Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the JerksAtWork.com homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.
 

Atmosphere

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


I just started working for a new company in inside sales. They hired 4 people when I was hired. In a month and a half, not one of us has made a sale. We make 60 to 80 outbound calls a day. The employees who have been working here for a while take the incoming calls, and that is the only way the salespeople are making sales. We are supposed to get these calls too, but we won't get them. People are unfriendly here, and we all feel we should find other jobs. What do you think we should do?
Read Ken's Answer

I have an employee who does a good job, but all of us have to walk on eggs when we deal with her. If something goes differently from what she wants, she can instantly become very difficult. How do you deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

Our manager read or heard that one way to improve the atmosphere is to add a joke at the end email messages. I don't think this helps the atmosphere at all. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer

I work for a manufacturing company that recently hired a new manager who previously worked for several large corporations. He constantly makes negative remarks and tells us that employees where he used to work can do our work many times faster and for less pay. I feel uncomfortable with him around. Should I talk to someone over him or do I need to move on?
Read Ken's Answer

I love my job in this fast-paced environment. My job is very detailed, and if something is not done exactly right, the boss yells and curses at me in front of everyone. We are all women, but if others make mistakes, she does not treat them like this. I admire and respect this woman, but after our conflicts, I leave upset and hurt. After each episode, she leaves an apology on my desk. I cry after reading it and wonder how things can be different.
Read Ken's Answer

I just brought a fairly large cactus into my office, and the office manager caught sight of it and said that it is not an appropriate plant for an office. She said that it gives off a threatening atmosphere and the thorns pose a safety risk, so, it has to go. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Read Ken's Answer

I recently transferred into another department, and the manager and some of her pals keep telling the same old stories and referring to the same old in-jokes. You would think they'd tire of this, but they don't. Is there anything I can do to fit in?
Read Ken's Answer

The president and senior officers of our company occasionally visit our center, but when they enter the building, they walk by all of us as if we are furniture. They go right into the conference room, have a closed-door meeting, and then rush out. I guess there's not much that can be done about this, but I thought I'd ask.
Read Ken's Answer

I'm a line supervisor for a trucking company. One of our dockmen is a bully who harasses some of his co-workers about their performance, looks, and sexuality. A number of them have complained to management, and I've brought several complaints to my immediate supervisor who has jurisdiction over this dockman, but nothing has been done. Should I go over my boss's head?
Read Ken's Answer

We have occasional visitors to our offices, and the president takes them around. As he enters the departments, he looks at us but says nothing. It's as if we don't exist. He just continues his tour with the guests. I am somewhat afraid to say something. What do you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

What are your thoughts about a wife, girlfriend, or significant other taking over and running the office? This is the situation here, and all of us are afraid to say anything to our boss because he is "in love" and lets his significant other do things her way. The atmosphere is very tense, and the working environment is not efficient. This woman has the power to get any of us fired.
Read Ken's Answer

I'm not a scrooge about Christmas, but I am so tired of all the time at work that is being spent on parties, exchanging gifts, and chattering away about one Christmas activity or another. I've had enough of it and Christmas isn't even here yet. Do you have any suggestions?
Read Ken's Answer

We have a visitor to our office once a week. The man is a physician, about the same level as our director. The problem is that he has horrible body odor, dirty clothing, and filthy hands. When he visits, all of us leave our work areas and get nothing done while he is here. How can we tell him that he stinks?
Read Ken's Answer

I work in a very disorganized shop in the entertainment industry. Everything is a last minute emergency. On every project, the owner assigns the wrong person to the wrong task, and he says to just get used to it. He ignores the shop manager, but listens to people with less knowledge. The owner means well, but does not see the light. I have been here for two-and-a-half years, and the only reason I hang on is that the work is fun. What is your opinion?
Read Ken's Answer

We are employed at a mid-size retail chain. We have a manager on site, and we are subjected to biweekly reviews by an area manager. We are a high-performing team and we always meet our goals. When the area manager visits, he sails in, rarely says hello, reviews invoices and such, and focuses on finding something wrong. The atmosphere is depressed and defensive when he's around. What do you call this form of management and how can we react in a more positive tone to his visits?
Read Ken's Answer

There are several of us in the office, and when those who wear perfume are present, you can smell it as soon as you enter. There are three of us who suffer from allergies, and the perfume gives us headaches and makes us sneeze and cough. We have talked to the ones who wear perfume, but they just don't get it. The problem is that our boss is one of those who wear perfume, and because of this, we're stuck. Do you have any suggestions?
Read Ken's Answer

We have been having a high degree of turnover among our younger employees, and I am wondering if this is just a common occurrence with Generation X. If so, what are some good ways to retain them?
Read Ken's Answer

I am the manager of the accounting department at a large title insurance company. There is a title officer who has a history of angry outbursts, mistreatment of assistants, and verbal abuse of co-workers, regardless of warnings from upper management. He claims that people are yelling at him, so he yells at us. His behavior is abusive and against all company policies and harassment laws. I need some advice.
Read Ken's Answer

An employee who throws a temper tantrum, screams, shoves boxes out of the door, swears, and then walks over to a table and punches a box would probably be immediately escorted out the door. But what do you do when the owner of the company does that?
Read Ken's Answer

I work for a large company in the customer relations department, and I receive many complaints from angry customers. Some of the callers become extremely irate and resort to verbal abuse and profanity. Our company policy is to continue the call even if it becomes a personal threat. Failure to adhere to this policy can result in disciplinary action, including termination. What do you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

I have worked in a family-owned business for several years. Last year, the firms' president took ill and his son, the vice president, took over. Recently, he began a sexual relationship with one of his direct reports, a woman who separated from her husband because of this affair. She oversees an important department. Because of the lack of professionalism and judgment of these two individuals, productivity has slipped, clients are being lost, and many good employees are thinking about quitting. Should I talk to the president who is healthy today but not involved in the day-to-day business?
Read Ken's Answer

When one of the people in my department made a huge mistake on a project, I screamed at him. He went to my boss and I was formally reprimanded. The problem is that when I make a mistake, my boss yells his head off at me, and he's not the only one around here who yells. Does this sound fair and what should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

Management at this company fires some employees for committing an error, and yet keeps others who commit the same infraction. One employee used profanity and racial slurs toward another employee, and several people witnessed this. Management continues to defend this employee and deny that anything happened. Many loyal employees are looking for employment elsewhere due to the company management. Who has the problem and what can be done?
Read Ken's Answer

My boss made condescending and patronizing statements which escalated to yelling and screaming, which escalated to kicking boxes out the door and punching them. The boss said that employers can treat employees any way they want and employee relations have nothing to do with it. I quit the next day. I don't know about you or anybody else, but I certainly did not want to stay in that kind of environment.
Read Ken's Answer

I've been with this company for about a year, and I enjoy most of the work. My problem is that the people I work with talk about work and nothing else. Some humor or casual conversation would be nice, but it doesn't happen. This place is no fun, and I am wondering if that is enough reason to leave.
Read Ken's Answer

I am an accountant in a small commercial real estate company. There is a generous owner, a secretary, another accountant, and myself -- I am female. The secretary and I have always been great friends, but the other accountant is constantly gossiping about me and my work to her. He and the owner are both in love with her, and she is married. She tells me she does not know what to say to the accountant when he wants to vent about me. Do I confront him or ignore them both?
Read Ken's Answer

We have some customers who bother the waitresses. I don't know if it is harassment or not, but their comments are often off-color and offensive. We told our manager about this, and he said that the customers are just being friendly and we should be nice to them. Does this sound right?
Read Ken's Answer

My manager just told me I'm too friendly with the employees I supervise. I am a friendly manager, but I don't think I've crossed the line, and that's exactly what I told him. He insisted that I be more cautious about this, but I don't know what to do.
Read Ken's Answer

There is a person in our office who is always talking out loud about the chores she is completing, whether she is filing papers, entering data on the computer, or rearranging her desk. It is a little distracting, and a little strange, and we are not sure if we should say something. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer

Our company has a lot of angry employees. It's not a violent thing, but they just seem to be upset and negative. We have talked with them about this, but they don't say much. What can you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

Our general manager is quick to tell the managers that we can be terminated at any time because we are at-will employees. If he is unhappy with one of our employees, he will say something like, "You should fire him. He's at-will. You can fire whoever you want." Is he right?
Read Ken's Answer

Several of us with two weeks of vacation time are annoyed that a new person in our department is starting out with three weeks of vacation. We all have to work here for five years before we get the extra week of vacation. What can we do?
Read Ken's Answer

I recently joined this company and found it to be very competitive. People are quick to focus on your failures or shortcomings in front of others, especially in front of management. There is no real teamwork, since people are always trying to make themselves look good and others look bad. Is there a way to change this?
Read Ken's Answer

Our company backs its managers 100%, whether they are right or wrong. There are no checks and balances to see if a department needs attention by someone in senior management. What can an employee do about this?
Read Ken's Answer

Management in this company is always saying they want to hear the employees' ideas. I was at a meeting with several top managers and made a suggestion. My manager instantly said it was a ridiculous idea and not to waste the group's time with these types of comments. None of the other managers seemed bothered by my comments. I felt humiliated and am unsure about what to do next.
Read Ken's Answer

I am not in marketing, but I came up with an idea that could help market our company's products. When I mentioned it at the end of a department meeting, my manager said I should worry about my own work and stay out of the business of other departments. How do you deal with this type of management style?
Read Ken's Answer

I am fairly new here, and my job is okay, but people here seem to take pleasure when others fail. They are always looking for ways to make themselves look better in the eyes of management, and make others look worse. I am very uncomfortable with all of this. What's the best thing to do?
Read Ken's Answer

There is a very senior person here who is mean, divisive, and uncaring. I can't imagine why he is still on board. He is not team-oriented, and he demands that everything be done his way. People who report to him think he is a dictator. Why would a company keep someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

My company is filled with people who yell and scream. If you donít yell, you are seen as weak or uncertain about what you are saying. I donít like working this way, and I am trying to stay calm and get people to stop yelling. I have been getting headaches almost every day, and I wonder if itís worth it. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer