“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.”
~ Doug Larson ~
David Asks: I have a manager who is always getting on everyone’s case over everything. He has even yelled at employees in front of customers. How do I deal with this situation, other than trying to stay out of his way?
Joel Answers: There is a wide variety in leadership styles between different bosses or even companies, but it is never appropriate for a manager to publicly humiliate an employee. It’s hard to enjoy your work when you’re worried about setting your boss off on a rampage. Here are some things you can do to improve your situation at work:
- Build relationships with other managers within the company. Start preparing for a lateral—or even vertical—move within the company. Work on making yourself well-known outside of your department so that you will be more likely to be considered when a position opens up elsewhere in the company.
- Remember that your boss is human. If your boss’s recent behavior is uncharacteristic of how he normally acts, consider the possibility that he may be going through something personally that is beyond his capability to deal with at the moment. Try to be understanding and express empathy in a nonthreatening way. For example, you might say, “You seem a little stressed out today. Is there anything I can do to help?”
- Stand up for yourself calmly but firmly. Just because your boss is a jerk doesn’t mean you have to let him get away with inappropriate behavior. If you feel you have been wrongly reprimanded, calmly but firmly explain why you acted the way you did.
- Report your boss. Complaining about your boss’s bad behavior to human resources is always an option, but tread carefully. It could make your life at the company more difficult. However, even if it does, your complaint will go on record and make it easier for the next person who has the courage to speak up.
If the situation doesn’t improve and you are unable to transfer to another department, you may want to consider looking for employment elsewhere. Remaining in a hostile work environment with a bad boss adds stress to your life that can detract from your overall happiness and fulfillment, not just with your career, but in other areas as well. You can eliminate that stress by finding a more satisfying position.
Are you struggling to get ahead at work? Garfinkle Executive Coaching can help you develop strong executive presence, get the attention you deserve for your work, and get the promotion you’ve always dreamed of.
Talkback: Have you ever had a bad experience with a boss? Tell us about it in the comments! Or ask a question you’d like Joel to answer in a future column.