A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Working for a Control Freak
Dear Sue: I work for someone who is impossible to please. She
blows up easily, and is a control freak. Her demands are relentless and
unrealistic. She expects miracles, and stresses out everyone around her.
Because she is so intense, it is impossible to approach her, and we end up
suffering as a result. What are our options? - Suffering
Sue Says: Your only option, other than quitting your job or
seeking a transferring to another department, is to talk with her. As
uncomfortable as it will be, you need to do something unless you are
willing to continue to work under these stressful circumstances. Although
it will be uncomfortable for you, if you take some time to think about
your approach and plan what you want to say, you have a greater chance of
You don't want to blame her or create more stress for yourself. Perhaps
you can let her know that you all work very hard to please her and want to
make her job easier, but are having a difficult time because of the
intense environment and feel as though nothing you do is satisfactory.
Perhaps you can ask her if there is anything you can do to help alleviate
some of the stress you all (including her) feel.
There is a good chance you may feel worse as a result of your talk, but
also a chance you can reach her. However, unless you are willing to do
something, and stand up for what you need, you surely won't see any
changes made. If you still cannot open the doors of communication and she
becomes worse or stays the same, then you will need to talk with someone
else. I realize it is tough, and may add some additional stress initially,
but if you do nothing, nothing will change.
Dear Sue: My boss, who is loved by everyone, has approached me
inappropriately when we were away on business. This is the first time he
has ever done anything inappropriate, and I was shocked. I refused his
advances, and he has been distant and cool toward me ever since. I am
afraid that no one will believe me if I say something, and don't want to
make the situation any worse. Meanwhile, working with him has become very
uncomfortable. What should I do? - Uncomfortable
Sue Says: You have not done anything wrong - your boss has. You
aren't the only one who is uncomfortable - there is a good chance your
boss is as well, which explains his distant and cool behavior toward you.
Unwanted sexual advances are not something you have to tolerate. You
need to say something to him and possibly to his supervisor or someone in
human resources as well. It sounds as though he understood that you are
not willing to cross the line with him, since he has not approached you
again, so perhaps talking with him about the discomfort you feel as a
result may help. However, if you are too uncomfortable to speak to him
directly, you have every right to go above his head. Keep in mind, that he
is the one in the wrong, and in the long run can cause serious problems
for himself and the company if this type of behavior continues. Do
yourself and other potential victims a favor and speak up.
Dear Sue: I am out of work and have not found a job yet. I am
bored and feel as though my talents are wasting away. What can I do to
increase my chances of finding work and decrease my boredom during this
transition? - Bored
Sue Says: Treat looking for a job like a job. Make lunch dates
and network with as many people as you can. Get up and get dressed
everyday, and find some reason to get out of the house each day. Consider
volunteering somewhere to help pass the time and to keep active. Perhaps
others who have been in your position have additional advice and will
write; I will be happy to print the response I receive.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
Send Sue your questions by clicking here:
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.