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When There is Writing on the Wall, Part I

Updated on December 25, 2012

Tsk, Tsk, Something Wicked Comes This Way!

You were once the star performer at work. You were quite invincible or so you think. Your supervisor adored you, often giving you the choicest assignments. You received accolades and were on the fast track to success. Suddenly, your former supervisor has either gotten a promotion either upward or to entirely different company. Or else, he/she decided to retire. Your former supervisor adored you and wished you well on your future endeavors.

Now you have a new supervisor. This supervisor decides to implement a new plan. He/she details the plan and you follow it to the most minute specifications. However, even though you follow the details to its absolute minutiae, this new supervisor always finds something WRONG with your presentation. You are totally left amiss regarding this. According to this new supervisor, you have missed such and such details although you contend that you have followed instructions to a "T" in addition to dotting your "I"s. Well, this supervisor is not content with your work and he/she is now scrutinizing your work, thus decreasing your production.

You figure that you were an outstanding worker before. "So what is the problem?", you think to yourself. In fact, in your career, your work performance has always been stellar and at least, highly effective! Now you are receiving "needs improvement" in your evaluation. " What gives?", you ask yourself.

You are slowly discovering that your new supervisor really does NOT LIKE you at all. You are actually viewed as a threat to this new supervisor. According to some reliable sources, this supervisor and the precedent had some type of animosity towards each other. This new supervisor clearly was not fond of the preceding supervisor and knowing that you were that supervisor's favorite, that animus is now extended to YOU!

You suddenly have fallen from grace. You went from being a prominent star employee slated for the fast track to success to being a total persona non grata. Clearly, this supervisor detests you. He/she is overly micromanaging your work. In addition to that, you are now receiving the most detestable and odious assignments possible. If not, you are given assignments which the supervisor knows that you possibly cannot finish within a certain time period. Now all your choice assignments are given to an employee who was a close associate and personal friend of the supervisor.

You are a deep quandary. "What should I do now?", you exasperately declare. Now it is the time to follow that supervisor's work instructions to the letter. In order to being extreme meticulous in your work habits, you must apply the same scrupulousness to your time and attendance if it is somewhat less than perfect. Maybe, your past stellar performance with the precedent supervisor allowed you some leeway regarding being on time for work, lunch hours, and taking days off. Well, the party is proverbially over! No more free lunches so to speak! Now you have to be on your ps and qs regarding time and attendance issues as YOU are now under WATCH!

You are now being written up for quite insignificant offenses. Once you were in the ingroup and inner circle with the precedent supervisor. Now, you are in the OUTER LIMITS so to speak. You are actually in a Catch-22 situation with this supervisor. No matter what you do, this supervisor finds something to critique and scrutinize you for.

Everything from your demeanor to wrting type is under total observation. Each time you submit something to this supervisor, he/she consistently inform you that your reports are totally inadequate even though you did meticulous research and investigation on the topics in addition to having an impeccable writing style. Well, the supervisor purport that your writing style is too erudite, adding maybe you should tailor your writing style appeal to a kindergarten level audience. Now, you are at the anger stage!

Suddenly you are questioning your self. In the past, you felt quite invincible and on top of the world. Now, you feel like total %^&@! You discuss the issue with your family and friends. One of them suggest that "maybe" it is you. You give them an icy glare, mumbling that you know that YOU are NOT at fault here, it is that $%^&*#@! supervisor, not you at all!

Now, you want to get revenge on him/her. Caution a millinillion times: this is surefire way to career suicide and/or eventual career oblivion. There was one instance on a job which a person who fits the exact description above had a new supervisor who delighted in micromanaging her. Her work was stellar in the past; however, the new supervisor now overscrutinized her work. This employee was tired of it and she decided to send an objectionable magazine to the supervisor's work place address in order to put the supervisor in a bad light; however, the employee was brought up on disciplinary charges and her career was seriously derailed so to speak. So, do not entertain acts of revenge, not even a thought! Remember, a supervisor has the power to either enhance, derail and/or ruin an employee's career!

Now you ask what should you do. Well, be superscrupulous regarding work performance, time, and attendance issues. If necessary, discuss with the supervisor as to how he/she wants the project, report, and/or investigation should be done. Once he/she gives the detailed instructions, document the instructions and follow them to the smallest minutiae. Follow these instructions and demonstrate to the supervisor that you can effectively follow instructions and implement his/her plan.

Also document everything this supervisor says just in case, he/she critiques you, stating that you were not strictly adhering to his/her instructions. In other words, be so ever vigilant because you are NOW being scrutinized. This supervisor is doing this probably he/she has a hidden agenda to get even with the precedent supervisor and/or is perhaps jealous of your prior stellar work performance under the former supervisor. This supervisor wants to reduce your stellar work history and/or intends to "set you up for failure" so he/she has a further hidden agenda to either transfer you to another unit, give you constructive discharge(make your work environment so toxic and onerous that you have no other choice but to resign), and/or produce a paper trial to eventually terminate you! Clearly, this supervisor does not LIKE you and will resort to any means necessary to lessen your presence so to speak.

Well, if you possibly can, do not give this supervisor ammunition to ruin your work record. According to Dante's Divine Comedy, one must often descend to the depths of hell in order to reach the ultimate of heavens. To paraphrase, many of us must often endure a less than perfect supervisor in order to accomplish our work goals. To make your work life a bit easier, do EXACTLY what your supervisor says and be ever scrupulous regarding your work habits. If you are as near perfect as possible, probably the supervisor will take notice and not hassle you as much. However, if the supervisor continues to make your life infernal even though you are following his/her instructions and rules, maybe it is time to move on........either to another unit or department and/or to a different job entirely.

In summation, you were once a stellar worker and a star performer. Now, a new supervisor arrives and you are no longer the star employee. Your work is now being micromanaged and you are now placed under scrutiny. Your new supervisor is clearly not pleased with your work performance. You have, in essence, fallen from grace and are now a persona non grata according to the new supervisor.

You now sense that something wicked has come this way. You are totally nonplussed as to what to do NOW! You must become more meticulous and scrupulous than ever in your work habits in order for your new supervisor not to hassle you. You must further document any instructions he/she gives you just in case, he/she decide to play games thus blaming you for any perceived mistakes. Even though, you try to please your new supervisor, he/she continues to overscrutinize you, making your work environment totally hellish. In other words, there is writing on the wall, informing YOU that you should extricate yourself from this work environment either be transfer, resignation, and just going to a different company. Sometimes you may be in the wrong corporate environment and for the sake of your mental health and self esteem, you have to move into a more positive work environment in order to fully thrive.

© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams


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    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      That is in the latter stages if the employee elects to go his/her way instead of following the instructions of the new supervisor. Thank you again for your input and always feel free to stop by!

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      6 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      Sounds like a trip to a Human Resources Department is in order.

    • Steele Fields profile image

      susan beck 

      6 years ago from drexel hill,pa

      This hub really nailed it for me- I was in a situation exactly like the one you are describing and I turned the situation around by doing exactly what you suggest here: by asking the supervisor for advice and following it to the "t" When I began framing everything I wanted to do as "her" way instead of trying to impress her with doing things "my" way, she stopped seeing me as a threat and started seeing herself as my mentor (not my TOR-mentor!) We actually became friends and now that she knows I value her ideas and am trying to emulate her ways, I am finally able to be myself again and do my own thing as well. Bottom line: People in middle management are afraid of those under them who show potential because they constitute a threat. My advice: Make friends with the enemy until there is no enemy. Then you will be free to shine.

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To EmVeeT: Thank you for your comments. I totally concur with you. Oftentimes, a stellar performer must readjust his/her priorites under a new supervisor. Thank you for your input and for adding to the discussion.

    • EmVeeT profile image


      6 years ago

      I would like to add to the first comment, not by critiquing your writing, as such, but by mentioning that the writing on the wall can sometimes be a chance to wake up and smell the coffee (excuse the euphemism). Thing is, when the person in question got along with the supervisor, there must have been other individuals in the office/company that felt the blunt force trauma of never satisfying that team leader.

      The truth is, this piece reminds me of a circumstance some children experience in school, when the teacher has a pet. I was never the 'teacher's pet' and I often felt the way you are describing the 'once stellar performer' who finds him/herself in a less comfortable situation, never good enough, always falling shy. When I was young I thought the circumstance torture, but as an adult I see that being less than perfect to another person causes us to grow. We can take the attitude that the individual whose favor we cannot acquire 'doesn't like us' therefore, we shouldn't expect them to ever like anything we do, or we can make up our mind to rise up to the challenge, to do our very best, not expecting to be patted on the back or celebrated as 'the stellar performer'. You can still do your best and feel good about that. No one should live so as to always be 'acknowledged as special'. We can still be special. Sometimes others will notice, but even if no one does, that should not change our desire to achieve excellence. Excellence always speaks for itself. Just my view.

      I appreciate your piece. Thanks for addressing the subject. Good job!


    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      You diligently attempt to address a universal conflict between corporate employee and new supervisor.

      I humbly and empathetically offer the following constructive critique not to offend you but to hopefully encourage you to reach even higher in your writing.

      As a reader, I would have felt more "drawn in" to your point had you written in the first person. The repeated he/she references are distracting.

      Proofreading is an absolute must. Case in point: Paragraph 6. The absence of the word "in" just before quandary makes a polar difference in what you were trying to convey. You can then delete "it" in the following sentence to make it clearer. In the very next sentence, I think you meant to say, " be extremely meticulous..."

      I'm not sure if you do this already, but what really helps facilitate both the proofreading and the grammatical corrections simultaneously is to read aloud what you have written. If it flows smoothly in your ears, it will flow smoothly in your audience's reading.

      You have much to offer the Hub community. Your gift is in recognizing universal situations that all of us encounter at some point in our lives. Now, the challenge for you is to keep fine-tuning your presentation of those brilliant ideas.

      Thank you for writing, and thank you even more for staying open to my constructive intent.



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