Q: My manager, "Cheryl," chews out employees on a regular basis, blames the staff for her mistakes and takes credit for others' accomplishments. She disagrees with everything I say and rejects any idea that I propose. I believe the only reason I'm still employed is that my results make her look good.
All the executives above Cheryl have a similar leadership style, so they aren't any help. The real surprise is that this is a nonprofit religious organization. It's hard to believe that a church group would tolerate such an evil manager. I plan to quit as soon as I find another position, but that hasn't been easy. Do you have any advice?
A: Sadly, history has clearly demonstrated that having a religious affiliation does not necessarily make one a good person. Although spiritual leaders might logically be expected to become inspirational managers, that is not always the case. So Cheryl is not an anomaly.
Based on your description, however, this problem seems to extend well beyond your nasty boss. If everyone in management shares these traits, the higher-ups may be trying to replicate themselves by promoting people with similar personalities. In that case, you are probably working in a toxic organization.
Since this poisonous culture is unlikely to change, your best hope is to accelerate the search for a more normal place to work. In the meantime, reduce your stress by disengaging emotionally. Focus on your tasks, avoid arguing with your boss, and don't bother making suggestions that will inevitably be rejected. Remember that as soon as you exit this sick little world, nothing these people do will matter in the least.
Q: Although I was initially excited about my first job, I am now concerned that it may hurt my professional future. After finishing college, I joined a major corporation and was placed in a three-year rotational program for new graduates. Every year, we work in a different functional area.
My first assignment was in marketing, and I feel sure that I want to make this my career. However, I am still expected to spend two years in other departments. By the time I can return to marketing, I will have fallen behind my peers and may only be qualified for an entry-level job. What do you think I should do?
A: The odds are good that you aren't the first person to face this dilemma, so you should have a talk with the person who runs the rotational program. If you feel certain that marketing is your destiny, the program may have a way to accommodate your needs, such as allowing you to apply for marketing positions as they become available.
But if you are locked into the rotation and wish to remain with this company, don't despair. Experience in multiple departments will enable you to view the organization from different perspectives and understand the bigger picture. From management's point of view, that might very well make you a more well-rounded applicant.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."