Monday, March 6, 2017

Ask CJ: People I Won't Work With

Blooming where planted.
Credit: Derek Lowe
From the inbox, a great question: 
Dear CJ, 
 I've been approached to apply for an interesting position, but it would mean working with a person I have known to regularly engage in bad management techniques such as micromanaging and gaslighting employees who come forward with concerns about the workplace environment. 
The job would mean a new level of prestige and could lead to some very fruitful collaborations, but I'm happy in my current position where I have a very hands-off supervisor and a lot of freedom to pursue projects that interest me personally. 
Should I pursue prestige and (maybe) a little more money? Or should I be content to bloom where I'm planted?  
Cheers, Anon
That's a great question, Anon. I personally think that unless you can extract some sort of promises of no interaction with this unpleasant person (which I suspect you cannot), I wouldn't accept the new position. I suspect that you should bloom where you're planted, or at least bloom where you can bloom (and it doesn't sound like you would thrive in the potential new environment.)

Readers, what do you think? Can you think of a situation where you have moved to a new organization where you knew there would be personality conflicts and managed to avoid problems from the start?


  1. Agree with CJ. I think you shouldn't leave your happy position unless it is for something that you know will be equally healthy unless there's some other overarching reason to do so, like better job security. There are few things worse than having to get up every day and drag yourself to a toxic workplace without anything else on the horizon.

  2. Wow, that wasn't clear, was it?
    Unless: 1) the position is equally healthy and/or 2) there's some very good reason like better job security.

  3. No, no, no, 1000x NO. DO NOT work for someone that has a reputation for being difficult. I've worked with someone like that and the amount of destruction and misery they cause around them is remarkable. The amount of money it would take to make it worth tolerating that person is not close to the amount they will offer you.

  4. Important to consider: bad management is enabled by the layers of management above, if they weren't they would be out within a short time.

  5. In grad school, I had a very hands off type of advisor; it's obviously great if you're very focused and are self-driven.

    In my real life job (first and only out of grad school), I have an extremely picky micromanaging boss AND company CEO who picks over how your hours are spent on each project. I hate it and want to leave the company every day. I'm counting down the days for when my contracted time is complete to where I don't have to pay back my relocation funds and happily leaving this place.

  6. I will echo all the other advice not to move to some place where there is a known incompatible manager, especially as mentioned often reflects on overall culture enabling or ignorance. I have encountered a couple times during my career and categorically state No prestige and financial gains will be worth the mental and emotional distress such people can create. Perhaps can take away awareness of the attractive features and then work within your current organization and/or with supervisor to achieve them there or seek a place that can accomplish without a known impediment (although such people are fairly common there if move must determine if there are hidden dangers where have two-faced people in charge with no one willing to provide accurate picture of environment)

  7. Don't do it.
    Life is far too short to work with people that you can't stand. (and remember, you'll probably be seeing more of them than your friends or significant other.)


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20