Working with a person I can't stand. Worth it?

Due to some fantastic advice on here, I've managed to network my way into a pretty rewarding real estate job. We are a small multi-family developer in a tier 2 region. I went to a non target state school.

All in all, I have been very lucky with how it's played out. In 2 years here, I have almost doubled my comp. I work less than 50 hours a week. They have given me good bonuses, and have also given me cool informal stuff (given me NBA tickets, etc). The private owners and CEO have praised me. I do see a future here!

As one may expect, it is very unstructured. It is just a lot different than most other jobs expected on WSO. I've been thrown into situations with zero training, often have to do ridiculously mundane stuff, processes are horribly inefficient, etc.

I have to work with an older person named "Sue." She isn't someone with a financial background at all - they basically worked their way up from the mailroom. Now, they are kind of like an office manager. They control a lot of the random administrative functions, and know the nitty gritty from working in the industry for a lot of years. In all credit to her, she's hardworking, loyal to the company, and is far from the most incompetent person.

But, she's just a big pain in the ass to work with. Somebody who's a complete control freak over little tasks. She has really poor personal relationship skills and business knowledge. For example, yesterday she called me back and made a bunch of passive aggressive remarks on this big form I did. A lot of it directly contradicts stuff she said earlier. I think she's genuinely a bit nuts, and multiple people have quit because of her. have a coworker who has 5 good years of experience, and Sue still micromanages everything she does. Based on the current position I'm in, I have to give Sue progress updates every day.

With that being said, she doesn't really pose a threat to me. I don't report to her, and the higher ups seem to know she's a bit difficult. It's just...I have to take daily feedback from her that's mainly BS, and I have to say "Wow, I never thought of that," or "Thanks so much, my bad, etc."

I feel like the bigger issue is it's a small unstructured company. She pretty much has the final say on all the admin functions, so I feel like I can never have real autonomy from her.

Can anyone relate to this? Leaving is not really an option, because I'm in a small market. At the same time, I have this feeling that I can't continue on like this forever.

Comments (8)

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
May 22, 2020

Yeah I think that's the tradeoff with working for a small real estate firm. You're getting great experience and wearing a lot of hats, but you're also surrounded by a small group of people for a lot of hours and it gets really uncomfortable if you don't like someone. That's just how it goes sometimes, but it sounds like the positives are outweighing the negatives for you right now.

May 22, 2020

"Multiple people have quit because of her" says it all:

  • Management will not fire her. Management knows but chose to let other employees quit.
  • She can make your life miserable and you will not win on the long run. She is a survivor.
  • She will not change her behavior unless youre higher in the hierachy. Probably the reason she still works there is because of relationship skills with management.

From now on it will be like a marriage: accept her for better and for worse OR divorce.

Stay strong, these types can make your life real miserable...

    • 1
Most Helpful
May 22, 2020

I agree with both of the above but will offer a slightly different perspective.. At my old bank I had a VP who was exactly like Sue. I hated working with her, but I had to because she ran our processing and portfolio management teams, handling the aftermath of my groups work product.

The first year or so I despised her. She would have these huge reactions to small hiccups that seemed to give us whiplash.. I eventually worked up to a similar position as you where she wasn't necessarily a threat but I still had to deal with her shit from time to time. My advice - Just accept that is who she is. What are you going to do, change her? Took me a while to accept, but I learned how to just take her snarky remarks and tantrums when projects went sideways. It only really reflected poorly on her anyway. After a while we actually developed a good working relationship because I knew we needed to get done whatever she'd freak out about and she'd be thankful when I helped keep things moving along.

More unsolicited advice - If everything else is on point and you feel fortunate to be where you are, I wouldn't leave, especially if you're early in your career. The grass is always greener and it can be really difficult to keep momentum when changing employers. Having a group that's invested in you early on, giving you an upward trajectory isn't an opportunity everyone gets. Besides this colleague, it sounds like you have an awesome position to be honest

    • 2
May 22, 2020

Great posts above. I work directly under a Sue and am going to play devil's advocate to the opinions listed.

The difference with my Sue seems to be mainly (a) a highly intelligent and detail oriented person from the finance world, (b) excellent at managing up but a completely miserable experience for those on her level or under, (c) highest ranking member of our office in terms of title - no one with firing power sees her daily behavior.

My contrasting view is that I'm leaving for better pay, more responsibility, crappier brand. The firm I'm with is a BB, great pay, good hours, lots of resources, but at the end of the day a company culture with either a tolerance or inability to deal with that kind of behavior is one where you want to pay your dues and then find something better - but that's IF and I emphasize IF she has professional leverage over you that will impact your comp/promotions/future recommendations. The thing with my Sue is that on top of having all this power, she's also quite the gossiper, once one person makes a mistake it's only a matter of time before others know. People may recognize this is unprofessional and unreasonable behavior, but it invariably may help shape their opinions of those she berates and create friction on your path forward for your career.

So that's my advice to you, if this person is just someone who helps management execute admin tasks and run daily operations, and you're proactive about letting your managers know your displeasure and when 'events' like tantrums happen then you've done your CYA and this person is of no consequence to your career. Let Sue be, its only to her detriment not yours as long as you can keep your cool.

    • 1
May 22, 2020

Even though you're 'playing Devil's advocate', I completely agree. You broke this down much better than I did. My colleague didn't have leverage, so it was much easier to tolerate

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
May 22, 2020

There's a "Sue" who is an admin at a BB who also helps run our internal committee. She isn't going anywhere because only junior people need to deal with her, MDs don't see the sheer nonsense that goes on. What are you gonna do, tell on her so she gets fired? The reality is until there's a massive screw up by Sue that's noticed, you either tough it out or leave if you really dislike this person that much.

May 22, 2020

In my last team I worked with a bunch of Sues. Here is what I did.

A) Figure out their quirks. Is there something you do that bothers Sue? Then don't do it. This applies to font sizes, colors, forms, etc.

B) If Sue gives you instructions, repeat them at the end of the conversation to show that you understand. If she contradicts herself later on, TELL HER it is not what you said, and be very firm. Say that I understand, but you told me X, which is why I did Y. To hedge yourself even more, write down the instructions in email and send it to her. Phrase the email as:
"As discussed, I will update the form using today's date. Please respond if I misunderstood."

Now you have the instructions in writing, and you can use that as a shield. If you ever have a 1 on 1 with someone more senior than her, you can bring this up that you are having trouble communicating with Sue. You can ask them how they would recommend to deal with the situation, you can say "you even resorted to emails but Sue would still change her instructions after agreeing to them in the email"

Let me emphasize that you don't want to say the words "I am having trouble working with Sue". Instead, you want to highlight the specific issue Sue has. Saying what the problem is shows maturity as opposed to saying "I can't work with Sue", and if you bring up the different methods you took to try to communicate her, that makes you look much better.

C) Socialize with her, figure out her hobbies, and talk with her. Try to become her friend and pretend you care about her. If she likes film, when walking past her say " Hey, did you see the latest James Bond film? It was amazing." You don't have to be her best buddy or talk with her all the time. But show some interest.

Doing the 3 helped me tremendously get by in my group from hell.


  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 22, 2020