to keep us from looking out.
Because we’ve been told that we must protect confidential information, I moved my computer so that people passing by couldn’t see the monitor. When management noticed this, I was given a written warning for “tampering with company property,” even though nothing had been damaged.
In the past six months, half our employees have left because working here is simply unbearable. We are seldom fully staffed because people look for reasons to call in sick. Two new managers were recently hired, but they’re just as bad as the old ones.
The vice president and human-resources director always support our bosses, so talking with them won’t help. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Based on your description, the prognosis for change is not good. When the predominant management style is punitive and restrictive, that’s one clear sign of a toxic organization. Since corporate culture starts at the top, this dictatorial behavior is probably being modeled and rewarded by upper management.
Because managers tend to hire in their own image, dysfunctional leaders are drawn to applicants who exhibit similar traits. As a result, one toxic executive can spawn an entire collection of tyrannical bosses. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that your newly hired supervisors fit the same mold as their predecessors.
Sadly, the only cure for a toxic culture is replacing poisonous executives, which is outside your scope of influence. So perhaps it’s time to follow your former colleagues out the door and seek a less oppressive place to work. While you may not have the power to change the company, you do have the power to leave.
Q: I’m beginning to fear that I will never find work because transportation is such a big problem. I’m not a professional person, so there are many jobs I could do. However, I can’t afford to buy a car, and there are no bus stops near my apartment.
Although I have taken Lyft to job interviews, a daily ride from where I live would be too expensive. Almost every interviewer asks about transportation, so I’m afraid that’s why I haven’t been hired. What can I do about this?
A: Lack of transportation presents a difficult dilemma, so I am certainly sympathetic. However, I believe you need to reverse your thinking. Instead of stressing about getting to work from where you live, consider living where you can get to work.
Apparently, your current address makes buses inconvenient and car services expensive. But if you had an apartment on the bus line, that would put many jobs within reach. Alternatively, if you apply for positions with suitable housing nearby, then perhaps the Lyft rate would be manageable.
While I do realize that moving isn’t easy, it might be better than remaining unemployed.