Miserable and feeling trapped

Discussion in 'Self Improvement and Being Successful' started by AmazonUSA, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. AmazonUSA

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    Aug 2, 2008
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    I come to you with a problem that has been causing me much stress and misery in the past year.

    I accepted a position with a firm's German subsidiary in June of 2007. Mind you, I had just graduated with an MBA at age 43 and felt I could take on the world. The move was exciting but also a bit frightening. I was born in Germany but had not lived there since my early 20's. My position as financial controller (so I was told) would be a complement to the existing person in place there.

    A little background to my current place of employment: this firm was originally a German company which was bought out by a US firm. Subsequently a number of the older employees were let go as a cost saving measure. Obviously not all people at this subsidiary bore good will toward Americans.

    The person already in place there had been with the original German firm for almost 30 years. Prior to the Americans taking over she was the head of the finance department with 4 direct reports. Now, she was "just" a financial controller with no reports. Upon my arrival she immediately took it upon herself to asert her "boss-status" and continues to this day to make my work days miserable. She will interrupt my phone and in-person conversations, tell me what I can and cannot do, how to do my job, takes it upon herself to make decisions in areas of my responsibility and oft even overturning mine when I am not there.

    I have discussed this with her, my immediate supersivor and HR. My supervisor seems sympathic and promises to make changes and intervene. Sure enough, things seem to get better for a day or two and then back to the status quo. Any discussion of this problem, directly or indirectly, most often results in my co-worker not speaking to me for days. I am simply relegated to being just her "assistant".

    Were I in the US I would've have found another job already, as I just cannot get anywhere with the channels available at work. Anything I say to HR is immediately told to the plant manager who then proceeds to make masked ridiculing remarks about my problem right in front of me! To make matters worse, my immediate supervisor has unexpectedly left the company just a few days ago and now I am faced with a new supervisor whom is underqualified and unapproachable.

    The problem is, when I signed my contract I agreed that I would repay my relocation expenses if I left within 3 years. I don't have that sort of cash and feel trapped. To make matters worse I don't really know a lot of people here and although I talk with my friends back in the US, my support system here consists of myself and my 16-year-old son. This has led me to drinking more than I should to cope with these feelings of being trapped and helpless. I don't know what to do!

    Any advice is much appreciated.
  2. Fergal

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    Nov 18, 2007
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    You already know this, but drinking too much will not do anything to help resolve your current problems and it will give you new problems on top of the problems you already have. I'm sure it's not the same for everybody, but if I drink too much on a night I generally feel irritable the next day. Feeling irritable is probably just about the worst emotional state you could bring to work, right now.

    I can understand the concern you have about potentially having to pay your relocation expenses if you break your contract within 3 years. You might wish to consider the following;
    1. It seems to me that you have 2 years left in contract, can you put a brave face on it and slog it out. I know that this is not an attractive option but perhaps it is worth considering and perhaps you can build an interesting life in Germany, outside work.
    2. You might consider making the argument that your employer has broken the contract you have with them, because the job is not what they said it would be. If you can show that it was your employer who broke the contract you should not have to pay the relocation expenses. You should probably get some professional legal advice on this issue.
    3. Another option, if you feel that you've had enough and that if you stay in the current situation the cost financially and emotionally could be much greater than the relocation expenses. If this is the case it might be worth paying the expense and getting out of there. But I would definitely negotiate hard with the employer before offering to pay the expenses. Again you should probably get professional legal advice.
    Regardless of what you decide to do, I would definitely recommend that you get some legal advice.

    Do you have a superior in the US division of the company that you can talk with and discuss your predicament with?

    Have you asked your colleague does she think it is appropriate and professional to interrupt phone calls? Maybe you can have an open and honest chat with this colleague that could get some issues on the table and help smooth things over.

    Are there any US army bases near you where you could meet people from home? - Just a suggestion.

    Don't forget that you have an MBA which is an extremely useful and much sought after qualification. It might be difficult to see them right now but you have lots of opportunities.

    Try this 5 minute exercise, you might be surprised at how useful it can be. Get a pen and paper and set an alarm to go off in 5 minutes. Spend that 5 minutes writing as much as possible about your situation and how you are going to resolve it.

    I sympathise with your situation. Having worked abroad for sometime myself, I know that it can be very lonely and stressful. Keep the chin up (much easier said than done, I know) and please post back to let us know how it works out for you.

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