Q: After being out of work for two years, I finally landed a job in a family-run consulting firm. The problem is, the family members all scream and fight with each other, and they treat their workers the same way. One of the family members, who I don’t even report to, recently gave me a project to do. When I asked another co-worker a question about the software I was using, the family member came over and yelled at me, belittling me to the lowest point. As a result, I spent the rest of the morning crying. I have never before experienced this type of working atmosphere, where there’s no respect shown for others. Short of quitting, how does on handle this situation?
A: I’m sorry your work situation has turned out to be so difficult, especially after a two-year job search. Nobody should have to tolerate such rude behavior at the workplace. Unfortunately, quitting may be your best option but before you up and leave, I suggest you consider talking to the owners. Just remember that it’s their show, and they may totally disagree with you or even resent your critique of their behavior. The only trump card the employees have is solidarity. Here’s what I would do: First, ask around to see if other employees are treated as badly as you are, and would be willing to join you in speaking with the owners. There’s strength in numbers. If the problem affects you alone, it will be harder to approach the family but you can still try. Ask for a meeting, then clearly and calmly explain your frustrations and ask if the owners are willing to work with the staff to make the workplace a more positive, pleasant environment. If they agree to try to improve the company culture, great. If not, you may want to start looking for a new job. Job seekers take note: A job search is a two-way street. As the company interviews you, you also need to interview the company. If possible, talk to some employees to get a sense of the work environment. Find out if people enjoy working there, and if they feel they’re treated well. Then you can make an informed decision.