The question How to approach a boss who doesn't take full responsibility for his mistake? was recently closed because "advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions". How does this fit that criteria? The OP is not asking whether they should keep the job or nor, they are asking how to approach their boss about a miscommunication relating to a job acceptance deadline. I think that's perfectly on topic, and I've voted to reopen. Is there something I'm missing?
You saw a question that I didn't. It just seemed like a rant, with a "what should I do" Any question that includes in it's title something about getting someone else to do something is likely to be closed.
I only just came across this, and I wouldn't have VtC or downvote, but here are my reactions to the question, it seriously needs improvement, it wastes a lot of time trying to identify what, if anything, specifically is being asked:
- I see a very vague title "How to approach a boss who doesn't take full responsibility for his mistake?", no statement on the first line of any specific question, two paragraphs, and still no statement of any specific question. After digging into this for 15+ minutes so far, my best guess is "Missed my contract renewal deadline due to boss misstating it in email, how to respond?"
- The title is brutal. It sounds vague, ontological(what is "full responsibility"? Do any of us, ever...?), unrealistic, aimless. What is the actionable issue right now: are you looking for how to get the contract renewed, manage the relationship, a full and frank appraisal of his personality, or tips on how to manage this sort of email communication better in future, or is this a legal question in disguise ("What happens to a person on a fixed-term contract in Jurisdiction expiring on Date if the renewal deadline is misstated to them? Can they legally hire my replacement?") Presumably you're looking for all of the above, but you need to prioritize for us: Which single most important change do you want to achieve, and by when?
- When you say there's a "deadline", is that what your contract actually says, or is that the date they request you respond for their internal decision-making/hiring process? In the current scheme of things, if you don't renew, when do they actually stop paying you? This Friday, or in 3 months' time, or what?
- Advertising/interviewing for your replacement is one thing, but laying you off/ending your contract is a different thing.
- Say you did miss fall semester, can you come back in winter semester? Would you want to? Is there any continuity issue?
- If it's a legal question then every significant detail is missing: what country and state are you in, do you have a contract, what does it say about renewals, deadlines, acceptances, is this deadline the same for other depts, did you ask around how do these guys generally handle late renewals, does your boss mess up like this before, if so what happened, and so on.
- "I was trying to keep my options open and reply to him a week or two before the deadline, but obviously this is an issue now. How should I bring this up to my boss?" Well, sorry, your time's up. So was your decision to renew, or leave? Or are you still unsure and trying to buy extra time to interview/negotiate compensation? Or are you asking us to tell you what to decide? Either way, your time's up and you have to make a decision, presumably now.
- EDIT: I mean, you could tell them you're renewing, while still interviewing and planning to leave. If that's what you want to do, and any possible repercussions, it's on you.
- What does "apparently" mean in "apparently the email in question contained an error on the deadline"? Either there was an error, or there wasn't, or you don't know and you're relying on (your coworker's?) opinion? Who, other than your boss, can confirm basic important things like that? His boss, HR, or who? There must be somebody else.
- You just casually toss in "Although I would prefer electronic contact, the boss seems to like to keep his employees 'on edge' and doesn't always answer emails he reads." Assuming you brought that up because if causes you grief and you want solutions, it's up to you to learn some effective techniques to deal with people like that (whether they're shy, flaky, or actively dishonest). Like, send a brief dated memo to the guy summarizing your discussion (or else your understanding), for important things. If his personality really annoys you that much ongoing, then quit, already. You can't change it; at most you might be able to privately give him constructive suggestions after all this mess is sorted out; I doubt that'll have much effect. (Or maybe he's under some budgetary pressures you don't know about. But still.)
- There are some well-known techniques for dealing with flaky, uncommunicative or dysfunctional people: calendar a 1-on-1 meeting. Say, every month or two. Even for 15 minutes. Also, in emails, state a default course of action: "I plan to to do X unless I hear otherwise from you by Date". If this is an assertiveness issue, there are some good courses, audiobooks etc. Perhaps you might find them beneficial.
- You also threw in this "Apparently(?) email in question contained an error; deadline ... supposed to be two weeks ago. I do not know the details of the discussion between coworker and boss, but it was a heated debate... I don't think it's a good idea to mention how I found out about the error" Then don't. Just say/write "Boss, I understand my contract renewal date was actually X, but I did not get notified of that timely/until Date/now. I'd urgently like to discuss my renewal with you, by Date."
- I'm seeing lots of signals that weird me out, like your boss's communications suck, he missed the deadline by a lot, you only accidentally found out because your coworker talked to him, he never even notified you after he realized, the "heated discussion" sounds like he blamed coworker, you're not supposed to know about that conversation with coworker, so effectively he's still never communicated with you about the renewal, or maybe he doesn't want to renew you, your job satisfaction sucks ("I don't think I will get fired because I'm relatively difficult to replace"), and even given all of this, you still can't make your mind up. What % of your boss's written or verbal communications are not dysfunctional? This is really a dysfunctional setup. Were you looking for advice on that or not? We honestly can't tell. These are the sorts of things that would make many conclude this is a rant, not a specific actionable question, or list of questions. Are you as frustrated as most of us would be? Because managing to belatedly fix this contract renewal isn't going to fix the ton of other things that you complain about. What is the case for quitting? You haven't articulated one positive reason you want to stay there.
Well that's my reaction to you. Was it useful?