Key Point: Supervisor abuse generally includes rudeness, public criticism, tantrums, and other inconsiderate actions. And this abuse is proven to cause unreasonable levels of stress at work AND home. If the supervisor shows no or little interest in seriously improving, get out of the relationship as soon as you can. No job is worth this abuse in the long run.
A study from Baylor University, reported in article in the winter 2011 issue of Personnel Psychology, found that the stress and tension caused by an abusive boss at work also filters through to an employee’s personal relationships and ultimately the whole family. When people reported having an abusive boss, their significant other was more likely to report increased relationship tension and family conflict at home. Numerous other studies reinforce this finding. Abusive bosses are “stalkers;” they follow you right to your kitchen table.
Try having a “crucial conversation” with your boss, pointing out abusive behavior. They will demonstrate their commitment to improve through active listening and taking meaningful action to improve.
Determine how and if you can help them self-improve. However they are self-accountable in stopping the abusive behavior. They need to demonstrate improvement.
Do not get caught into a “gripe fest” complaining about the boss’ behavior. This helps no one, least of all you.
Make a plan to get out of the relationship. RESPECT, for yourself and others, is a minimum acceptable requirement in a work environment.
This is a hard lesson many of us have to learn a few times in our careers. Here it is – the better you make your boss look good, the better things will go for you. If you get in negative competition with your boss, 99% of the time you will lose.
I’ve noticed that often inexperienced employees have difficulty seeing their bosses get credit for work they’ve done. Of course strong, confident bosses share credit and recognition for superb work and are usually very generous in this regard. But not all bosses are great. Some are just lousy. And most of us bosses are evolving combinations of strengths and shortcomings.
Drop everything and do what your boss asks. Your boss’s agenda is your agenda if she/he asks. You may think it’s not too important or relative to what you’re doing, but trust me, it is. Your boss may not even be able to explain the reason it is important. Just do it.
Under promise and over deliver. I learned this painfully over the years. I liked to communicate my enthusiastic intent to do assignments and therefore I risked making great work appear just good when completed. Be skillful at outlining the challenges with the assignment AND THEN hit a “home run.”
Prototype your work. Test progress on your assignment early with your boss. She will be pleased that you “jumped on it” and also give you a steering correction if necessary.
Show and broadcast your progress. Don’t pump and dump your work. Show milestones and accomplishments along the way. Keep your boss informed. Be your own PR firm. Don’t confuse modesty with naivety. Show your stuff.
Form friendships. When you have lots of friends and supporters at work you increase your boss’s sphere of influence and by extension your relationship with him/her. Plus no one likes to mess with someone who has a large network of friends and fans.
Ask for mentoring. Every boss has something to teach you and we all have egos. Bosses like to share their knowledge with genuinely interested people. Be sincere though, take the mentoring seriously or your relationship will deteriorate.
Deliver bad news early. Again, this is something I’ve learned the hard way. Regardless of how bad the news is, telling it early gives you an opportunity to address it and do damage control. Don’t wait it; it will hurt more later. Trust me on this one.
Make a decision to give to yourself by making your boss look great. This is NOT “brown nosing” (a horrible phrase actually). It is being generous of spirit and just plain smart.
Check where you are on the Big Boss 7, as I’ve named them above. Be honest. Even if you think you’re better than your boss, this is the right thing to do (unless your boss is doing something illegal and/or immoral of course).
Consciously practice all of the above. Do it. Make your boss look good.
People quit bosses not companies. This adage is an accepted reality of organization life. And even if people don’t quit, they can become compliant versus motivated when having to deal with a boss who lacks respect and empathy.
Researchers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management found by using the E test and other experiments, that a surplus of power (that bosses often have) led to a deficit of empathy. To learn about the E test go to Dan Pinks article in The Telegraph.
Great leaders and managers have to be strategic and decisive. Yet they are also superb at the so called “soft stuff.” Accomplished observers of leadership like Tom Peters have said over and over that the soft stuff is the hard stuff.
Talk less and listen more. Care about the people we work with. Look at things from the perspective of others.
Be nice. Being tough, decisive, and quantitative does not mean we have to act with arrogance.
Try the E test. Which way is your E pointing? Try this with your boss. How did he/she do?
I must admit that I really enjoyed the movie Horrible Bosses and found myself laughing out loud at the absurd craziness of the boss characters played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell, in juxtaposition to their three direct reports. Yes, I admit this may be a comment on my depth of intelligence ha-ha.
However, as I began to read actual stories about the number of horrible bosses people are currently working for, it actually surprised me how real these “movie character” bosses may be. If the many tweets and blog posts are true, they actually do exist and perhaps even in bigger numbers than I might imagine. With almost 10% unemployment in America, the long term uncertainty of our economy, allegedly 48 million people in the U.S. on food stamps, and a depleted or out of touch union movement, etc., one begins to wonder if bosses are acting in more unacceptable ways than ever, some just because they can. This is not so funny, and certainly not a movie. In fact I do know people, particularly those new to the work force, that are “just happy to have a job” and don’t want to rock the boat. So what should you and I expect from our boss?
A great boss (i.e. a rating score of 10) will deeply care about our personal growth and development. They will be exceptional coaches and proactively work to make us even greater than them. Of course they will be superb communicators and we will know what’s expected of us. They will not be perfect, and have off days or behavior. But we will trust them because of their fair-minded consistency and personal integrity. Of course in my language they will be self accountable, respectful, and abundant; they will embody the Character Triangle in all that they do.
Less than great bosses fall somewhere down on the “great continuum” (let’s say between 5 and 10) and we will likely work with quite a few of them in our career. Hopefully most of them are closer to a 10 than not. These bosses deserve our best and often we can help them improve too. They are usually open to learning, and working with them is most often at least tolerable. What we CANNOT do is work for the people below 5. And here is what I believe constitutes a less than 5.
Horrible bosses are bullies. They will attack us personally and consistently (or even worse, inconsistently), and blame and diminish us for whatever is wrong in their world. They will play on our well meaning desire to succeed and will grind on us until we lose our personal way. They will berate us and behave in ways where we begin to doubt ourselves and feel like we deserve what we get. They will think that our options and alternatives are limited and will behave accordingly. The worst of this kind will consciously exploit what they see as our vulnerabilities.
Character Move: if we have a horrible boss like this, we have only one reasonable strategy (and it’s obviously not the one employed in Horrible Bosses), and that’s to get out. My experience is that horrible bosses are unlikely to change. They feel that might is right. Most often, people like this hide as managers or owners in small to medium businesses. But that’s where most of us work in America. Make a concerted plan to divorce yourself, and I use that term somewhat deliberately. Make a detailed plan on how to get out and find a work environment you deserve. Most often we need a support team to help us build that plan. I am practical and realize how tough this is in our current economic environment. But, find a way to leave. Life is just too darn short as they say… (for help go to http://www.workplacebullying.org).
The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ... Read more about Lorne Rubis
Also available at all Hudson News Bookstores in major U.S. airports.
Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.
What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?
The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:
Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame. Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process. Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.