An Unappeasable Boss

An Unappeasable Boss.

Henry was in severe depression when he turned up, accompanied by his wife, who had forced him to seek counselling, as his depressive state worsened over the months. Well qualified as an events manager in the hotel and catering industry, he had applied for his dream job, with a substantial promotion and a huge increment in his pay package. He was made the divisional manager overseeing events management for a medium-sized company. It was a year into his marriage when he took on this promising appointment, but it began to unravel within a month of his commencing his new job.

Henry soon realised that his direct report was not just his immediate boss, the Managing Director, but also the boss’ family members who held other appointments in the company. Quite apart from his role and responsibilities, he was expected to take instructions from these family members, unrelated to his events’ oversight role. When he began drawing his boundaries regarding his specific job description, his boss began to disparage Henry’s personality and criticised his performance before his juniors and other employees. He began dreading management meetings, as he would invariably, at some point, be the object of disapproving comments, questioning his competencies and character. Henry gave the last bit of his energies in attempting to please his boss, but nothing he did seemed to satisfy his boss, despite his achievements and numerous accolades from his clients. Within the space of four months, these attacks began to take its toll, as he began to loose confidence in himself, questioning his own ability to lead and perform. His indecisive decision-making processes were becoming an embarrassment as he led his team. Sleepless nights crept up on him and not too soon, Henry began to dread getting up for work. Empathising colleagues drew alongside and warned him about his deteriorating condition, but Henry could not let go having to prove to himself and to his boss that he could handle the demands of this job. He hung in there for another three months.

One day, after a rather disheartening management session, where he was maligned before everyone by his boss and the latter’s wife, without being given an opportunity to clarify, he sat in his office and began to tear. Afraid that his subordinates would see him, he crept behind his desk and sat on the floor and wept. A fellow divisional manager dropped by, and took him out of the office for a coffee. He told Henry that he was the seventh person to have taken this job in the last 4 years, where most of his predecessors served less than a year in that position. All of them had since left the company. When the job was opened internally for any present staff to apply, nobody did. Everybody knew that it was an impossible job! It was then that Henry realised that perhaps he was not the problem. But his tenacious character would not allow him to admit to himself that it may be time to move on. It took another month of counselling, and with his wife’s desperate persuasion to save her husband’s sanity, Henry finally submitted his resignation. Two months’ later, his medication was reduced to a maintenance dose.