My supervisor at work doesn’t talk to us, she quarrels with us every chance she gets, and the boss does nothing.
She positions her chair so that whenever we need to pass we have to move it, and then she starts an argument about us moving her chair.
There are other problems we have with her but it’s too much to write.
How does one treat such a situation especially knowing the boss refuses to do anything about the situation. It has been going on for years now.
She sounds like a very unhappy, or bored person. It sounds as if she is literally looking for an argument. Does she think this is how she demonstrates she is in charge?
Does she have problems in her home life?
Perhaps a little friendship, empathy or sympathy might surprise her and change her behaviour.
Your objective is to find out what the problem is and develop a solution together.
Have you considered re-arranging the office so that you can get past without moving her chair, bypassing that problem at least?
If that doesn’t work, and you are all of the same mind, you have to make a concerted effort to address the situation. But be aware that you could make the situation worse, untenable for yourselves. Everyone must stand together on this.
Please read my writings on conflict management on our sister site. Feel free to enrol on the site, it is free
There is a series of Conflict management modules. To Navigate, click on the title of the next one on the right, either at the top or bottom of the text,
Find the relevant posts by opening any lesson, then type conflict into the search bar
Please also read my notes on feedback on our sister site.
Develop an action plan
Think through the points you need to make, collect facts, gather information and come up with a plan. Remember the need to give feedback carefully and deal sensitively with the situation. Perhaps together you can unearth the problem and work something out.
How you approach her depends on the size of the group involved. If there are only a few of you, you could all approach her. if you are a large group, I suggest a couple of you approach her, tell her you speak for the whole group, and ask her what the problem is. Give her feedback about her attitude and its effect on the group. Make sure you have several examples to illustrate your point.
Try to find a way she and the group together can resolve the problem. Be careful not to back her into a corner, she will become defensive and kick out.
If that fails, you could go back to her manager and say this situation is untenable, he must act. If he doesn’t, maybe you could vote with your feet by all asking to transfer to another department because she is making the work environment impossible.