Careers

Bad Boss - how to deal?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 19th, 2018 7:03 pm
Tags:
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 4, 2010
1715 posts
354 upvotes

Bad Boss - how to deal?

I've been in my new position for less than a year now and I'm bumping heads with my manager. I haven't had much of a go at finding a manager that seems well rounded, competent and doesn't have a huge ego. Am I the only one?

He is a combination control freak who always has to be right and abrasive micromanager with authority problems - all which varies depending on his mood. So for instance, one week he's totally cool, relaxed letting me do my thing...the next week he's on my ass reading all my emails and commenting in real time on anything he disagrees with (ie. 'the way you wrote that can be perceived like x and y', 'why did you say that?' 'what does that mean?', or providing unneeded direction and actions to take etc.). It really seems to depend on mood. I have to cc him on all emails, all my colleagues do. So we're all working and he's at his desk reading the emails in real time.

I haven't necessarily reacted well to this, as in getting defensive and jumpy, which I realize didn't help improve anything, I know it's put him off. It's also made me fearful and paranoid in general. There's a whole 'blame' vibe in the office and there isn't much hesitation in having what should be personal conversations take place in the office in front of colleagues. I've also distanced myself from him - whereas before we had rapport. I don't know what to make of these 'mood swings'. I find it really uncomfortable and has made me lose respect for him.

The problem is...I do my job, I'm on top of everything and I REALLY hate someone standing over my shoulder questioning to me what feels like my competency....there's no basis for it that I can find. I take pride in doing a good job and this has hurt my morale. I've since realized after observing my colleagues that the best way is to just stay clam nod and smile and say 'okay' despite unfounded claims and orders for work that's already been completed. I don't know that it even has anything to do with me at all.

Initially I thought that perhaps I was doing something to bring this on but I've since witnessed the same behaviour being done with my colleagues. It comes and goes in phases, with a new individual chosen each week/month. I spoke with them and they all confirmed receiving the same treatment at one point or another. There's this underlying lack of trust, even though there doesn't seem to be any basis for it. Projects get completed, clients are pleased with the work, figures are up etc. Its very inconsistent so you're off your game not knowing when the behaviour will come back to you.

He does NOT like to have his ideas questioned or discussed in detail, they're more orders that come fast and quick and have to be followed - I learned this the hard way. I have a tendency to think two steps ahead at how a decision may impact other processes etc. especially considering that I'm the one doing the work, in the weeds and am not asked my opinion at all. After getting spazzed at/embarrassed in front of my colleagues I've quickly learned this isn't the way to go.

I think he's just super insecure at his core and associates control and obedience as being a good manager. I notice his breathing speeds up and he gets super excitable, jumpy and starts barking off orders when any issues arise - without stopping to ask any questions or inquire what actually took place.

My fear now is that having bumped heads, gotten defensive etc. that his opinion of me is locked down and he is only viewing me through that lens. I don't know if I can change this.

Any ideas? Anybody experienced the same thing? Is the only answer to move on?
No Longer the Resident Permatemp
29 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 2, 2008
1294 posts
52 upvotes
suck it up and wait for his promotion. That type of people moves pretty fast through a$$ licking and k0k sucking.
Member
User avatar
Dec 28, 2010
389 posts
125 upvotes
I think he might see you as competition. I would let him have it. I have a chef (he's in another department than mine) and he does exactly the same thing as you describe. And instead of being annoyed by his behaviour I let him have it, if he critizes me I say "well that is a good way of looking at it, thanks for the feedback!" and those kind of things. I think that if you show you are annoyed by his behaviour it will get worse (he sees he has influence on you), but as soon as you let his behaviour wash away your life will be easier. And this is not easy, people like that are pesky mosquitoes, so to make it work you need to prepare with a standard sentence as 'okay thanks for the feedback!'. And then you can turn around and walk away. You know you did your job right and he feels he did his. Water under the bridge. Don't let it get to you, otherwise you'll have co workers or bosses like this the rest of your life.
Actions speak louder than words
Member
Jul 1, 2017
215 posts
119 upvotes
I was in a similar situtation - except, I wasn't the target.

My previous boss couldn't handle an incompetent employee; the guy would gossip behind her back, put her down in general, be abrasive on 'orders', and ignore any constructive feedback. During her termination, I read her performance management letters that I had access to based on my role. The girl commented on pretty much everything you spoke about; the girl distanced herself and worked/tried to have work assigned to her by her boss' boss directly. The entire approach my boss used to handle her was deplorable and it effected everyone else on the team. Myself and another manager were always left in the cross-hairs wondering "how do we comment". The girl ended up becoming over-protective of her work and it created a very toxic environment - I even made a thread about her last year and how to deal with it. I ended up just ignoring her, which, in contrast was only making the situation worse because it further distanced her from the company. It wasn't fair - but, her toxic demeanor was a direct result of our boss.

Needlessly to say - she was fired. Even after her departure, the boss would still bring up screw-ups the girl made and how "nobody else seems to make these" or "why was she doing this?"; both myself and the other manager would comment about "it's in the past" or "let it go"; it was seriously ****ed-up.

My advice to you - leave "if" you are absolutely correct that others are being treated the same way. I say this because you can't go to war with your boss and expect to win. The company will always side with the boss 'first' unless you have a lot of evidence - which, most people don't. Now, you indicate others are experiencing similar treatment? I'd bring this up directly with HR and your boss' boss. It's easy to replace a single employee; two or more is a team issue and 75% of your boss' job (regardless of technical scope) is people management. If you can get your team to bring this up with HR - you might have a chance to have him terminated.

I know I'm giving two outcomes: you leave, or your boss leaves. Understand that some managers are just terrible and cannot be corrected. In this case, he shouldn't be a manager.

Now, I'll also note on my exit interview with my previous employer, I brought up the uncomfortable (toxic) environment and deplorable approach my previous boss used to handle that particular employee. His boss' response? "I wish he handled it better, but he's learning". In other words, zero-****s given.

Good luck
Member
Dec 11, 2013
251 posts
137 upvotes
Toronto
AndrewShev wrote:
Jan 10th, 2018 5:46 am
suck it up and wait for his promotion. That type of people moves pretty fast through a$$ licking and k0k sucking.
The currency of the world my friend.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 8, 2007
4642 posts
852 upvotes
From your story:

1) less than ideal workplace culture for career development
2) manager doesn’t think highly of you / respect you

If so, the answer is leave, on your terms. You can sit it out, maybe if you’ve been with the company for awhile and have a meaningful pension to care about, just know you won’t be going anywhere any time soon and that you’ll be walking a thin line all the time while you’re there because of the uncertainty. That leads to elevated base stress levels - being on edge in an environment with low consistency or predictability - and higher cortisol levels. It ages you. Literally takes years off your life.

Leaving, while maybe not the ideal scenario, may be necessary. Don’t stickaround to fix what’s already broken - it doesn’t work that way. You’re in the lower position of power. Save your time and effort, take the life lesson, and go elsewhere - the sooner the better. The less time you waste, the better.

As an aside, I think everyone has at least one bad boss experience in their careers. Either they chose them by accident, thinking the dynamic would be one way and it turned out to be another, or they were in an existing team and a new boss came in. In most cases, successful people adapt and move on.

Here’s another point to consider - how important is this existing job to what you want to do long term? Do you have to do this for X years to develop the credibility to get into what you want to do later? Is it a well regarded stepping stone? Sometimes, when moving on isn’t an option, the focus becomes making important relationships work. In this case that falls entirely on you. And, as mentioned before, if there’s already an existing perception that you’re not a team player or you do not fit in or are a problem case - well, there are a lot of existing threads on this forum about searching for a new job while continuing to hit the bar at your current place of employment until you have lined an offer up.

Good luck.
Mark77 wrote:"All aspiring students should go into the financial services - engineering is, and always has been, a poor choice for our brightest minds ... and TodayHello is my Hero ..."
Hydropwnics wrote:"TodayHello is a certified hustler and original gangster."
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
2422 posts
460 upvotes
Edmonton
I had a boss like that. After roughly two weeks of him being on my case I told him to **** off and left right before noon. Once I told him that he got all red and angry some more and I knew I won. Got another job couple days later, 7 bucks an hour more. Anytime someone starts having issues with me I fix em straight or if I can't I quit and get something else. You live one life, might as well enjoy it and not be stressed
warming up the earth 1 gas fill-up at a time...
You only live once, get a v8
Deal Fanatic
Dec 11, 2008
8484 posts
769 upvotes
Sounds like your workplace tolerates this behaviour.

Do you have HR to speak to?

Otherwise, it's also the company and it's best to look elsewhere.
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2009
2416 posts
438 upvotes
Toronto
tmkf_patryk wrote:
Jan 11th, 2018 12:22 am
I had a boss like that. After roughly two weeks of him being on my case I told him to **** off and left right before noon. Once I told him that he got all red and angry some more and I knew I won. Got another job couple days later, 7 bucks an hour more. Anytime someone starts having issues with me I fix em straight or if I can't I quit and get something else. You live one life, might as well enjoy it and not be stressed
You have the skills and expertise to do this. I did the same when I did not agree with management, but I left quietly. However, many do not have the same luxury, else minimum wage increase wouldn't exist.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 15, 2015
1059 posts
127 upvotes
Markham, ON
Maybe someone else is breathing down on his neck. Maybe something happened that you are unaware of and that's why now he has to be tighter and stricter.

It is sad when you see work quality go down as the staff quality go down while the volume of work piles up.
Member
Jul 1, 2017
215 posts
119 upvotes
Poppwl wrote:
Jan 11th, 2018 1:19 pm
Maybe someone else is breathing down on his neck. Maybe something happened that you are unaware of and that's why now he has to be tighter and stricter.

It is sad when you see work quality go down as the staff quality go down while the volume of work piles up.
If something becomes more urgent - you meet with your team to explain changes and/or deadlines. Treating your employees like garbage is deplorable and employers need to deal more strictly with managers doing this.

I hate bad managers; having had one for over a year, I have no empathy towards bad management. These are people's lives and everyone takes work home at the personal level. If you cannot manage yourself, you shouldn't be managing others.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 15, 2015
1059 posts
127 upvotes
Markham, ON
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Jan 11th, 2018 1:25 pm
If something becomes more urgent - you meet with your team to explain changes and/or deadlines. Treating your employees like garbage is deplorable and employers need to deal more strictly with managers doing this.

I hate bad managers; having had one for over a year, I have no empathy towards bad management. These are people's lives and everyone takes work home at the personal level. If you cannot manage yourself, you shouldn't be managing others.
It's ok it's a one person team. Everyone else in the office does no work. All the client can complain about not getting work because the manager has not have time to review it yet. A variety of work is done by the employee in the non-manager role and the manager has no time to review and will not give it to whoever is reviewing the manager work to review thus holding up the process. The person waiting for a feedback NEVER gets a feedback. How can the person who is doing the work learn when you never get feedback because you were too slow and no one is looking at your work.
Member
Jul 1, 2017
215 posts
119 upvotes
Poppwl wrote:
Jan 11th, 2018 1:41 pm
It's ok it's a one person team. Everyone else in the office does no work. All the client can complain about not getting work because the manager has not have time to review it yet. A variety of work is done by the employee in the non-manager role and the manager has no time to review and will not give it to whoever is reviewing the manager work to review thus holding up the process. The person waiting for a feedback NEVER gets a feedback. How can the person who is doing the work learn when you never get feedback because you were too slow and no one is looking at your work.
Sounds like a bad employer to be honest.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Dec 7, 2009
13642 posts
1258 upvotes
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Jan 10th, 2018 10:11 am
I was in a similar situtation - except, I wasn't the target.

My previous boss couldn't handle an incompetent employee; the guy would gossip behind her back, put her down in general, be abrasive on 'orders', and ignore any constructive feedback. During her termination, I read her performance management letters that I had access to based on my role. The girl commented on pretty much everything you spoke about; the girl distanced herself and worked/tried to have work assigned to her by her boss' boss directly. The entire approach my boss used to handle her was deplorable and it effected everyone else on the team. Myself and another manager were always left in the cross-hairs wondering "how do we comment". The girl ended up becoming over-protective of her work and it created a very toxic environment - I even made a thread about her last year and how to deal with it. I ended up just ignoring her, which, in contrast was only making the situation worse because it further distanced her from the company. It wasn't fair - but, her toxic demeanor was a direct result of our boss.

Needlessly to say - she was fired. Even after her departure, the boss would still bring up screw-ups the girl made and how "nobody else seems to make these" or "why was she doing this?"; both myself and the other manager would comment about "it's in the past" or "let it go"; it was seriously ****ed-up.
Oh wow, very well described, thank you. I am totally the type to take my co-workers side if I felt someone was being bullied or unfairly treated. I know it's human nature for people to distance themselves from the pariah, but the thought of taking down a bully manager actually excites me.

I'm lucky in that the managers I've had in my past few jobs have been pretty good at people management. If they were nasty or unfair, they had the decency to keep it out of earshot.. which really, is that so hard to do?
In a perfect system, corporations would fear the government and the government would fear the people. - David Wong

Check out caRpetbomBer's picks in this thread.
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 4, 2010
1715 posts
354 upvotes
HelloWorld3 wrote:
Jan 10th, 2018 10:11 am
My advice to you - leave "if" you are absolutely correct that others are being treated the same way....I know I'm giving two outcomes: you leave, or your boss leaves. Understand that some managers are just terrible and cannot be corrected. In this case, he shouldn't be a manager.
Thanks for sharing - others are definitely treated this way. They all confirmed it, we've discussed as a group and individually and all have felt the same thing. The difference is I'm a newer employee and they have been in the office much longer and have come to accept it...I'm not clear on why. I guess they feel everything else is good enough to put up with. I've been told that it's cyclical and that it's a phase and has been going on a long time. I've seen it come and go during my short time here. The rest of the time this individual is a lovely person. It's just hard to respect them, even like them and feel trust when I don't know when the next shot will come. It really seems to relate directly to their anxiety and stress levels.

I l genuinely like everything about the place except this one aspect of it. An aspect that is unfortunately really key.

VESTEGAARD wrote:
Jan 10th, 2018 8:18 am
I think he might see you as competition.. I think that if you show you are annoyed by his behaviour it will get worse (he sees he has influence on you), but as soon as you let his behaviour wash away your life will be easier....And then you can turn around and walk away. You know you did your job right and he feels he did his. Water under the bridge. Don't let it get to you, otherwise you'll have co workers or bosses like this the rest of your life.
I don't know about competition, I work on stuff that he doesn't necessarily know enough about to speak intelligently on the subject and that may put him off balance when trying to tell me what to do. You're right, I shouldn't let it get to me but when I'm being put on the spot in front of my colleagues and basically scolded or put down I can't help but take it a bit personally, especially if I haven't really even done anything. I suppose I should nod and smile and be super agreeable even if what's being suggested is super inefficient, doesn't make any sense or will cause a lot of extra work for me. Maybe that's just how this place works. The manager will always get the last say, and this one thinks only his opinion counts. There's also a bit of intimidation tactics being used. Like being stared down, no blinking in silence so you feel the need to fill the space and you squirm. It's a gross feeling, like a dog that's been cornered and is whimpering.
TodayHello wrote:
Jan 10th, 2018 11:01 pm
From your story:

1) less than ideal workplace culture for career development
2) manager doesn’t think highly of you / respect you
Both these things are true to varying degrees. #1 this place doesn't have much growth potential BUT I need the experience at the level that I'm at and this place will give me that for now. #2 this is one I can't quite put my finger on because its very much an on and off switch. When this individual is in a good mood they will laugh and joke and converse with me as though nothing happened, like I'm a friend and ally. When they're in a bad mood it's like I'm a child who needs a hand slapping to be put in my place and shown whose boss. I know I do a good job, I think him and I clash because of our personalities more than anything work related. The problem is it's impossible to know when you will be the target of these mood swings.

I think the best way to describe it now that I can put some emotion aside and view it analytically is that he can see that I shut down when he gets like this, so like your classic abuser the next day he'll be super nice, friendly and even complimentary. I find it manipulative, It keeps me VERY unsure of what to think, it almost like he thinks it resets what happened the day before and maybe it's supposed to? Maybe I should just let it go? Like I said, everything else about the place is good. I can see why other employees stay as long as they have. Everything has a pro and con right? I don't feel good after these interactions though. I feel manipulated and distrustful.

I know the only answer is to either accept it or leave. I've had the luck to never have a boss like this before at least I know what to look for now in the future.
No Longer the Resident Permatemp

Top