groovy-flowersAustin, a college student in a far away land studying Business in an internet caf run by the owner.There is no HR department at thecaf where he tolerates the inappropriate behavior of his boss and he did not know who to turn to for advice. He found me via a friend of a friend on Facebook, friended me and sent me this message:

"I have a question I want to ask. Should one keep on working with his or her employer who has a bad temper, always blaming you for what he or she knows is not your making? I hope I will not work under anybody in future, is my great prayers. I wish you all the best."

I contemplated Austin's situation over my morning double shot latte.He needs his job and it's not easy for a college student to find one that fits with class schedules, not to mention it's just not easy to find a job. He comes from a country with extremely high unemployment and poverty rates. He really can't just quit. I found Austin online and struck up a chat.

I found out that Austin's a guy who respects people in positions of authority. He felt he didn't have the right to say anything to his boss about his unhappiness. The approach I took to coach Austin on how he could make a positive impact on his working relationship with his boss was to show him how he could take control of their communication.

What Austin didn't realize is that he has powers.

Dear Austin,

Your situation isn't uncommon.I would not advise that you continue to support the situation but then I wouldn't just quit either considering that you can't afford a lapse in income. I wouldask to have a conversation with theboss.

It's always helpful to use "I" statements andnot make accusations. You could say something like, "Sometimes I feel blamed for things that are not under my controland are not going well". Never be accusatory and say, "You are blaming me for something I didn't do". That would most likely cause your boss to become very defensive.

This conversation should take place in private with no one else around. You could start by letting the boss know you enjoy working and always strive to do the best you can. Let him know that motivation and a positive work environment is very important and helpful to you.

Ask how you can help your boss maintain a positive environment. See how he responds. Try togain hisviewon what's not going well during this conversation when he's calm and it's not in the heat of the moment when he's aggravated. Put his hat on and try to think from a business owner's perspective if there is something you could be doing differently tobetter meet his expectations. Listen to what he says and try to come to an understanding.

End the conversation by thanking him for his time and letting him know you will continue to do your best. Tell him you look forward to more open conversations to discusshow things are going and that you're always open to constructive feedback about how you are performing your job.Show him he can depend on you and give it time to see if things improve.

If these episodes continue and it doesn't work out to your satisfaction start to look for another job. No one should have to work feeling belittled or berated and under appreciated. Take this experience as a lesson on how not to treat employees and remember it when you reach your dream of owning your own business.

What advice would you give Austin?


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