Why Sometimes You Just Have to Cut Your Losses

by Erica Cosminsky on September 8, 2011

In addition to coaching business owners and bosses on how to better manage the people that work for them, I also Balloon Tri-Colourcoach people who are having issues with their bosses.

This is a conversation from a recent call used with permission (name removed.)

Her: My boss fired me because a project was late while we were without power.

Me: So he was totally unsympathetic that there was a hurricane and you were without power for 4 days? (Referring to Hurricane Irene.)

Her: Yes. He didn’t seem to understand that it wasn’t just my house and I couldn’t just go to a coffee shop or something. Everyone was without power. Eventually my phone died so he just started screaming at my voicemail.

Me: And you said this project wasn’t urgent or for a client? Why was he so insistent?

Her: Actually it was something he’d only decided to do a few days before. It didn’t seem to be a priority at all until he couldn’t reach me.

Me: Ok. In your email you said you wanted to try to get your job back, right?

Her: Well.. yes I guess.

Me: Are you sure you want to work for someone like that? I think you already know it’s time to look for another job.

Her: (Sigh.)  It’s just a relief to hear someone else agree with me. I feel so guilty about the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve ever apologized so much.

Me: I don’t think you’re responsible for a hurricane.

There are so many directions I could go to say how wrong this situation is. As our conversation continued, I could see she was almost abused in this business relationship because he blamed her for everything that went wrong. So she felt stuck between needing the job/money, feeling guilty and trying to fix things, and wanting to run for the hills.

I’ve tried a number of times to describe what dehumanizing employees and contractors is and this, my friends, is just that.  

Fortunately we made a game plan and she is well on her way to finding another job or taking on freelance clients. We discussed warning signs of bad bosses and clients to work with and what her ideal client would actually be. Similar to abusive dating relationships, it’s very easy to slide back into the pattern. So she and I will be both be carefully watching out because she doesn’t deserve to feel guilty enough to cry from relief again.

As for her former boss, I see several probably things happening. Because he won’t have anyone to blame and with his attitude he’ll have trouble finding a new assistant and within a few weeks I’m willing to bet he will call to be all smiles and sunshines begging her to come back.  After she turns him down, he’ll either go through a dozen assistants in the next year or unfortunately he’ll find someone else who will stay out of guilt.

What tips do you have for my client coming out of this nasty job relationship?

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Erica Cosminsky

Erica is an HR Business Strategist who works specifically with small businesses on delegation, team building, employee/contractor legal compliance, daily management and systems . The Invisible Office project evolved from her team management skills and the desire to help others love their teams. She is a former corporate HR Manager, and ran her own virtual business team for 4 years. She has a BS in Organizational Leadership focused in HR. If you have a question about your team or need for help, contact her now.

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  • Nice advice and a good topic Erica.  There’s lots of fear based on jobs, and sometimes doing something in an abusive environment feels safe.  This person obviously will be better off working for someone that won’t get yelled and screamed at.

    “I don’t think your responsible for a hurricane” is my favorite sentence! 

    I worked for a guy for under a year that was a real tyrant.  I had no idea how stressful that job was until I wasn’t there any longer!

    • Jason, 
      Thanks for sharing your story too. It’s shocking to me how some people get into a power high or just don’t even realize how badly they treat others. 

      I’m so glad you’ve found a “better place” now. 🙂

  • FEEuser

    I recommend the book, “How to Work for an Idiot: Survive and Thrive…Without Killing Your Boss,” by John Hoover.

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