A values audit

Joey Garcia

I’m totally stressed because the company I work for trains people to work well together but does not practice what it preaches. It’s hard to tell clients one thing while my boss does the total opposite. She gossips about employees and discloses confidential information. She tries to bend labor laws regarding overtime and lunch hours. She micromanages and makes no secret of peeking over our cubicles to check on us.

Recently, as she was doing this, I was deleting an e-mail. She rushed into my office and demanded to know what I was doing. I opened the deleted e-mail so she could see it was work-related. After she left, my whole body was shaking. Now employees must station their computers so anyone walking by can view the screen. How do I deal with a boss who treats employees like children? I’m afraid my health will suffer from this stress. If I seek help, I’m afraid she’ll get back at me. What do I do?

Play a game of pretend with me. If a client called you with the above concerns, what action plan would you suggest? If you’re too stressed to imagine anything, take a deep breath. Step out of the shoes of the beleaguered employee and into the shoes of the consultant empowered to address workplace issues. Close your eyes and imagine a viable scenario to assist your employee-self in managing the situation. Once you have your own ideas in place, read on.

Years ago, when I was employed as a workplace consultant, I usually had a client-generated checklist of qualities that should exist in the office environment. If you lack such a list, your firm’s mission statement might be a viable alternative. I suggest that you do a values audit in your workplace based on that list or mission statement. Brainstorm major and minor workplace changes that would result in the establishment of those values in the office where you work. Implement as many as you can into your personal work life, so that you feel some control over your office time. This will provide some peace while you decide whether to stay or go.

Now, let’s talk about your boss. I am dismayed by your situation and want something better for you. Yelling, gossip, inappropriate criticism and spying are abuse. Nonetheless, you can choose to operate from your integrity. For example, respond to your boss’s raised voice by saying, “I am interested in what you have to say. When you can speak to me in a conversational tone, let’s resume this dialogue.” Then leave the room. If you fear that acting like an equal will get you fired, you have not taken good care of yourself. Always ensure that you are economically stable enough to leave a bad situation. Your self-respect demands it. You also may wish to consult an attorney about your workplace problems.

There may be another dynamic in the situation with the 37-year-old woman who gets upset when her 27-year-old roommate goes out without her [”No friend but me,” SN&R Ask Joey, December 15]. Does the older woman fear middle age? Does she miss being 20-something? Does the 27-year-old like younger men who may not want to hang out with her older roommate? Even actual sisters who are 10 years apart in age don’t usually go out with the same age groups. I think the older roommate needs to let go of her 20s! It’s time to grow up.

A fascinating insight, thank you! Discomfort with aging may be her nemesis, as it is for so many Americans.

Meditation of the week
Two years ago, I resolved to complete things in my life that remained unfinished. As I worked my way through the list, healing, holiness and love poured into my life. In 2006, I plan to tackle the things that I am most fearful of. As I face the beasts within, I will be inspired by the beauty of a Zen proverb, “It takes as long as it takes.” Happy New Life!

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