"I Was Bamboozled By a Smooth-Talking Boss, and Now I Have a Horrible Job!"
02/20/24 Edition Stephen Says Column

Iam a regional manager at a furniture company. I was recruited by the Executive Vice President of Sales, who is now my boss. I have been in my new job for about six months and nothing about this job is the way it was described to me by my boss when she was recruiting me.

Not the company, or the culture, or the sales revenue projections. Customer service is a disaster and there are some product quality issues.  Nothing but nothing is as it was described. Even people that report to me are not at the experience level I was told, and their morale is low. This company I work for is a well-known and established brand.  It’s a great product with customer facing design but I am shocked at what is "behind the scenes."  My guess is our customers do not have clue as to chaos here or what it is like to work here.  The problems do not appear to have been created by my boss (she has been here 4 years). I think she inherited everything, but I think she must just need to hold on to her job, or maybe she just thrives in this type of chaos. In any case she just lives with the situation and is in denial. It is just not for me.

I now see what happened to me, and others that work here. The interview process seemed endless and was thorough. They were not begging me to take the job, but they were saying all the right things I wanted to hear. My boss, and leadership here, has perfected the art of telling a story about the company that is not the reality to attract candidates. One of the reasons I accepted the position was because I liked what she said to me about the company and about her management style. I swear she painted a picture of a wonderful company culture with a strong revenue stream, lots of freedom to manage the thriving sales team I am responsible for. But here is the kicker; she went out of her way to explain to me “she is not a micro manager” and nothing could be further from the truth.

I hate to change jobs so fast, but I want out. I was bamboozled! I have confronted her, and she is in complete denial of what is happening here and wants me to stay. It is clear to me only now, that no one else has wanted this job I have. I want to quit. I see no future here because I have no power to change anything. My boss thinks she has nowhere else to go so she is trying to make her own job work but that’s not my problem. What should I do?

Bamboozled and Angry
Dear Bam,

Quit! Plain and simple: quit. It’s a candidate’s job market, chances are everyone else already knows about your company’s reputation, shame on you for not doing a better job of researching it yourself. I know what happens during the interview process, you’re somewhat dissatisfied with your current job so you talk yourself into believing what the interviewer is saying about the new company... Then they close the deal by paying you more and you accept the new job. It happens all the time.

Smart leaders are well trained on how to finesse a terrible job. That’s part of what many companies consider to be a manager’s job. Lure people into a job and let’s see if it flies. Very often someone in your place can make a difference and make the company better, I suspect that is what your boss was hoping for. I’ll bet that 4 years ago, when she was interviewing for her own job, she was probably “bamboozled” by senior management or even the owners of the company, and soon found herself trapped in the new job, and she simply must lie to get people like you to come to work there. It happens way more than you think.

Whenever you are interviewing or approached about a job, and it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Every company has its problems and there are very few bad places to work, you just need to find the match. So, for instance some people might see what you think is a terrible job as a great challenge, and they thrive on that - you do not.

More to the point, and this is for everyone to recognize, if you are working for a dishonest person who created a false narrative about her management style, the culture, and the job itself. She was so anxious to get this job filled that she lied, and no one should have to work for a liar. How can you ever trust her? Lying bosses are self-serving, often two faced and desperate to keep their own jobs, making for a toxic work environment. People in our industry know this type of leader, and definitely do not want to work for them. Assuming you have ample financial reserves, quit now and worry about finding a new job afterwards.  Candidates are controlling the market and chances are you will not be unemployed very long.

Take my advice and quit and use your newfound downtime to find the next job.


Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of www.viscusigroup.com, an executive search firm that specializes in the interior furnishings industry. Hires made through The Viscusi Group are guaranteed a one-year free replacement. Please share your story or comment on this article and send your workplace questions to stephen@viscusigroup.com. Or give us a call at 212-979-5700 x 101.

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