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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How to Deal with a Difficult Manager

I received a very interesting question in my inbox from a person known as "travellingfellow." The note was in response to a previous post, "Are You a Jerk?"

From the note:

Well, I'm not a jerk. My boss, however, is. Actually, "jerk" is too kind a word. Even "bully" doesn't cut it. I think the proper term for her is "psychopath."

TF goes on to provide some examples:
  • Criticizing employees in a group setting
  • Demeaning employee suggestions
  • Harsh and rude comments in public and private
TF is concerned that they can't approach either HR or the next senior managers. Further, due to the poor economic conditions, TF doesn't feel as though they can leave their position. What is a person to do? Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

First, TF has provided good examples of inappropriate behavior. Managers are best to "praise in public, criticize in private." Additionally, personally criticizing an employee for a suggestion leads to reticence among other employees. Why volunteer a suggestion when the response may be so unpleasant?

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To help in this situation, I would suggest the following actions. First, document the dates, times and participants where the criticism has occurred. Second, request a meeting with the manager. While this may seem both daunting and possibly futile, there is a chance the manager is unaware of the inappropriateness of the behavior, or just needs to be called on it. Protect your Medical Identity with TrustedID. $1,000,000 Warranty & Great Customer Service

In a calm tone, explain the events, providing the specifics, and request that the behavior cease. Third, be prepared to speak with the next level manager about your meeting, as well as be prepared for a meeting with HR. Review your company handbook and Code of Conduct. Make sure you are meeting all of those guidelines. Sometimes, by presenting the case in terms of what the company expects, a positive outcome is more likely.

If these steps are taken in a courteous, professional, and calm manner, there should be positive results. If there isn't, continue to document, and ask others if they have been harmed by this managers behavior as well. There is a likelihood it won't change, so be prepared to move withing the company. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

Managers, like everybody else, have their own fears, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. Given the opportunity to do better, most people will do so. A frank, polite, and professional conversation may be just the opportunity the manager needs. In short, don't give up, and don't passively accept bad behavior, especially from managers!

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