How to work effectively with a difficult boss


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    Key Books

    Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal With People Who Try to Control You

    Crucial Conversations

    The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job

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    Bullying Boss has scared away numerous employees.

    Posted by: EliseJones
    Date: 11/29/2008 12:03:07 PM

    I work for a government agency in the engineering section where the turnover rate is high primarily due to a boss who has an explosive temper. The situation gradually gets worse with time.

    From what I have observed, my boss has treated new employees very well and spends a lot of time forming very close friendships with other managers, and he turns on his very likable charm for upper management. Those people who experience the brunt of his temper the most are typically non-management staff that have worked with him for over two years.

    Upper management places high value in him and views him as an aggressive boss who is great for getting things accomplished. Those who have dared to defy management (combination of men and women), go to EEOC, or complain at have somehow eventually gotten the boot. (??!!!) This boss is an expert at making people look incompetent as well as making the workplace intolerable for that "loser employee". He will take credit for others' good work and go out of his way to make sure that others are blamed for absolutely anything that goes wrong even if he is at least partially to blame.

    I dealt with it by just being the good employee, working hard, and then when he started to bully me around after almost two years, I had to confront him about his behavior. Over the course of a year and a half, I had confronted him about four times to let him know how he was affecting me and let him know that if he would refrain from the yelling (other people can hear this yelling), I could serve him better. The last confrontation came up a couple of weeks ago when he wrongly accused me of lying and defying his orders. After realizing that I was very upset, he quickly calmed down and kept reassuring me reptitively that I was"doing a good job". However, days later, he returned to the same type of bad behavior (This is typical of how my past confrontations have turned out. He behaves better for a stretch of time (usually months, not days), and then returns to the bad behavior).I believe that continuing to work under him could damage my career even though I have a good reputation. (He praised me extensively when I was new and gradually got worse with time. Additionally, he tends to make poor decisions that affect me adversely when he gets in one of his irrational moods.)

    Due to the economy, there have been hiring freezes at other places that I would otherwise apply to and I have been advised that this is a terrible time to look for a new job. There is also not a way that I can move laterally within the organization that I am in with my profession. I do not want to complain to upper management or human resources after watching other employees' fate either especially if it will hurt my chances for future employment. I am between a rock and a hard place,amongst a shipload of new employees, and feeling like a target. Any advise?

    Reply from: boss_sucks_dung
    Date: 12/1/2008 2:20:00 PM
    Reply: Therapy. Get it now. If you can't leave this job for now, your boss will eventually trash your self worth and self esteem as an employee and as a human as being around him long enough will erode your own character and composure. Talk to a therapist and develop good coping strategies. Look for new work. Even if the economy sucks, there's always attrition elsewhere from employees retiring, getting promoted or moving away.

    Reply from: lamarrn
    Date: 12/1/2008 4:36:00 PM
    Reply: I agree with the previous post...You should seek therapy, which will also serve as proof on your behalf, if ever needed. Unfortunately, you will have to use precaution in complaining to hire management, because the result can lead to you being blacklisted internally and within similar agencies that you are liken to seek employment from. I'm now unemployed, and it is indeed a desert when it comes to finding a new job at present. However, staying too long will ultimately cause you more damage than not, because you will ultimately question your self-worth, as your self-esteem will take a bruising. Be prepared for this, if you are indeed a target. I was a target for my steller book-of-business, and they treated me like a second class citizen, which I am trying to use self-help techniques to heal, as I no longer have medical insurance. It would work in your favor to seek employment discreetly and bolt.

    Reply from: the big guy
    Date: 12/3/2008 9:56:00 AM
    Reply: my boss calls me fat all the time i think it is to get my attention but how does a guy 6.2" 245 tell a boss that this hurts when you call me this all the time .i also lost my job to a wrongfull dismisal yesturday morning i have 2 kids and a wonderfull wife i worked for this company for 10 years and never ever been asked to do things twice.just before christmas not know what i should do????

    Reply from: justme
    Date: 1/16/2009 10:40:00 PM
    Reply: It sounds to me like your boss has inferiority issues. That's why they like the new employees - it's a clean slate. Once the honeymoon phase is over, the temper tantrums start. Always having new employees keeps your boss in charge. No one has the experience to take his place. I think even the worst bad bosses will still be nice to their equals and their bosses, they know not to make enemies there, but everyone lower than them is fair game. It's almost like they can't control themselves and need someone stronger than they are to keep them in line. My advise to you would be to make string contacts with the people your boss respects. That way if he is evil to you, it will get back to them and embarrass him. I have an evil boss too, but she keeps her distance from me (usually) because she has seen me talking to her supervisors on a friendly basis. She knows she can't complain about me (to anyone who cares) without causing some questions as they know me better (and my work ethic) than she does.

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