Toxic work environments are difficult, but they are made even worse by a boss or other higher-up who seems untouchable. It might seem like there's nothing you can do about it, but it's still possible to complain — you just need to know how to do it effectively and without jeopardising your job.
Photo remixed from The Muuj.
If you want to complain about a boss online, be aware that complaining about colleagues is a very risky business. If you really need to do lodge a complaint about your boss, here are a few of the best practices.
How Human Resources Wants You To Do It
If you're going to complain about a boss, you need to have a good reason. For better or worse, you can't just complain about your boss because she or he is rude. The human resources people I talked to while researching this post mentioned the word legitimacy a lot — as in, your boss needs to be doing something harmful to you as a person or the company, not just being a jerk.
The main legitimate reasons cited are:
- Illegal activity (whistle blowing)
- Overtime or break violations
Incompetence, you'll notice isn't on the list, and unfortunately, there is no good way to complain about someone's inability to properly do a job. You can, however, offer constructive criticism directly to your boss or someone higher up.
In those instances, it's very important to complain with a solution in mind, which, as we've covered in a similar manner before, is also a good way to get on your bosses good side.
If your boss is being hostile for no good reason, you might also consider talking with someone higher up about the issue. This is especially handy in a retail space, where you're probably not getting paid enough to deal with a bad boss, and the owner might not be on the floor enough to see what's happening. Don't complain immediately after an incident, and make sure it's a repeated issue. Again, word it in a way where you have a solution, not just a complaint, and if it's at all possible, document your complaint.
The HR people I spoke to also suggested getting your core job outline in writing, so you can refer to it if your boss is asking you to do something outside the spectrum of your usual tasks. Use this with caution, though: You don't want to be seen as lazy, but if your boss regularly abuses your good nature and willingness to help out, it's good to make sure your boss is aware of your required duties.
More than anything else, you should talk with your boss first if you're comfortable doing so, especially if your problem is something as simple as not getting a break or proper lunch time. If your complaint involves serious issues like discrimination or illegal activity, you should have proof.
So how do you document those sorts of issues? Here are a few techie options.
Photo by Jake Sutton.
How Technology Can Help You
You need to have proof about your complaint. This isn't as hard as you'd think. You can track these types of things easily, ensuring you'll have any facts you need. When possible, you should not hide your actions, especially when recording conversations, but you still want to be able to click the record button quickly.
Webcam: We've shown you how to turn a webcam into a surveillance system, and while you certainly don't need to go spying on your boss, a webcam is a simple way to record anything from you computer. You'll need to use it at your discretion, but if your boss is doing something you feel needs to be addressed on a larger scale, a webcam recording is an effective means to get your proof.
Audio Recording: Most mobile phones have an audio recorder of some kind, so use it. If you're on a jailbroken iPhone, a tool like CameraButtons can automatically launch you video recording by holding down the volume buttons so you can record without ever taking your phone out of your pocket. Otherwise, turn on the recorder when something is happening and bring that to your HR department or other boss.
If your boss is doing something nasty that doesn't fit into the above-mentioned categories, you can always talk with someone about the issues without complaining. Mention them without hinging the whole complaint on your boss and you won't put your job in jeopardy, but you might make your work experience a little smoother.
How About You?
Have you ever complained about a boss with a positive outcome? Share your suggestions in the comments.
Photo by ThenAndAgain.