Helping Managers Deal with ‘Horrible Bosses’
Posted on August 12, 2011 by David Edelson in Best Practices
By David Edelson, a member of TriNet’s Human Capital Services team
Earlier this week we asked our Facebook fans to share their ‘horrible bosses’ stories, in the spirit of the recently released movie. And boy-oh-boy, were there some doozies. Loretta had a VP that HR knew was belittling coworkers… in the hallways, standing outside their offices yelling and cursing. Loretta shared that, for many of her colleagues, the stress of the situation manifested into physical illnesses.
Naomi also had a boss who often yelled—from three rooms away. She got away from that situation, and soon after, the company unfortunately went out of business.
And then there’s Alma, who was self-administering medical care when her manager interrupted to confirm Alma was not taking care of herself on the clock. HR found the manager to be out of line in other situations with Alma’s colleagues and was eventually taken out of a ‘people facing’ role.
We’re happy to report that our respondents are no longer in these ‘horrible boss’ situations. But we know there are many more out there who aren’t as lucky. Managers: this is where you can help! If you have witnessed a situation that made you or someone else feel uncomfortable, or are concerned your company would be embarrassed—or face other implications—if the situation became public, now is the time to respond. Here are some thoughts managers should consider if they have a known ‘horrible boss’ within their organizations.
- The handbook is your friend – familiarize yourself with your organization’s employee handbook and/or policies regarding conflicts, employee conduct and harassment prevention.
- Take responsibility – bring questionable situations to the attention of Human Resources, or another appropriate organizational contact. You may also want to suggest applicable training or coaching for the individual
- Lead by example – always demonstrate professional demeanor and conduct. Your actions represent your organization, so hold yourself to a higher standard.
- Keep those eyes open – remain vigilant for potential issues that may arise as a result of ‘horrible boss’ behavior or interactions with colleagues.
- Consider a ‘fireside’ chat – depending on your relationship with this individual, you may wish to talk to them privately, peer-to-peer, about their conduct and how it is impacting the organization and their team. The individual may not realize they have a ‘horrible’ reputation based on their treatment of others.
- Train everybody – organization-wide communication training and/or team building could prove a valuable effort if it appears there is a more systemic issue within the organization.
- Don’t forget your EAP – If available, Employee Assistance Programs provide valuable information and are always on call, for both the ‘horrible bosses’ and affected colleagues.
If you’re a manager who has responded to a ‘horrible boss’ situation, we’d love to hear your story. Please feel free to share in the comments.