The heinous, egotistical, and downright mean boss has become a familiar and even comical character in our culture. The “bad boss” scenario is a situation that most members of society can recognize, relate to, and even find the humor in, which is why there is buzz and anticipation around the upcoming summer film “Horrible Bosses,” a flick that will poke fun at the most trying, uncomfortable, and ridiculous aspects of dealing with a bad superior. However, when you are in the moment and are dealing with a bully of a boss, it isn’t so funny. If you yourself are a mean boss, shame on you. If you are one of the unfortunate employees who feels like curling up under your desk every time your boss enters the room, read ahead for tips from an MSN Careers article. (Note: For anyone familiar with the plotline of “Horrible Bosses,” a hitman is NOT the correct option for coping with a bad boss; read on for far more productive and legal solutions!)
7 Tips for handling a mean manager:
When it comes to managers, there are many personality types to deal with — demanding, micromanaging, hands-off or even relaxed. But perhaps the worst kind of manager to deal with is one who is downright evil.
It’s important to note, however, that there’s a difference between a boss who is perceived as mean because he is tough and a boss who is mean because he is a bully, says Treivor Branch, author of “The Drama-Free Workweek” and CEO of The Branch Solution LLC.
“A bully enjoys belittling and berating employees to cover up their own insecurities. The bully may scream, yell or humiliate employees to make them feel incompetent and fails to recognize or reward good work,” he says. “A boss who is simply tough has high standards of excellence, but at the same time recognizes and rewards employees for good work.”
Doing good work might be hard in a toxic work environment. While some employees may be able to perform effectively under a mean boss, more will crumble under the consistent pressure of trying to meet the demands of mean, unreasonable boss, Branch says. And that makes for less productivity, which is not good in today’s work climate.
If you have an evil boss, here are seven tips from Branch and Hurzeler:
1. Make the distinction.
“Make sure you have not confused ‘demanding” with ‘mean.’ There are lots of demanding bosses out there, who demand you do the job you are paid to do. If you are not qualified to do that job or cannot do the job for some reason, the problem is actually yours. What might sound mean to you is probably just the facts being placed before you. Suspect yourself and do all you can to deliver as required on your job,” Hurzeler says. “If you have delivered on time and as promised, and the boss is still mean to you, sit down and talk to the boss.”
2. Take a break.
“Working for a mean or bully boss can be one of the top stressors in the workplace and can cause severe stress-related health problems. In view of this, it is essential for employees to take a stress break when they are confronted with a mean or bully boss. Take time off from work for at least a week and be sure to visit your doctor during this time,” Branch says.
3. Don’t shut down.
“If you fold up under the pressure of a mean boss, the boss is then given the sword to take you out of the game. The mean boss wins and you lose,” Hurzeler says. “Bring your best game to work every single day and you will outlast or win over the mean boss. You win. Mean loses.”
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“Employees should begin to document the mean boss’s behavior. Make note of negative actions taken by the boss and how they are impacting employee productivity. Include details such as dates, times, specifics of the mean boss behavior and employees targeted. Include what attempts, if any, were made by you or other employees to address the situation and the outcome of such interventions,” Branch says.
5. Constructively confront
“Meet with the mean boss to address your concerns. Keep your emotions intact. Do not scream, yell or become aggressive. Keep your tone calm and even. Be careful not to point the finger or focus on the individual, but rather seek to understand and resolve any concerns the boss may have which lead to the mean behavior. Ask open-ended questions. Ask how you can better support the boss,” Branch says.
6. Report the boss
“Make your human resources department aware of the situation, especially if the situation escalates following your discussion with the boss. Be sure to present your documentation. In addition, you may want to contact an attorney as some of the boss’s actions may violate laws regarding hostile work environments and may be eligible for legal action,” Branch says.
7. Plan your exit
“The negative impact of working with a mean boss is too great. If you are in a situation where you work for a mean or spiteful boss, plan your exit. Update your résumé and begin circulating it internally and externally,” Branch says. “Work your network to learn about unadvertised opportunities in other areas of the company or at another company. No employee should have to work in a mentally, emotionally and, in some instances, physically debilitating environment.”