As a newspaper and Internet columnist for the past nine years I have received many disturbing letters from readers about their workplace issues. Of course, people are less likely to write in with positive stories, but some of the on-the-job tales I hear are downright scary.
When you first join a company, your instinct is to give respect and honour to the person you report to, at least until they prove this trust is misguided. Sometimes people in authority take their titles just a little too seriously. When this happens, the subsequent behaviour that plays itself out is often in the form of bullying or harassment.
What constitutes “Bosszilla” behaviour?
- Verbal put downs, either in front of others or rudely one on one
- Nit picking, pettiness
- Intrusiveness, micro-managing
- Taking credit for employee work or ideas
- Physical attacks
- Complete lack of any positive feedback
- Misses scheduled meetings; cancels meetings at the last minute
- Miscommunication or lack of keeping staff in the loop
- Lack of support for you to accomplish your job
- Caves under pressure, won’t defend his/her team
- Setting employees up for failure with unrealistic or impossible demands
And the list goes on…..
Oddly enough, your ‘Godzilla’ boss may not even know that he or she is a ‘bad boss.’ Unaware bosses may not realize that their inability to provide direction or feedback makes them ‘bad.’ Alternatively managers who micromanage or provide too much direction may themselves feel insecure or uncertain about their own job.
One manager offered an open door policy to his staff if they ever had a question or problem and checked in with those on new projects periodically. One staff member interpreted this behaviour as meddling and untrusting of their ability. The manager was very well intentioned and wanted the employee to succeed and didn’t want them to feel stranded or unsupported, but his concern was misconstrued entirely.
Generation Yers often feel put upon by their superiors as there is such a vast difference between Gen Y workplace values and motivators and those of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
Then there are the rude, belligerent, disrespectful Bosszillas for whom there is no excuse.
Whichever category your manager fits into try following these approaches for turning Bosszilla into vanilla:
- Many people are afraid to be honest and up front with their managers for fear of losing their job or being made to look like an outsider, which inevitably leads to stress, depression and a firing or you leaving. That being said, the first step is to talk to your boss. Tell her what you need from her in terms of direction, feedback and support. Focus on your needs and be courteous.
- Ask your manager how you can help her meet her goals or make her job easier.
- Find a mentor in another manager or a senior colleague who knows your manager and will offer constructive advice.
- Once you have done wall that you can with your manager and change is not eminent, go to your boss’s manager or the HR department. Note that once you have taken it to this level your boss may try to retaliate by bringing up your weaknesses or making your life miserable. ‘Marion’ ended up in HR with a complaint of bullying and the company put her on probation with a list of conditions for her improvement. The bullying was swept under the carpet. Marion exceeded her conditions, but she was fired anyway. Of course it was the best thing that could have happen to her, and remember when things are really unfair, a good lawyer can help make the pain go away.
- If nothing is done to rectify the behaviour you might ask colleagues who have experienced the same behaviour for their support in talking to the boss’s manager.
- If you think change is just not possible, ask to be moved to another department, which shows you still like the company. If another posting is not possible it just might be time to move on and look for a new job in a new company.
We can’t change other people unless they want to be changed. Most people behave the way they do because they think their behaviour is acceptable.
Bill 168, the Workplace Harassment and Violence program, has been enacted in Ontario giving employees an upper hand legally towards any hint of abuse by superiors or peers.
One thing is for sure, ‘Bosszillas’ were not raised with the life lesson of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of: Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How to Get a Job and Keep It