how should I act after reporting my boss to HR?

A reader writes:

I have a boss who an entire blog could be dedicated to but for the purposes of this question, I’ll try (but likely fail) to keep the exposition brief. I worked for “Miranda” for about six years now and she has always been mercurial, narcissistic, and prone to bursts of anger. Her managerial style is awful — high performers are treated like naughty children who need to be put in their place and are constantly belittled, and expectations are basically that we must be perfect and “do as Miranda says, not as Miranda does.” Mentoring is not in her genetic code. Meanwhile, the dead weight of our team (think: folks who literally come in every day and read novels at their desk and/or do online shopping for everyone to see) are coddled, stroked, and cooed at. Work gets dumped on the high performers, dead weight get to do whatever they like without fear of retribution or projects coming their way. Miranda has become more and more like the dead weight as of late — she has decided that simply delegating all her work amounts to her doing her job and enjoys goofing off with the other dead weight members.

We could all maybe tolerate the dead weight if Miranda didn’t make working here such a climate of terror. Much like your recent “yelling boss” podcast, Miranda is a yeller. She’s prone to sudden outbursts and tantrums from her office — screaming, cursing, banging her desk and furniture with her hands, stomping, etc. I once was in her presence during a tantrum and she threw her eyeglasses past me across the room. These outbursts are in an open office with her door open and I’d say that just about everyone now on our team has been subjected to at least one instance. Anything can set off the tantrum as well — most of the time it’s working with technology that is beyond her skillset, but once it was that she had misplaced a notebook. Any attempts to help her during these tantrums result in her simply yelling at you, so most of us have learned to stay quiet or flee the office entirely.

This past year was a significant reorganization in our division and it’s only made things worse. Miranda’s behavior has increased from a few tantrums a year to constant weekly tirades. (This is in addition to her 1:1 behavior that, while usually doesn’t amount to full-on screaming, is typically awful in tone, extremely condescending, and doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise.)

All of this has come to a head for myself and a few other employees who no longer can bear this status quo. The few of us recently have gone to several equity people and our boss’ boss, and now an ombudsman is involved. We’ve been told the ombudsman will soon have a “serious conversation” with Miranda in terms of the feedback about her behavior received from her office and that it must stop.

Miranda has NEVER taken criticism well. Any time any of us have dared try to give her feedback or let her know her behavior isn’t acceptable, it usually makes things worse.

Unfortunately, prior to this reorg, I was her assistant and had developed what I now know was an improper relationship in terms of boundaries. A lot of it was wrapped up in my own mental survival of having to directly work for her. There were times I covered for her when I shouldn’t have, times I validated bad behavior to make it end faster, and many years of ignoring the elephant in the room. I’m fairly certain after she has this chat with the ombudsman, she is going to track me down and interrogate me. “What do you know?” “What have people been saying?” “Do you feel that’s true about me?” These are all questions that, given my experience with her, all lead to bad conversations. She does not want your honest feedback, she wants loyalty and validation and nothing else. Knowing that … what are some key phrases I can use? What can I say to get out of this conversation without letting her think I don’t think anything is wrong? (When it IS so wrong!)

One equity person shared exit strategies with me — that because I know the conversation will have no good benefits or truly be productive, I should concentrate on ending it. “I’m not comfortable talking about this with you,” “I don’t appreciate being interrogated,” and if I was feeling brave and particularly saucy, “This behavior you are exhibiting right now is a great example of why you were talked to.”

How should I behave in the days after it’s been made clear to her that her office has essentially reported her?

The most important thing here is for you to be sure that your organization has your back, and your coworkers’ backs — that if Miranda tries to penalize you in any way for reporting her, that will be quickly shut down and you’ll be protected from repercussions.

Since they’ve been advising you on how to get out of conversations with Miranda about the reporting, it seems likely that they will, but it’s worth verifying that with them if you haven’t already. As in: “If Miranda reacts badly when she learns about this and takes it out on me or others, how can we handle that? I’m concerned about the prospect of retaliation, either open or subtle, and I want to understand what systems are in place to protect us from possible repercussions.”

Ideally you’ll be told that it’ll be made very clear to Miranda how unacceptable any form of retaliation would be, even subtle retaliation, but you at least want to hear that if you see evidence that’s happening, you should report it immediately and it’ll be taken care of.

Once you get that assurance, you have a lot of options in how to respond to Miranda if she does confront you. You can certainly go the “I’m not comfortable talking about this with you” route. That’s a very reasonable route.

I’m curious, though, about what would happen if you say answer with some candor. What if you said, “I do think there are serious issues here and you can be very difficult to work for. I don’t feel comfortable discussing the details in part because I’m afraid you’ll yell or otherwise direct anger at me, but yes, I do think the issues are serious ones.”

If she’ll sulk or raise her voice or otherwise get agitated but not ultimately penalize you for it, there might be value in just saying it. But if you think she’s likely to penalize you for it in ways that you’re not interested in having to deal with, then skip it — it’s not your job to coach her on her behavior, and it sounds like someone else is finally making it their job. Let them handle it.

Beyond that though — outside of conversations where she’s directly confronting you about this — I’d try being as normal, low key, and matter of fact as possible. Try to treat her like everything is normal. Think of yourself as modeling “this is what normal, functional behavior looks like,” the way you might do with a child who was struggling to regulate their behavior.

Who knows how she’ll respond to that, but one thing to consider is that she’s likely to be feeling really weird, and the rest of you acting weird too will just increase the amount of tension and drama. Of course, in addition to feeling really weird, she might also be feeling really angry, but people react differently to this kind of situation. I’ve seen tyrannical managers end up really humbled after a sufficient stern conversation from above. It’s hard to predict how she’ll respond. She might be angry, she might be hurt, she might be upset, she might be withdrawn, she might be vindictive — who knows. But if you make a point of being normal and matter-of-fact, you’ll be signaling “this is what a reasonable path forward looks like,” and she might grab on to that.

Or not. She might scream herself hoarse, at which point you’d go back and let whoever is dealing with this let them know what’s going on.

{ 211 comments… read them below }

  1. President Porpoise

    Best case scenario, she quits in a huff after the conversation with the ombudsman. Good luck on this one, OP.

    1. Noah

      Assuming she must provide significant value to the company, I’d say the best case scenario is Miranda stops acting like a jerk at work.

      1. Elizabeth W.

        I really wish companies would stop tolerating behavior like this because of the perceived value jerks bring. Anyone who acts like this gives NO value and should be terminated. The company will constantly lose good employees over a person like this. It costs more than it gains.

        1. Carbovore

          I agree with you–unfortunately, there is some sad and true validity to what Noah says. (I’m the OP of this, by the way.)

          As it turns out, I work in higher ed and Miranda is someone who procures a significant amount of funding for the unit. I see it all the time. Folks decide the money brought in is worth all the suffering and turmoil of the people forced to work for them.

          This is a large reason as to why the other coworker and I took so very long to finally go talk to people about this–we’d always felt that no one would care and not only would we get no help on the matter, we were extremely likely to face retaliation.

          I think the reason this all went a bit better than it could have was we reached out to SEVERAL equity people–it forced them all to have to interact with each other and be accountable. This couldn’t then just exist in a vacuum and be ignored.

          1. Not So NewReader

            If I were a donor and I learned this was happening, I would take my money else where. There is no way, I am interested in funding a Screaming Baby nor am I interested in funding the increased insurance cost as everyone around her has a health derailment.

            1. Carbovore

              She doesn’t act this way around donors and honestly, it’s not something I would disclose with any of them (even if I hoped it would make a difference!). That would definitely cause folks above me to question MY judgment and put me on the chopping block!

              But yes, sometimes I wish she’d slip up publicly in front of a VIP… :X

              1. Flash Bristow

                So – if she doesn’t act that way around donors, she’s capable of understanding what is acceptable behaviour for a situation, and reining it in as necessary. Maybe she’s storing up her emotion and letting it out on you guys instead – but it shows she does have some understanding of what is appropriate, and at least some capacity to rechannel it.

                I remember as a 3 year old in school I got angry and wanted to hit people. I was advised to stay indoors at lunchtime and walk round the room and hit furniture instead. (It didn’t help. I was being bullied by the older kids who I wanted to hit back, and slapping tables just made my hand sore! but I digress) I’m just thinking… wow, she sounds like an out of control first year schoolkid. Maybe she needs treating as such: being told how to get anger out of her system without impacting others.

                Could she go to a carpark, sit in her car and do a primal scream? Or go to the staff room and do some meditative breathing? Something? Anything?

                Now you’ve reported her, I guess this is out of your hands to solve; but if she does come to you as expected, maybe you could talk to her about channelling her anger and frustration in a different manner, since you know she is capable of withholding it when the situation requires?

                Well done for doing the difficult and scary thing of reporting her – I really hope it works out long term. Best of luck.

                1. Voly

                  “Could she go to a carpark, sit in her car and do a primal scream? Or go to the staff room and do some meditative breathing? Something? Anything?”

                  No, because that would require her to have respect for people who are “below” her. But she doesn’t, which is why she treats them like shit. Because she thinks that they are beneath her. That’s not curable.

              2. Matt C.

                If she acts differently and appropriately in front of donors and executives, then she has a level of self-awareness about her personality and has developed habits to overcome or mask her ‘real’ personality that you and coworkers are seeing. If she does not respond well to the feedback, and continues her behaviors, you might end up in a difficult situation. I’ve seen this play out multiple times where the leader listens to the feedback and says all the right things, and weeks later goes right back to the same debilitating behaviors, all the while still successfully ‘managing up’ to his or her superiors because they have a high level of social awareness (not uncommon for successful leaders). In these cases, I’ve only seen this story end of one two ways: 1. Leader eventually leaves on their own. 2. Enough people under the leader eventually leave the organization and negatively impact the business, and the leader leaves (is forced) to ‘pursue other opportunities’. If it goes down this path, I’d strongly consider being one of the first to find a new job vs. hanging around a toxic management environment. It may not seem fair, but life is too short to subject yourself to this type of situation

          2. Queen Anon

            Also a thing in the legal field. Attorneys who bring in well-paying clients can behave as badly as they like, for as long as they like, toward anyone lower on the food chain than they are. I’ve seen it in every firm I’ve worked in: bringing in money means no boundaries.

          3. SavannahMiranda

            I too have worked for a pouting, yelling, stomping rainmaker. I understand the problem of being the employee whose paycheck is a ‘cost center’ whereas the rainmaker is a ‘profit center.’ Certainly she gets paid, but what she brings in far exceed that. Whereas administrative staff generate no revenue (not directly, not in a way that can be accounted for on financials).

            Everything else being equal, business will choose profit centers over cost centers. And when things are not equal, or are egregious, many businesses will sacrifice cost center people to profit center people. Turnover, new hires, inefficiency, and even the most laborious of workarounds become a cost of doing business, offset by the rainmaking of the profit center. It’s grim, it’s grueling, it’s cruel, it’s arguably unethical. But pretending it’s not that way, or even that it’s personal on the part of the structure when its not, isn’t helpful. It is moral cowardice, and it’s also business.

            My Miranda was smart and savvy enough to be unfailingly charming and intelligent with her stakeholders, just like yours. Clients, donors, and leadership simply never saw these aspects of her personality. And if they heard of it, they did not believe it. It was so outside the parameters of their experience with her, their minds couldn’t give it credence. Not a pretty aspect of human nature, but there it is.

            I understand where you’re coming from, I understand the structure you’re working with here, and I understand the costs such a person can exact from you, even if the retaliation is not overt enough to document and turn in. Ultimately the structure cannot protect you, it is designed to benefit from your labor at a cost, and to invest in her at a profit. Unless someone in particular in leadership identifies this as an issue of moral courage and sacrifices a good amount of their political capital to champion it, the structure will always choose her over you.

            I do hope you are actively searching for another job and a way out of this hostage situation. Please do that, OP. It took me four years to get out, after two years of actively interviewing, the longest interviewing period it’s ever taken me to leave a position. The effects of working for this person continue to affect me today in subtle ways. It changed me as a person and as an employee.

            Do the best for yourself and leave this hostage taker behind, even if things change somewhat based on the intervention. You can do better than this. She would not have you think so, and she may have you convinced she holds all the strings to all of your future employment. Even if she’s powerful in her role in the industry and community (and mine was too, I also called her Miranda), you can exit. I hope you are able to leave soon.

        2. Wintermute

          It’s a combination of “unicorn syndrome” (their skills are so unique we’re beholden to them!) and a lack of understanding of opportunity costs and invisible costs.

          They see the skills she brings (if any, I mean the letter makes it sound like she’s not bringing much to the table, but lets talk about a situation like you described where the jerk has a very high perceived value), what is invisible is the talent lost because they refuse to put up with her behavior. Good employees have employment options, bad ones, by and large, do not. The result is you become the grease trap of the industry, with everyone who has valuable skill leaving for less toxic environments.

          This leads to an insidious problem, because you have high turnover you are hiring more people. The good ones leave eventually or hear your reputation and never apply, and the bad ones stay, because they perceive stability and they have trouble getting other job offers. The result over time is you accumulate an entire department of bad employees, because you end up hiring in masses but retaining only the worst.

          I’m continually frustrated by the fact companies don’t realize they’re courting disaster, an entire department of the worst employees in the business, if they refuse to handle one bad manager.

          1. aebhel

            Exactly. Nobody with options is going to want to work in that kind of environment, so by and large you’re left with people WITHOUT other options.

        3. SamPassingThrough

          Really want to second this.
          Unfortunately, like OP said, sometimes the reality is not that fair…
          Treating people fairly / serving appropriate justice for workplace bullying is often put in second place, while profit and funding takes the forefront.
          I work in a place where the sales team would belittle and bully the newcomer to the point of driving away two managers and one new hire (lasted one month), and the company responds by giving them more bonuses and title upgrades because they’ve taken the accounts left behind and rolled in the profits.

          It sucks, but it’s real.

          1. Jadelyn

            My mom’s workplace is like that. The sales team is showered with benefits and perks, allowed to act like an Animal House-style frat house with zero consequences, while the “recurring revenue” team – the ones getting the clients to renew services with them whenever their contract is expiring – which actually brings in more total revenue per year than the sales team, gets ignored and treated like crap.

            For bonus points, the sales team is 99% white male (they hired their first woman, white of course, last year), and the recurring revenue is majority women and entirely POC. So while upper management tries to say it’s because sales brings in the money, everyone knows it’s not just about the money.

        4. Snickerdoodle

          YES. Nobody’s indispensable, and being able to work with your coworkers is part of the job. Harassment policies exist for that reason. And when good employees quit because of bad employees, the company loses.

        5. Laurelma__01!

          Sometimes it takes someone 1 – 2 times to be terminated for bad behavior before they’ll change. Tolerating it gives it a green light, enforcing bad behavior. My boss treated me like crap, we did a mediation. The screaming stopped, but it’s held against me.

          At a minimum, they need to do a formal write up; state what isn’t acceptable; if this happens again, you’re out the door. Might require them to do some type of leadership training and anger management within a particular time frame to keep said job.

    2. Kdt

      HR is not your friend. The purpose of HR is to protect the organization. A manager represents the organization to his/her reports, therefore, HR will more than likely side with a manager unless it’s something egregious that endangers the organization.

      1. Jadelyn

        *sighs* Are we really going to have this conversation for the umpteenth time? Come on, I’m still on my first cup of coffee here. It’s too early for this s***.

        First of all, you are flat out incorrect as to the purpose of HR. Compliance (what you’re calling “protecting the organization”) is the very bottom level of what HR does. If HR were a pyramid, compliance would be the bottom block, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be the entire thing. And contrary to popular opinion, HR professionals are, in fact, human beings(!), with human emotions(!!) and even empathy(!!!), and will generally feel bad for employees who are being treated badly. (Shocking, I know!) In a situation where the manager is treating their reports terribly, even if it’s not actionable from a compliance perspective, good HR will step in anyway, because it’s unfair, it’s terrible for morale, it’s corrosive to an organization’s culture, and it’s just a crappy way to treat people and shouldn’t be allowed. HR does not “side with the manager” by default, and that’s an extremely unfair claim to make.

        However, HR is also not all-powerful, and we can try to step in, but if someone higher up the food chain refuses to listen, we can’t change that. If it’s a compliance issue, we have more power, which I think is why people wind up with the impression that that’s all HR does, but if it doesn’t rise to that level then we are only advisory and can be overruled by upper management. Kindly try to remember that there may be things going on behind the scenes that you don’t see, that HR might be trying like hell to fight for the employee in a given situation but be up against upper management who refuses to budge, and you’d have no way to know that when you’re assigning blame to the HR who was actually doing their best to help you.

        Like, I’m sorry that you’ve apparently had less than competent HR in the past that maybe did act like that, and it’s left you with lingering resentment or something, but you are wildly inaccurate in your characterization of an entire professional field.

        (gods, do people think we eat babies for breakfast or something? the level of callousness/hostility genuinely shocks me sometimes.)

        1. Cathy Gale

          This reaction happens after people have worked at firms and organizations where the HR department protected bullies, racists and sexists. You don’t know whether you have an HR organization that will protect you, or whether upper management will continue to allow the abuse, until you take a chance and trust them. But after you’ve been in the situation where bad HR people let you down, for instance at the cost of your career, you may never want to take a chance again.

          I definitely agree that there are people in your field that are doing everything possible to help their colleagues. But please also understand I just left a firm that has 3 discrimination suits pending, an active EEOC charge, and were found guilty in 2 discrimination suits. The HR department hides its location from employees and uses a call center. These are not the people you would be proud to acknowledge in your field.

        2. Pescadero

          HR does not “side with the manager” by default, they are largely powerless to effect change by default.

          They aren’t insensitive to employee problems, they just have no power to change the situation.

          As Colin Powell said –
          “If you are unable or unwilling to solve the problems of your people then you are not a leader”

        3. chi type

          I mean, people aren’t pulling this out of thin air, they’re speaking from experience.
          It’s great that you’re a great HR person in a great HR department but that is far from universal and nastily dismissing the many, many people who have seen HR basically fire the victim isn’t exactly making your protestations of empathy a slam dunk…

        4. SavannahMiranda

          Well you have to consider that even when HR is going to bat for someone and upper management is putting the kibosh on that, HR isn’t going to bad mouth upper management to the employee.

          Reasonably so. But that does leave HR holding the bag, in an opaque process. And the opacity of that process benefits upper management. When upper management says no, HR feels the rub and take the fall of messaging that, not management.

          So in this way the department does serve the needs of upper management. Compliance when required, advisory otherwise, and taking the fall when necessary. As crappy as that is to the HR people who may be left to transmit bad news that they don’t agree with but can’t within good business practices tell the employee they think management is exercising poor judgement.

          Even when a well-informed employee knows all of this on their best day, and generally extends goodwill towards HR, they may not recall in on their worst day when in the midst of a difficult situation, when they don’t have another outlet of authority to interface with in the organization.

          You guys are stuck taking the fall for stuff, but that doesn’t mean the employees on the receiving end have to feel gracious about that either.

  2. Jaguar

    Tell the ombudsman that you expect her to come interrogate you and ask him what you want to do to help his investigation in the event that it happens.

    1. Nervous Nellie

      And let’s hope that the ombudsman has a helpful script for everyone who came forward. She may not limit herself to confronting the OP. Hopefully he/she also has a strong definition of retaliation to give the woman so that she doesn’t split hairs later on when she gets up to something subtle.

      Also, I disagree with Alison on part of her response. If confronted by this woman, I would stop the discussion by saying I was not comfortable having it, and say absolutely nothing more. The woman is described as having tantrums and screaming, so this is not someone who starts off calmly and is open-minded about being told that she is hard to work for. I think no good can come of giving her any feedback. I fear that could set her off. Let HR and the ombudsman deal with giving her feedback, and just remain a cool, unflappable professional.

      I hope OP gives us an update! I sure hope OP and colleagues are ok through this whole mess.

      1. Chinookwind

        “The woman is described as having tantrums and screaming, so this is not someone who starts off calmly and is open-minded about being told that she is hard to work for. I think no good can come of giving her any feedback. I fear that could set her off. ”

        I agree that the OP could set her off, but there is also the (small) possibility that she might turn it around after the talking too. I had this happen to me (though I am still prepared for having set off a long timer instead of defusing a bomb).

        I have one big boss here who has a reputation at yelling at everyone, including her boss (who reacts well to it). She is CFO and is a prime example of a “missing stair” as every new hire has been warned that Joan will yell at you but not to worry as it isn’t personal and she can’t fire you. I work at a different location and the only time she yelled at me, I had made a mistake in a process that I didn’t remember being shown. When I said that I don’t remember Lance (our corporate accountant) showing me how to do it, she said she would go and yell at him later.

        At that point, my mouth took over and I told her that she shouldn’t yell at people because then they won’t ask for help if they are confused. She countered with “it is not your business who I yell at” and I said it wasn’t but it still wasn’t nice. She huffed and ended the call. For perspective, a week earlier, our payroll person was in tears when she called me about an issue and I am now jaded enough to have no more F*s to give when it comes to toxic bosses and I have enough saved to walk out the door and look for another job, so my mouth is now given free reign.

        Two days later we had our annual admin. meeting and I half jokingly said that there was a 50/50 chance I was going to say something to get myself fired if she yelled at someone. My boss, who had heard my portion of the call, said not to worry because she can’t fire me but I wasn’t positive that she couldn’t pull strings if I crossed her. Well, everyone came out of that meeting completely shocked because Joan not only did not yell at anyone (something which has happened at every other meeting, according to my boss) but she actively thanked us for our work.

        Now, I am not saying what I said made a difference, but it is possible for the toxic boss to change. I acknowledge it is rare and man does it make you uneasy when it does, but it can happen.

        1. Carbovore

          OP here–thanks for sharing this!

          Has Joan continued the good behavior since the meeting you reference? I’m curious! Your phrase about setting off a long timer instead of defusing a bomb totally resonates with me and my boss… I’m currently wondering myself with Miranda–will she behave herself for a few weeks and then go back to habits? Or is it truly possible for people to turn around? (Or at least… fake it!? lol)

          1. Chinookwind

            It has only been a month and the Payroll woman she made cry is leaving at the end of this week. She gave two weeks notice and was asked by Joan’s underling, in front of Joan, to stay for another 2 so she can train her replacement (Payroll woman said that it felt good to be shown she wasn’t incompetent). Payroll woman is giving her replacement a heads up about Joan(which is a standard warning for every new employee). Supposedly, there has been no more yelling. I would give her a full year before I would declare her in remission from the bullying, but it is looking good so far.

            1. gmg22

              With advance apologies for being Debbie Downer, my experience with the question of whether leopards/workplace bullies can change their spots is discouraging. Somewhat unusual for a nonprofit, but at my workplace most of the field staff are men because the policy area we work in (electric utilities) remains relatively male-dominated. In this group we have at least two yellers/email nastygrammers (both of whom fit the “valuable jerk” model) and one passive-aggressive dude. The largely female communications staff, myself included, are a frequent target of the yelling/nastygrams/passive aggression. In each of these cases, the offender has been talked to at intervals once the behavior becomes intolerable, and in each case they have in the short term gotten their acts together and behaved well. And then after a while … slowly we go down a spiral where the behavior begins again. I’ve been here four years and have seen everyone I’m talking about go through this cycle at least twice.

              All this said, we have a new chief operating officer who is quite dynamic and ready to come in here and root out the dysfunction, so I should try to continue to hope!

          2. Catherine

            I have been in a similar situation. Late last year I casually had an informal chat with an old friend who is a more senior manager in another team, knowing he would probably tip someone off. There was a big change, boss was much nicer, actually almost pleasant at times.

            For a few weeks/months. Until she got stressed, then she reverted to type. Tantrums were less frequent at first but have pretty much gone back to the same as before.

            So, I think it’s hard for people to change who they are without real motivation – and in this case it obviously hasn’t worked, she even got promoted. I’m working my notice. All four other team members already left.

        2. SavannahMiranda

          There are two kinds of bullies.

          Some bullies, when confronted, stand down. Being called on it makes them feel more secure and calm. Like a child when called on their tantrum. They are often even likely to show warmth and chumminess to the person who stood up to them later. It makes them respect that person. Which is no ends of confusing to the person who finally took the stand.

          Some bullies, when confronted, ramp up. Being called on it makes them feel more insecure, and vulnerable, and activates their impostor syndrome. They are more likely to retaliate both in the moment and later, sometimes in covert rather than over ways.

          The problem is you don’t know which kind you have until you test the waters.

    2. Lurker

      In my experience ombudsmen can’t/don’t do anything. They act as neutral third parties/mediators. I worked somewhere that I know from personal experience that the ombudsman had multiple complaints about a terrible department director. Despite a litany of complaints to the ombudsman and multiple resignations from the director’s subordinates (the entire department of 8 turned over at least 3 times under her) nothing ever happened to the horrible director.

      1. Granny K

        I will never understand how people like this stay in their positions. Personally I theorize that they have dirt on some executive and that’s why they get to stay.

        1. Chinookwind

          In our case, the owner likes having the toxic CFO around and actually responds well to how she treats him (which I gather is the same as everyone else – poorly). Frankly, it says a lot about the owner’s personality that I really don’t want to think about.

      2. Carbovore

        OP here–it’s the same here, essentially. (I work in higher ed.)

        It’s been explained to me that the ombudsman is a mediator/messenger. I knew that from the beginning and an equity person had even asked me at the beginning of this process, “What would you like to see happen?” I answered truthfully and said, ideally, I want Miranda gone! But knowing the university and the fact that it is rare that anyone gets fired, I told equity, “Honestly, at this point, I just want all of this on record finally so that I can build a paper trail and so that everyone can be on notice and I can protect myself if something happens in the future.”

        1. Anon Asst

          I wish you the best of luck but beware of the fallacy that HR is on the employee side. HR exists to protect the company.

          1. Jadelyn

            Oh, for f***s sake. I don’t have the energy or time for another in-depth reply, so I’ll just refer you to my reply to this claim higher up in the thread. TL;DR you’re wrong and you’re perpetuating a stereotype that is utterly unhelpful to literally anyone.

            1. Jennifer Thneed

              Look, there are *plenty* of people working in HR roles who are truly terrible. They may not be trained HR people; they may not have gotten a master’s in HR like a friend of mine did; but they are DOING human -resources work and they’re doing it badly. And yes, it reflects on the whole profession, and that’s a shame.

              And I disagree: I think the concept that HR is there for the company rather than the employee is a very good concept for people to learn when they are early in their careers and probably think of HR as “someone in my corner”. I mean, an individual HR person might very well be in their corner, but the overall department can’t be.

              But there’s HUGE differences between companies. In some, there are probably enough HR people to have whole departments that are about promoting wellness. But that’s not the part of HR that people have to deal with when they have crappy bosses. And in other companies, the entire HR department is one or two people, and one of them is really a bookkeeper doing payroll. And people really do have experiences where they take legit complaints to HR and they’re brushed off to their faces, or they’re thanked for the info and they see no visible changes of any kind.

              Given people’s *actual experiences* in working with their HR departments, maybe those stereotypes are earned by the profession? Maybe instead of yelling at people about “perpetuating stereotypes” you (the profession) could look inward about how to combat those stereotypes across the industry?

            2. Close Bracket

              tl;dr nah, she’s right

              Given the sheer numbers of people who have been pushed out or retaliated against by HR departments after bringing complaints, you should drop the No True HR fallacy. It might hurt your feelings to acknowledge that many HR departments would rather retaliate against employees than make the company look bad, but it is the case. If you don’t feel that your HR department would ever do such a thing, then first make sure that’s the case, and then stop taking the reputation of other HR departments so personally. It’s not about you. If it bothers you that much to hear about bad behavior in HR, why don’t you work to become an agent of change within the HR field? Work on building your reputation up, maybe start a consultancy or a training firm. Instead of saying “nuh uh!” when people complain about retaliatory HR departments, work to reduce the amount of retaliatory behavior within HR by producing ethical HR professionals via professional developing events? If you aren’t willing to create change, at the very least, stop telling people that they are wrong about their experience with HR.

        2. Sarah N

          Wait, you’re in higher ed? Does Miranda have tenure? If so, honestly I would just put all of your energy in to job searching.

      3. Jadelyn

        Does an ombudsman have the power to discipline or fire staff? Because if the ombudsman doesn’t have the power to force action on an issue, they can advise management to act on something all they want and if it falls on uncaring ears in higher management what can they do? But people blame the ombudsman because all they see is the lack of action, not the conversations and who was responsible for the actual decision-making.

  3. Putting out the positive

    While I don’t have any advice, because as I read this I was thinking, “did I write in and forget that I did?” lol, I’ll just offer my support and encouragement and that you are not alone. I’m dealing with my elephant by meditation, studying the principles of “The Secret” and bible study.

    1. Yvette

      I had the same thought too! My entire team has been interviewed as part of an ethics investigation this past week due to a couple of anonymous complaints about my supervisor’s outbursts, bullying and swearing. She’s terribly toxic but we’re trying not to get our hopes up that anything will happen…

        1. Yvette

          Ehh… 50/50. The hours are flexible, which I’m trying to capitalize on and fit in noon workouts. But that’s really the only perk. And the company looks surprisingly good on resumes.

      1. Carbovore

        OP here–so sorry to hear others are suffering in the same way.

        It wasn’t until this past year I read a ton of articles and did a lot of research and reading on “dealing with difficult people” that I was able to reframe everything mentally and sort of give myself a new outlook and perspective that has allowed me to relieve a lot of anxiety I used to have daily.

        (That’s not to say I still don’t occasionally have anxiety! But I am still somehow able to feel good about going to work and enjoying the majority of my work which, before this, wasn’t exactly happening.)

  4. Bee Eye Ill

    I am in a situation where our boss is not representing us at all, avoiding meetings with upper management, etc. We miss out on raises and promotions because of it. The problem is I don’t trust our HR department or even his boss to actually do anything if I were to file a grievance. I worry that I’d just bring a bunch of heat on myself, so instead I am quietly looking for another job after five years.

    1. Random thought

      Been there. 6 months after I left my boss was investigated on multiple complaints and suddenly retired. So glad I was not working there during that time.

      1. Bee Eye Ill

        And that’s just it…I want to think he will eventually retire or be replaced. I just don’t know how long that will be. I worry that as soon as I leave, things will get better. Hell, I might even be offered his job.

  5. bopper

    Honestly I would secretly turn recording on on my phone the next time I had to interact with her. It there was any retaliation, you have proof.

      1. Hills to Die on

        I thought about that too, but as blackcat says, it can be illegal or against company policy. Just document and maybe agree with a couple of your coworkers to be witnesses for each other or something.

    1. miyeritari

      Only do this if you live in a state (in the US) where one-party recording is legal. In many states (such as California), it is illegal to record a conversation without both parties consenting.

      1. McWhadden

        Same with Massachusetts. And even if it’s legal the company could have a policy against it.

      2. Clorinda

        There’s always, “Hang on a second, I’d like to record this conversation so we have it if we need it,” which is a pretty good conversation-stopper, or at least conversation-changer.

        1. McWhadden

          I think that’s a pretty good way to get yourself targeted by an abusive boss. And the boss can just say “no you can’t record this.” In two-party consent states refusal to allow something to be recorded is enough.

    2. irene adler

      If recording is out, suggest not being alone with this boss (if at all possible). Try to get a witness to hear any conversation that might transpire. Yeah, I know, not as easy as it sounds.

      1. Carbovore

        OP here–yes, this is a tactic several of us have been employing as often as we can. Still, there are routine 1:1s that we can’t avoid but overall, I have attempted to minimize interactions with her as much as possible which has helped quite a bit.

    3. LKW

      Stupid question – if you are being yelled at and you happen to “butt dial” the ombudsman, or better someone in HR who happens to pick up and hear the yelling… does that count as recording? Is there anything illegal about such an action?

      1. Wintermute

        Yes, that’s very illegal.

        It’s a crime that does not require intent, only the action, illegally recording something is illegal. Playing games about “oh but I didn’t mean to! hee hee” isn’t going to impress a judge, nor will it impress HR.

          1. Grapey

            True, but I don’t find it difficult to believe butt-dialing the ombudsman ‘by chance’ + the ombudsman ‘happening’ to stay on the line for the entire conversation + using what’s overheard in any actionable way is illegal.

            It’s like the “I tripped and fell and cheated by accident because my pants were undone” line.

      2. LKW

        Perhaps if I reframe it as if I’m on the phone with HR – just checking on my W2 -and crazypants comes in and starts screaming at me… not illegal right? There’s reduced expectation of privacy in an office. If someone from HR comes walking by while I’m being yelled at – same right? So if I call someone in authority while I’m being yelled at – and I’m not making any intentional recording – still illegal? Truly curious and trying to find the line here.
        Having been in similar circumstances – we were in a separate building from leadership. It was just our department and my boss was a yeller. Not as bad as the OP – but never before have I had to say “You can stop yelling at me now.”

        1. Merlin

          Someone overhearing a conversation/call is not recording. It is not a privacy issue (as in it’s “OK” if a third party is present, it’s a legal issue under state wiretapping laws.

          Simply, if your state mandates both parties consent to a recording (Illinois) then no recording from the phone, even by “accident.” If it’s New York, no problem as only one party (you) needs to consent.

    4. Carbovore

      OP here–I thought of this and many recommended it to me but as others replied, it’s illegal in my state.

  6. mark132

    Would it be appropriate to use a cell phone to record any way over the top reactions, literally pull out your phone and start openly recording it? I can see it useful to get the reaction but also as gasoline on the fire as well.

    1. solar flare

      oof, I think this is a really bad idea, both because without Miranda’s consent the recording is illegal in most places, and because it’s the most flammatory way I can think of to address her bad behavior

      1. Free Meerkats

        All party consent is only required in 12 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

        I live in WA, so one of the reasons I have the mic turned off on my windshield camera is so I don’t have to remember to notify anyone who gets into my car that they are being recorded.

        1. Carbovore

          OP here–I’m in one of those states. Trust me, something I thought about a LOT was recording her… primarily because a lot of people just plain didn’t believe me when I described the nature of the outbursts…!

      2. BF50

        Miranda rights apply to arrests, not interactions between two private parties. There are 2 party consent states as Free Meercats says, but they aren’t most places. Most places you do need one party consent so you cannot record a conversation between two other people, only one you participate in.

        I do agree that it’s inflammatory and that doing so would make the LW look unprofessional, but just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

        1. TootsNYC

          Nobody mentioned “Miranda rights”–they said “Miranda’s consent,” meaning Miranda The Person.

    2. Bea

      I’ve seen this result in a police report. The manager lost it more than ever and tried snatching the phone out of the person’s hand. It drastically depends on how unhinged the manager is in the long run. I don’t trust anyone with explosive tempers.

      1. Valenonymous

        One-party recording is only illegal in 12 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

        1. CJ Record

          Be careful if the state is Vermont – there’s no state statute either direction, and the case law is split.

        2. mark132

          I don’t think that is one party though. If you inform them that it is being recorded, then it is two party.

        3. J.B.

          My state is not one of those 12 you have listed, but my employer has a policy that anyone recording conversations without permission will be fired.

        4. uranus wars

          I read this as the police report being filed by the person doing the recording, because the unhinged manger went over the top when they tried to record them.

        5. LJay

          I think they’re saying it resulted in a police report because the phone was damaged or the person recording was injured in the snatching process, not because the recording itself was illegal.

        6. Slartibartfast

          Michigan law is fuzzy, because it prohibits ‘eavesdropping’, it doesn’t directly prohibit recording a private conversation you’re part of.

      2. AnnaBananna

        Yep, but if my boss basically throws something at me/near me…I am starting to take a keen interest in assault law. I’m really curious what the Boss’ Boss thought about Miranda throwing shit all over the office. Ugh, she’s such a child.

    3. JSPA

      Even in states where this isn’t a felony, recording is often a fireable offense, regardless of why it’s done.

      However, calling HR per a pre-acknowledged procedure, and putting it on speakerphone, could well be OK (so long as they’re not recording). Get the OK first. In writing.

  7. CommanderBanana

    I’m not sure I would trust an organization that has allowed this person to stay on staff to have my back.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It sounds like they may be dealing with it now that they know, though. Some managers like this are very good at it hiding it from higher-ups. I think I’ve talked about this here before, but I once discovered that a manager was being truly horrible to his staff — acting like a tyrannical dictator, basically, and if I remember correctly, yelling at people — and had instructed them all that they were not to ever talk to me without his permission. (They were in a different location so that was easier than it sounds.) I had been checking in with them periodically to hear how things were going and they told me nothing, because they were all afraid of him. It took a huge amount of work to get it out of people once someone tipped me off but I eventually did. We addressed it with him VERY seriously and made it clear his job was on the line, and that if he retaliated in any way, he’d be fired. He actually took management classes later and got a lot better.

      1. Clever Alias

        Our HR lady cried when she realized how bad it was. Years later, and only because like Alison’s note — someone finally got the courage to tip her off.

        1. Is pumpkin a vegetable?

          I am in HR myself, and this has happened to me. The smart ones treat us like gold, and we’re none the wiser. When people have come to me to complain about someone, it’s like we’re discussing two different people.

          1. Chinookwind

            I saw one senior admin. assistant do this. She had gas lighting the partner she supported down to an art form. We were only able to convince him that she was outright lieing to him about various facts (from inter-company politics to how hard it is to do her job) by showing multiple email chains from her that contradicted what she told him.

            It still took 6 months for her to be offered an early retirement package.

            1. NotAnotherManager!

              Yeeessssss. I worked with someone for a while who had done that to ALL of the partners she supported – they were terrified she’d leave as she had them convinced no one else could do her job and that their practices would fall apart without her. She lied to them about what HR said to her about her constant flouting of policy. She was verbally abusive to everyone (including the partners!) and they made excuses about provocation when she threw things at a coworker.

              Imagine her surprise when, after she walked off the job in a huff and didn’t come back for nearly a week, that we assumed she’s abandoned her job and sent her her last paycheck and acceptance of her resignation. (One of them still thought we should offer her her job back when she called to complain!)

              And this is why I have to restrain myself from hugging the lovely person who runs my HR at CurrentJob. I told her this story once, and was horrified from the start and could not believe it kept getting worse.

          2. Jadelyn

            Same. Earlier this year we learned that one of our regional managers was falsifying timesheets to get out of paying OT, giving staff “comp time” for going and working external events instead of paying them OT for it, yelling and swearing at staff in the branch, it was Bad. The only reason we learned it, though, was because the HR manager’s scheduled quarterly visit to the regional manager’s home branch happened to fall on a week that the regional manager was traveling to a management event elsewhere in the state. So the HR manager wound up in the home branch while it was “unattended” and staff felt safe coming to talk to her because the regional manager wasn’t hovering over their shoulders. It triggered a massive investigation, back pay for staff, and the manager got fired. I wish we’d been able to act sooner, but she was sweetness and light to us and her staff was too afraid to talk to us anytime we were there because she was always there too.

      2. Anon for this

        I witnessed a bit of this at OldJob as a manager of a satellite office. I had heard complaints about a manager of another office, but took some of it with a grain of salt having heard her side of it as well. But then I started noticing how differently she interacted with Sr leadership. Her entire physical demeanor changed. At that point, the red flags suddenly started becoming obvious.

        I left OldJob for different reasons, but decided to tip off our boss about the complaints, low morale, and the inconsistent expectations people were experiencing from their managers. He decided to meet with all direct reports to get people to open up, but of course, no one was comfortable doing so. I’m not sure what it takes to gain trust from employees who live in fear of their boss, but I’m heartened to hear that it can be and is done successfully.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I had to first track down info from people who had left — and were still hesitant to tell me the truth and only did so when one of their friends still on staff convinced them to. Once I had that and knew what was really happening, more people were willing to talk to me.

        2. AnnaBananna

          Oh, been there! But it was my colleague. We were both managers for satellite offices and she would call me to vent (really just talk sh*t about every single person in her site) but then around our boss she was a perfect angel. As soon as she was promoted to our bosses old job I quit – I no longer could respect her because I understood that she would eventually be discussing me with someone else and be super sweet to my face.

      3. Mayati

        He got better?! That’s honestly really surprising. (I’m not doubting it, just saying — it’s rare that abusive people reform as opposed to just getting better at hiding the abuse or choosing different targets.)

          1. J.B.

            I’m glad he was better while there. I wonder what you’d hear from current employees and coworkers. Sometimes people do need to be clearly told “that’s not ok” and sometimes they toe the line when forced.

        1. Wintermute

          That’s true of abusive people, but management is a different dynamic. Some people default to bad behavior because it’s the only pattern they know, it’s how they were managed, how they see management portrayed, so it’s what they do. It can also be the result of poor management skills and a lack of confidence in your power– you can fire people, you don’t have to yell, ever. You have all the power in that relationship you don’t have to scream at people. There’s also the dynamic where people promoted over former co-workers know all their bad behavior, and feel like they have to crack down so they’re not seen as “one of the crew” anymore but a manager.

          As a result, it’s more common with managers who were acting that way either by default, due to lack of confidence, lack of skill or insecurity.

      4. pcake

        How can this be hidden when the manager regular screams at the top of her lungs at people without even a closed door between the horrible scene taking place and everyone else in the office?

        1. Not So NewReader

          These people know exactly what they are doing. They wait until they know the nearby areas are vacant and no one can hear them. Or they know their boss is out, or whatever it takes to give them a green light.

          Many places that I worked for there was no upper management, there was just the manager. TPTB came a couple times a year.

          Other places the person doing the tirades is the owner or some other high title.

          They know exactly what they are doing and time it well.

          1. Windchime

            Yes, and at my place of business, I got screamed at in a big open room with about 20 witnesses. I went to HR and…..nothing happened. The screamer apologized about a week later, and from then on when he got angry he would just turn red and speak loudly with barely contained fury. Many people reported him, but he was supported by the director and nothing ever happened. HR just plain didn’t believe us.

      5. Carbovore

        OP here–yes! It’s very much this situation. Miranda has a direct line boss and a dotted line boss. The dotted line she sees more frequently but Miranda has, we have discovered, truly been a master of “Everything is Fine!” when it comes to meetings with her dotted line boss. And as you stated above, Miranda has instilled such a climate of terror with us that we all felt going around her would be a bad idea. (Particularly in higher ed. where rank means a lot… her dotted line boss is high ranking and not exactly someone you just knock on the door and chat with.)

        Even worse, Miranda’s direct line boss… well! Where to begin. The boss is another building across campus and Miranda rarely ever sees her. When she does, meetings are focused around metrics and meeting goals–never about staff or even any projects staff might be working on. Worse yet… that division is going through extreme turnover and… ok. I’ve been at this institution 6 years. Miranda is now on her 8th direct line boss since I have been here.

        This adds up to a perfect storm of no accountability and being able to hide dysfunction for a long time.

        (In our favor, however? SCORES of staff in both divisions “know” about Miranda. It’s an open secret on that level that she is terrible and rude to most people, not just her staff. Our formal reporting has somewhat opened those floodgates as well…)

      6. chickaletta

        I see this happening in my own workplace. Another manager in my department is very sweet and friendly and hard working around the director, but she’s been known to micromanage her staff, ignore issues they bring to her attention and doesn’t acknowledge people who pass her in the hallway if they’re not at her level. I used to smile and say “hi” if I passed her in the hall and she would literally keep her gaze forward and not say a thing. At first I thought maybe I wasn’t speaking loud enough but then I started hearing similar stories from coworkers. Upper management thinks she’s great though.

    2. Lord Gouldian Finch

      I think this stuff is easy to develop in otherwise positive organizations with a lot of satellite offices. I know of at least one case where a woman was being sexually harassed by her manager, and his boss was covering it up (they were buddies). But a visitor from another office found out (found the woman crying from the stress I think) and notified the head office and both managers got fired (I heard this from the head of legal who was pissed off the situation happened at all on her watch).

      1. AnnaBananna

        Well hallelujah! That’s an excellent story (well, outside of the stress crying of course).

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I’m concerned as well that the suggested replies to the boss’ inquiry be, ““This behavior you are exhibiting right now is a great example of why you were talked to.”
      This is not something that subordinate should say to to reasonable boss, much less this loon. In the best case, LW wants to avoid being collateral damage until this thing works itself out. This puts LW in direct line of fire. This statement indicates that LW has inside knowledge of the event and is part of the reason why it happened. I don’t think it’s fair or right that the company rep put the responsibility of scolding/directing boss on LW or anyone in her position.

      1. Jennifer Juniper

        Miranda may reply to this remark with a smart slap or a knock to the ground. And then OP would be blamed for causing trouble and fired for insubordination.

        1. Jadelyn

          This seems unnecessarily alarmist. There’s no indication that Miranda would get physical, and the company seems to be acting on what they know now that they’ve been tipped off, so Miranda firing someone immediately after that would be seen as suspicious and someone would likely intervene.

      2. AnnaBananna

        Thank you. I came here to say just that. I personally think it’s entirely inappropriate for her to speak to her boss this way (her role isn’t to coach her bosses behavior, it should come from Miranda’s leader), it’s also a waste of time, frankly, and really contentious which will put LW in a bad place with Miranda.

        ABORT!

      3. Carbovore

        OP here–yes, I did uh.. NOT consider that phrase as a serious one to use. (And.. this equity person and I have a relationship where we can joke and that comment was mostly suggested in jest.)

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          OK. That I get. As a little front line humor, it’s pretty funny. Otherwise, OMG how does that person have this job!

  8. Bea

    No suggestions because it’s out of my wheelhouse. But I’m glad that the people are finally seeking assistance with this terrible boss and hope it is finally fixed for everyone. I’m sad that they’ve been under stress for so long.

  9. Lily in NYC

    My coworker was the executive assistant to a crappy boss (not nearly as bad as the one here) and was able to get a transfer to a different department. When the crappy boss found out, he said “Oh, are you transferring because of me? Am I really that bad?” And she simply replied “Yes, you are really that bad”. It was awesome.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      And songs will be sung and stories told about her greatness on that day. AWESOME.

    2. NotAnotherManager!

      We had a guy once who bragged that he’d gone through a dozen admins in about 18 months. The CEO heard him bragging about this at a company gathering once and told him, in front of everyone, that that sort of behavior was nothing to be proud of, that admins were valuable members of the team, and that he [CEO] expected that everyone who worked for the organization would be treated professionally and with respect. The following week, Braggart was stripped of admin assistance entirely because “we aren’t going to subject people to that”. (The admins supported multiple people, so they removed him from her pod and didn’t reassign him.)

      Poor guy had an awful time learning to use the fax machine by himself.

      1. Carbovore

        :O

        Can I send that CEO a fruit basket? ‘Cause, wow. We need way more of that in this world!

  10. Sara without an H

    I can’t help but wonder what’s turnover like in this department? I’d assume the “high performers” would be leaving at a pretty good clip.

    1. Mayati

      Never underestimate the ability of an abusive boss/environment to make you believe you deserve no better, and nowhere else will hire you or put up with your incompetence.

      Job searching gets harder the longer you stay somewhere like this, because it absolutely guts your confidence and makes you terrified of work in general.

      1. Anonymous Ampersand

        I left job with shitty narcissist boss over 15 years ago and I’m still living with bad job PTSD

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yep. It stays with you. Many companies do all this stuff to keep health care costs down but they refuse to deal with toxic bosses. We had the food police at one place, but no one would deal with the boss who mocked and bullied people. No one.

    2. Bea

      You have to be self confident and determined to leave. We see so many people here talking about trying to leave their toxic bosses.

      It wasn’t hard for me. I experienced a very-bad-boss-meltdown and had a new job within a month. I also have only myself to depend on and a wild streak.

      However it’s shockingly easy for others to stay somewhere and accept the abuse because they’re making money and without that money they’re absolutely destitute. I’ll pack my cat in his carrier and go squat at my parents before I’m trapped but that’s not acceptable if you have kids or a spouse or anyone elsw who relies on you to keep them housed and fed.

      1. Cercis

        And if you grew up in a similar environment, you just don’t realize how wrong it is nor do you have the necessary coping skills or confidence. I’ll probably be in therapy the rest of my life to overcome my childhood and subsequent bad bosses.

        1. Sunshine

          Yep. It didn’t even occur to me that bosses yelling at their staff was unacceptable behaviour until I started reading this blog. I thought I was just weak for being upset by it.

    3. Michaela Westen

      I survived an abusive family and I don’t stay around abusive people longer than I have to, for any reason. I feel there’s not enough money in the world and life is too short. Of course, I only take care of myself and the two cats I used to have, and that makes/made it easier to do this.
      I was tired of financial instability and decided to get and keep a good job. I got a job at a small business and it was working for the most horrible person I’ve ever known. She was like both my abusive parents rolled into one, and then some.
      Of course I didn’t want to keep working for her and I looked for something else beginning in 2008, at the height of the recession. I didn’t get to leave until 2011, when she (thank God) laid me off. I got a much better job 5 months later.
      So even if you know you don’t deserve it, it can take a while. I was lucky to have supportive colleagues and outside activities that helped me stay cheerful. Even so, the stress had gotten so bad I was on the verge of quitting with no job lined up and no money.

      1. Hills to Die on

        I have worked really hard to guarantee that I have the finances can just up and leave if I need to. It has taken a lot of time and hasn’t always been within my control. Things happen. But once you get there, it’s an amazing feeling.

        1. Chinookwind

          Like Hills to Die On, I have worked hard to have a nest egg that means I can leave if I need to or, more importantly, speak up without fear. Having lived pay cheque to pay cheque and learned how to pawn belongings, I have put up with toxic workplaces and toxic bosses. Heck, professionalism and feeling responsible for how it would affect my students (as well as my housing being tied directly to it) kept me in a toxic school environment a month longer than was healthy or safe.

          But now I am in a position where I am safe to speak up as the consequences will not destroy me or others. As a result, I almost feel it is my responsibility to do so (or at least protect others) because I know why so many others won’t or can’t. And it has surprised me how, sometimes, having only one person speak up can be what it takes for the behaviour to change or at least shift focus.

    4. Carbovore

      OP here–You are correct.

      I have been here 6 years (I was Miranda’s admin for 5 of those years until my recent promotion which has actually relieved a lot of stress from horrible work/personal boundary blurring).

      The other high performer who has, in my opinion, gotten the worst of Miranda’s ire this past year is what we colloquially in the office call the “#2” position. As in, she’s Miranda’s deputy. Being Miranda’s deputy is… near impossible for most productive, sane human beings. In the 6 years I have been here, Miranda has driven away 3 deputies. She is now on her 4th who, if not for some personal issues of her own, probably would have left by now too. We sadly have come to expect deputies to only stay around 1 to 2 years because that’s usually about the length of time it takes them to figure out the severity of Miranda’s abuse and that the rest of the job/benefits just aren’t worth staying.

      In case any of you are wondering why I’ve endured as long as I have–well, I have found that this job really ticks most boxes for me and has been (unfortunately) worth the abuse. I love what I do (majority of the time!), I enjoy the majority of people I work with, and I find it fulfilling. Salary and benefits are great. I just can’t go through with being chased out of this job that I so much enjoy were it not for her abusive management. (This is not to say I don’t still peruse listings and haven’t interviewed for other opportunities here and there…)

      1. chi type

        I understand the calculation you’ve done but none of what you list here is that extraordinary. I think you can find all of this minus the abuse!

    5. Windchime

      In my case, 21 people have churned through an 11 person department over the course of about 4 years. (4 of those 11 were manager who, of course, stayed throughout it all). I think there are only 2 original people left on the team; everyone else either transferred, quit, or was fired.

      Old job finally, just last week, fired the Director who was responsible for running the entire department. Finally.

        1. Cercis

          I am, and even then. But it’s because I have a conscience and the companies hiring don’t. So, I make a bit here and there consulting and teaching.

    1. Carbovore

      Oh! How funny. I answered this just above (OP here!). Hope you don’t mind the copying and pasting: “In case any of you are wondering why I’ve endured as long as I have–well, I have found that this job really ticks most boxes for me and has been (unfortunately) worth the abuse. I love what I do (majority of the time!), I enjoy the majority of people I work with, and I find it fulfilling. Salary and benefits are great. I just can’t go through with being chased out of this job that I so much enjoy were it not for her abusive management. (This is not to say I don’t still peruse listings and haven’t interviewed for other opportunities here and there…)”

    2. chi type

      Toxic work situations are not unlike abusive relationships. People stay because it’s not all bad all the time and the good aspects allow you to rationalize that just this one little thing needs to be fixed whereas everyone on the outside can see that the one little thing is an appalling dealbreaker.

  11. Matt

    I have to ask the OP what has been your motivation for sticking around in this ultra-toxic environment? What do you get out of your job that justifies putting up with this horrible manager?

    1. Persimmons

      My instinct was that the fake name was chosen on purpose to highlight LW’s reasoning. (I.e., she had to work for THAT WOMAN, but it’s Vogue. Put up with it long enough and you open doors everywhere.)

      1. Persimmons

        * Not that I think she’s actually literally reporting to Wintour, but that sort of scenario.

      2. Carbovore

        OP here–you caught me. It’s completely a Devil Wears Prada reference.

        (My coworkers and I joke that she is a more bombastic Miranda because remember, Miranda in the movie never actually yelled!)

        We have literally a few times yelled into the suite, “SHE’S COMING! GIRD YOUR LOINS, PEOPLE.”

    2. PeanutbutterJellyTime

      Gaslighting is a hell of a drug. My partner stuck it out through 2 years of promises, bait & switch and outright lying because each time was different enough from the others that it didn’t trip immediate alarms. It was only after an elderly woman was injured & her pets killed by a gas leak, an employee was kept on after telling the owner he was often high on shrooms while working on gas lines, and another employee was kept on after being repeatedly caught skimming commissions from other employees’ paychecks, that the perks of a relatively high wage and flexible schedule were negated.
      We can’t afford to live on one income right now, but it’s just ethically not possible to remain associated with a company whose owner permits this. Why does he permit it? Current theory based on observation & direct inquiry is that guy is a mentally ill (self-admitted) rescuer who collects people more broken than he is so he can feel like a ‘big man’ in keeping them employed. They, in return, offer unquestioning butt-in-chair, and my ethics & boundaries-having partner only offers solutions and pesky attention to legal & professional norms and thus was made the target of negging & bullying.
      So yeah, people stay because they need the money, because they think they can help, because they need the bullet point on their resume, and so on. And they stay because they took a bad person at their word enough times to be mired in gaslighting and dysfunction.

      1. Carbovore

        OP here–there’s a lot of what you mention wrapped up in my situation. I comment elsewhere quite a bit that I actually really love quite a bit about my job but at the beginning of this career? When I probably didn’t have so much invested? Well, I convinced myself for a long time that maybe this is just how things were in the “real world.” (This job is my first “real job.” I’d previously worked in retail for 10 years and… if you can even believe it… that job was 100 times worse in terms of abuse and low morale. I actually would drive home each night sobbing and was on the cusp of a mental breakdown/depression, I am certain, until I got hired at my current job!)

        So, you can imagine that I was about willing to do anything at that point and willing to overlook certain things because, “Hey, wasn’t as bad as that last place!”

    3. Girl friday

      People have long-term goals that aren’t served by reacting to every bad manager out there. That’s my opinion anyway!

      1. Alternative Person

        Yeah, I stuck/am sticking out my current main job because the pay was good, the hours decent and the top-tier places won’t look at you until you have certain qualifications. I’ll hopefully be mostly transitioning out over the next months/year as I’m in the process of getting said qualifications but I couldn’t have done this without a job that paid well enough to afford the training.

    4. CA

      In my personal situation, when my boss calmed down his bad behavior was often apologized for with substantial promotions and bonuses. Money is a helluva drug, especially if you’re young. Also, see: young.

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        That’s a classic abuser sequence of events. In a romantic relationship, it’s the flowers and date nights and “honeymoon feelings” after terrifying arguments. In your workplace, it’s money.

        I’ll bet your boss also never ever yells in front of anyone who would discipline him.

    5. Carbovore

      OP here–I answered this a couple times above. :)

      A more uh… therapy-couch answer to attest to my endurance is also that my mother unfortunately shares a lot of Miranda’s qualities and they’re about the same age–I’ve grown up with some of this as my “norm” and it’s been hard to not fall into the same coping mechanisms that allowed me to get through some of my adolescence.

  12. MassMatt

    I wonder about turnover here too, why would any high performer stay there? At some point she would wind up with a team full of do-nothings.

    OP I would hope for the best but prepare for the worst and start looking for other jobs if you haven’t already. It is possible that the org/ombudsman etc will take appropriate action but I am skeptical. The same organization allowed this to go on for however long. Maybe your boss is just good at kissing up while kicking down, but I doubt the boss will improve, and the fact that this is being handled by an “ombudsman” seems weird as well. Perhaps this is unique to your industry but does Miranda not have a BOSS? Does this ombudsman have the power to fire or enact a performance improvement plan? If not, why would Miranda care what he says?

    1. Jennifer Thneed

      The point of an ombudsman is that they are outside of normal hierarchies and (ideally) have the right to talk to anyone in the organization without worrying about boss-politics. And they don’t have history with anyone either (like Miranda’s boss has history with Miranda). Think of them like auditors, maybe?

  13. Not Miranda, or Andy, or Emily...

    I take it that “Miranda” was chosen as the name to reflect the infamous “Miranda Priestly” of “The Devil Wears Prada” fame. It got me thinking that when the OP’s Miranda is having on of her yelling bouts, to respond as Ms. Priestly did: in a very calm, quiet voice almost a whisper.

    I’ve seen this work in real life and it’s amazing how that tone can “put the fear of God” in someone.

    “That’s all.”

    1. Carbovore

      OP here–I have always desperately wished for this ability, the calm assertiveness. I inherited my father’s temperament though–extremely adverse to confrontation until things build, and build, and build and then! Explosion!

      I have managed to not explode at this job… I think. The closest I came was when Miranda gave me a particularly awful dressing-down for no reason and I went to the bathroom and cried in rage and kicked the bathroom door a few times. I came back to my desk and was still upset and she had the nerve to bark for me to come to her office again to go at me for a second round. When I got in there and she saw my red, blotchy face (I am an Ugly Crier), she said, “Oh? Uh, are you ok?” (as if I was the unreasonable one) and all I could reply through gritted teeth was, “I don’t want to talk to you about it right now. Because anything I say is NOT going to be constructive at the moment.” That seemed to frighten her momentarily and she let me go home but I never did get the gumption to actually discuss that interaction with her…

      1. Chinookwind

        I have learned that there is value in that explosion, though, when you are known as the calm one. When I got pushed to the edge once (at the place where the Admin Ass’t. was gas lighting her partner), I literally quit on the spot, packed my stuff and was walking out the door (thus leaving reception unmanned), the head of the admin. assistants took me seriously enough to negotiate what it would take to get me to stay. It wasn’t money but a change in who was covering my breaks and the security for my email system and login (so no one could pretend to be me). These weren’t new complaints but, because I had hit my limit, they finally took them seriously and immediately changed things (including finding a work around for the IT policy to make my computer more secure).

        If I hadn’t blown up, nothing would have changed. I would never plan to use this type of outburst as a negotiating tactic, but man it does make an impact.

        For the record, I was later promoted internally, so it obviously didn’t taint my perceived professionalism either.

      2. Jennifer Thneed

        OP, temperament is not like eye color: you can amend it. You might inherit a general calmness or activeness, but the way you handle anger is something you learned from your conflict-averse father and it’s something you can change.

        (A good way to learn what that calm assertiveness feels like is to work around 3-year-olds. They’ll say whatever they say, but you know it isn’t really personal and you can let it roll right off your back like water off a duck.)

        I’m not – NOT – trying to say that you have caused or deserved the way this terrible boss treats you. But I *am* saying that you are not limited in how you respond to outrageous treatment, and it IS possible to approach these things head-on. Difficult, but not impossible. There are therapists who specialize just in helping you adjust your responses, and don’t really care about your childhood or your dreams or anything. (Think of them as emotional trainers, similar to physical trainers at the gym.)

  14. Mayati

    I’ve taken the “answer with some candor” route. My boss appeared reasonable-ish and seemed to take it seriously, and then, a couple days later, he started ramping up his abuse of me in particular.

    You have to be very wary of abusive bosses, because many of them can turn the abuse on and off strategically, or retaliate in ways that aren’t obviously connected to the HR report or to your candid answers. They get to managerial positions or succeed/”succeed” as business owners because they aren’t out of control of their abuse; rather, they know whom they can abuse, how, and how much they can get away with. That means they don’t all blow up immediately when they know there will be consequences. A clever abuser can let that anger simmer.

    1. RedBlueGreenYellow

      Agreed about the clever abusers.

      I left my last job because of an abusive boss. She was very, very good at managing up, and all of her peers and those above her thought she was the kindest, most helpful manager of all time. Even when half the people who reported to her left, opinions were pretty split about whether she was the problem or the team members were the problem. (She created this entire narrative about how her team was set in its ways and resisting modernization, and a lot of people who didn’t see the behind-closed-doors put downs, manipulation, and bullying bought it.)

      The ultimate good news of that story is that the abusive boss slipped up in public in a way that presented a legal liability to the company, and she was let go. The bad news is that several high performing, senior employees had already left.

    2. Bea

      This is absolutely true.

      My old boss was good at keeping his crazy locked up until it would slip out of its box. We were super cool until we weren’t.

      I thought the stress just exploded into this beast I was dealing with. Didn’t care, still left that crap.

      Come to find out his MO was to turn on people instantly if he decided he didn’t need or like them. I caused a wave, despite running his business with a forever skeleton crew and staff who couldn’t do their jobs. My old staff invited me out my last day and were candid about other crap they saw before my time. Confirming he chases away everyone who he decides he’s done with. They were gutted because they thought I was finally the one who’d stay and continue to make their lives better.

  15. Jam Today

    No real advice other than I immediately recognized myself in the “inappropriate boundaries” comment. The things we acclimate to, and then embrace as a survival mechanism, are astounding and often we only realize just how bad our situation was after we have time and distance away from it. The amount of energy it takes to thread the needle of survival in an abusive / harassing situation is really breathtaking (literally in my case, I got flattened by pneumonia!), and I lament how little I was able to grow in my job and career because I was using so much of my brain trying to navigate daily activities without being screamed at, insulted, or hit on.

    1. Carbovore

      OP here–thanks so much for this comment! This is exactly how I feel about it, particularly the “navigating how to not be abused” on a daily basis! My other coworker and I were talking about this recently, how our productivity and work quality has diminished because we are completely unable to focus at times.

  16. TootsNYC

    I think this is pretty powerful: “Think of yourself as modeling “this is what normal, functional behavior looks like,” the way you might do with a child who was struggling to regulate their behavior.”

  17. T

    There’s going to be retribution big time is my guess, and it’s not the OP’s fault. This sounds a lot like my old job, my boss dumped all the work on me and held me to a higher standard than my colleagues. She let them screw off all day and spend a minimum of 5 hours talking or doing nothing. When I left I said nothing to HR about the screaming fits she directed at me so loud the entire building heard, but other people complained to HR and suddenly our branch was labeled toxic. OP you need to start looking for another job, I doubt the complaints will fix your boss’s behavior. If the company allowed it in the first place then it is highly dysfunctional.

  18. JM

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Some commenters have asked how the boss is allowed to stay, and why the OP stays. I’m not the OP, but I had a very similar Miranda-type boss in my previous job, so I can offer some explanations, at least as they applied to my case.

    How the bad boss stays:
    I worked at a non-profit. My boss was (still is) the Executive Director, and there is no boss above her. There is a Board of Trustees that is supposed to oversee her, but all of us employees felt that they were a joke. They do little more than serve as yes-men who just approve everything she does. She spent tons of money on gadgets that she thought were cool but ended up unused, a website that is constantly being revamped, and a personal cell phone for herself. They look at the budget report every month and never ask any questions.

    One of my co-workers got demoted, with a reduction in salary, and wrote a complaint letter to the board. They had a secret meeting (without the Executive Director) and discussed it for about 2 hours, but nothing was ever done. The demotion went unchanged. During my last year, the Board sent a satisfaction survey to the employees. We discussed among ourselves how we filled it out, and we had unanimously ripped her apart. We talked about things like her rudeness, inability to accept any kind of disagreement, spending money on things that she personally wanted but didn’t benefit the organization, while at the same time denying small purchases we needed to do our jobs, ordering staff to spend work time doing things for her (such as fixing issues with her personal cell phone), etc. All that happened was that the board had a talk with the ED to let her know where were some issues. A few months later I left my job there, so I don’t know if anything else came out of that, but she’s still working there.

    My thinking is, those people joined the Board so they could feel like they are more involved in this field, or so they can put it on their resume, etc. None of them want to make waves. They just want to attend the monthly meetings, nod their heads and say “Yes, Miranda” to whatever she does. No matter how bad it gets, none of them want to be the one to step up and cause her to be removed. I think, unless she gets in legal trouble for how she spends the organization’s money (which I wouldn’t be surprised of), she’ll be there until she retires.

    Why I stayed:
    I stayed there for about a decade. At first, it wasn’t too bad. I originally reported to someone else, and the ED was my grand-boss, so I didn’t deal with her directly. Eventually, my direct boss left, some duties were reshuffled and they hired a part-time person to take on some of it, and I started reporting directly to the ED.

    By that time, I was already “comfortable” in the job, so to speak. I liked the work and liked my co-workers. Plus, the job was super close to my house (only 3 miles away), and had extremely generous vacation time. And I think part of it was that old “frog in the boiling water” analogy – things got more toxic gradually and I think I was just used to it. By year 7 or 8 my husband was repeatedly telling me I should look for another job, because it was taking a toll on my mental health. I still felt like I wanted to stay, because other jobs in this field would not be so close to my house or offer so much vacation. (Silly, I know.) Eventually things got really bad between me and the ED – and I can’t explain more without giving away any identities. But I eventually ended up quitting without having another job lined up. Around the same time, one of my co-workers decided to retire much earlier than she had planned, to get away from the ED.

    I did find another job after a few months. No more short commute, but still with a lot of vacation, and my boss and grand-boss are both great people. Looking back, I wish I had quit years ago. But I think at the time, I felt like the other aspects of the job were so nice that I wouldn’t be able to find anything else as good.

    Most of my former co-workers are still there. Two of them really want to leave because of the ED, but they are both near retirement age and didn’t want to be job-hunting again at that point. So they decided to just stick it out a few more years.

    1. Oranges

      Thank you for your explanation. It’s interesting to see how dysfunction happens and why people stay.

      Also, I’m glad that you’re outta there!

    2. Carbovore

      OP here–oh man, so much of this resonates with me. The frog boiling in water analogy! So apt.

      (Similarly… my industry is fundraising.)

      (Do you find that this personality type is quite prolific in the industry? I have come across so many like Miranda in our division and it seems like a position that draws in people who love power and no accountability…)

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        Seems to me that you’re in sales, of a sort, and yes, sales does attract dysfunctional people “as long as they keep bringing the money in”.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I second Jennifer Thneed. People in sales/fundraising/development have to separate people from their money. This requires a thick skin and tunnel vision. Close, close, close.
        Some of the successful people are charming to everyone. Others mow down everyone.
        The company doesn’t care how the sausage is made, as long as its making money.

  19. all the candycorn

    My advice would be to play extremely dumb and say something along the lines of, “Why are you asking me this?” until she says something about “complaints to HR” and then you say, “oh wow that sounds rough, I’m sorry, I don’t want to get involved.”

  20. voyager1

    Considering you linked to the yelling boss podcast and I haven’t listened to it yet, I ask one question. How much do you fear this woman? Not necessarily physically… personally I like the last line you gave “This behavior…” I would probably go with that and then after saying it walk away from her.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    1. Carbovore

      This is a question my husband has asked me as well, “Do you think she’d physically hurt you?”

      I honestly haven’t been able to answer it. My inclination is to say, no, she wouldn’t go that far but… truthfully, she is extremely unpredictable! And, to boot, she has often been physically terrifying in other ways. (The way she can sometimes position herself talking to you, pointing a finger at you aggressively, banging her fists on furniture, etc.)

      One wonders if you angered her enough if she would turn the physical abuse to you!

      I actually for a bit was a bit frightened in terms of her coming to the office and, well, decimating us all with a firearm. :(

      1. voyager1

        Yeah that was my first thought, this woman sounds more scary to me then the guy who got profiled in the podcast for banging his desk and cussing, this person has actually thrown stuff at you and gotten in your face.

        Shoot the comments on the podcast with angry guy was pretty much everyone agreeing that he probably kept and AR under his desk and was just one bad email away from going full Quentin Tarantino. This woman has actually shown violence towards you.

        I still think that last thought though about her behavior is the way to go if she confronts you. Say your piece and then walk away.

        On an unrelated point, I think this letter really just shows some of biases about angry/scary women vs angry/scary men. Both genders can prscary and violent, but society really struggles to take a woman seriously, heck at some level maybe society elevates and almost festishes them in a way.

        1. wherewolf

          Interesting point about angry/scary women vs. men. I wonder how much of it is a gender-based perception thing (“Aw look, she’s grumpy”) and how much of it is a statistics- or facts-based perception thing (like how many angry man stories translate into actual violence or terrorism, vs. how many angry women stories). But I definitely think people don’t think she is as dangerous as a man would be in the same position.

  21. Carbovore

    Hello, everyone, I’m the OP of this letter! Alison, thank you for posting/responding. I wanted to be here live at posting but as it happens… I was in a meeting with Miranda! (Oy.)

    I am going to read through all the replies but a small update I can give: The meeting with the ombudsman and Miranda happened earlier this week. Miranda seems to have figured out the main sources of the complaints (myself and another high performer that has been treated ruthlessly as of late) and is responding to us by mostly giving us the silent treatment and only interacting us when a work issue requires it–the rest of the office is still getting bubbly, manic Miranda. (Other Coworker and I, frankly, are kind of pleased with this outcome. It’s not ideal but honestly, we were expecting the worst–a screaming banshee or retaliation. And we don’t really want “weird friendship cool mom Miranda,” because that Miranda loves to blur work/personal boundaries.)

    To Alison’s points in her post, I had early on in the process asked equity to explain outcomes and possible responses, etc. They indeed brought up retaliation with me and said it will be made clear by the ombudsman that this conversation is essentially a huge warning for her and that she will be instructed she cannot now come back and retaliate against her staff for feedback given in good faith. (For background, I’m in higher ed., if that switches any lightbulbs for those of you familiar with the labyrinthian and bureaucratic nature of the industry…) I found out today this conversation was not exactly official and apparently, Miranda could have completely opted out of it if she chose to with no repercussions. Miranda’s bosses (she has a direct and a dotted line) apparently are extremely hesitant to make this a “formal” process. (Equity meanwhile told me they had recommended to the bosses a PIP and some other formal structures.) So, equity is on our side, in that sense.

    Regardless, I suspect the retaliation conversation took hold with Miranda because in the past few days… well, I don’t know exactly how to describe it but… her affect has been wavering between cold shoulder treatment and about to burst into tears when she has to interact with me. (I’ve had a few meetings where tears were literally pooling in her eyes and she seemed extremely pained to even have to speak to me. I’m sure this has to do with feelings of betrayal… I’ve known her long enough that I’m not sure that any of it is guilt or shame… particularly because she has kept up with passive-aggressive comments here and there.)

    The other bit you mention, Alison, about wondering what would happen if we were candid…. oof. I have at times been very direct with Miranda (in as gentle and professional a way as I can) and it does. Not. End. Well. It’s typically taken out on me, sometimes at a later date, but she’ll let you know she hasn’t forgotten the transgression. Once I made a suggestion of truly delegating a task to me and other higher performer… because she tends to control everything and hampers our work process by leaving big decisions to the last minute so why not relieve herself of that when high performer and I are always the ones to do the work for it anyhow? She sniped at me that it was too important a task to delegate. Days later at a routine staff meeting, she dumped a task on me when it probably could have been parceled out to someone else and said very snottily, “Remember, Carbovore? You told me I needed to start delegating some more. So, here–I’ve DELEGATED this to you. How about that?” Very adversarial.

    All in all, the few coworkers who know about this and I are pretty much acting like Business As Usual. I’d wondered if it was the right thing to do but it felt like the right thing to do and I’m glad to see Alison echo that in her answer. The only thing that worries me is Miranda seems to be relaxing here and there after noticing we all pretty much haven’t changed OUR behavior… and while I want her relaxed(!), I don’t want her to be cavalier and/or think to herself, welp, nothing significant seemed to happen so maybe I can go back to pushing the envelope…. Only time will tell. Our one equity person who has been in her same role in the same office for decades did share with me, “In my experience, people like Miranda…. they do not change after one conversation. Be optimistic but also be aware that this likely wasn’t a cure-all….”

    1. Me again

      OP, as soon as I saw ombudsman, I thought higher ed. I’m in higher ed myself and holy cow, it’s hard to get fired. If someone brings in grant money, is popular with donors, has tenure- forget it. But even when there’s nothing that big, people seem very, very reluctant to provide oversight or accountability. The best way to get rid of Miranda is for her to get another job. Know any recruiters? ;)

      1. Carbovore

        Bwah! Yes, you called this exactly… I am specifically in a unit that raises funding. :) And Miranda is the senior fundraiser! And has been in the position over a decade! Andddddddddddd my particular institution is going through extreme and dysfunctional leadership changes with extreme turnover as a result soooo…. basically, perfect recipe for folks not being willing to deal with this or get rid of her.

        Miranda is extremely insecure–we’ve wondered if she might bail and look elsewhere but…. she’s close to retirement, her work situation is so sweet it’s not even funny (no accountability, six figure salary, great benefits) so… methinks she won’t go quietly.

        1. EmmaBird

          So my last day at my current job is Friday– also in higher ed and MAN– I really thought I was reading about my own situation outside of actually escalating to HR (I never bothered for various reasons). A few years ago we went through some really extreme leadership issues (that rose to the level of being national news for a very brief period) that also started up a period of crazy turnover. The headliners resigned quickly but there were some stragglers that were adjacent to the drama that I thought were going to get off scot-free. By some miracle they were eventually told to find other jobs and landed, with golden six-figure parachutes, in other roles at other institutions. One of those people has now caused their institution a bunch of issues but I suspect that won’t stop them from still getting picked up somewhere else when the time comes…

          If Miranda is super close to retirement there’s probably no chance of that happening but hey! You never know.

    2. Hills to Die on

      Thanks for the update – please check in later and let us know how it all shakes out!

      1. voyager1

        There is no way I could work in Higher Ed. Sexually harass female students/grad students… no worries if you got tenure and “do good work” or “esteemed in his field”. Total white privledged male central.

        I honestly thought might be a library setting. We get some interesting stories about the wacky world of libraries on this site.

    3. chi type

      Just curious, what does equity mean in this context? I tried googling in relation to higher ed but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant….

  22. MommyMD

    I turned in a screamer the very first time she screamed at me for waiting quietly outside her office out of her vision until she finished a phone call. Turns out she had been very abusive to the under-staff while being a beacon of cooperation to any one who could fire her. The screamer was found out, got reamed by the high ups, and I never heard her scream again. She was shifty. Hid it for two years, no one reporting her. Screamers are the worst.

  23. Big Biscuit

    I’m dubious about an “ombudsman”. Come on, you don’t get to throw your glasses past a person when you’re upset. You don’t get to scream at your staff with your door open. The group needs to go to HR and HR needs to drop the hammer on this “leader”.

  24. Killroy

    When the egregious managerial qualities you mention describe a certain head of state who successfully gains in power everyday, why should a manager strive for fairness and decency? I’m surprised the OP even bothered to stick her neck out in pursuing this fruitless quest. This is our future, unfortunately.

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