Posted by: kenwbudd | August 25, 2009

Psycho Managers: The Crimes of Bad Managers are often Buried

Like many employees, I had a boss who could be a lovely person but had terrible mood swings. She had no idea how to talk nicely to people and was not well liked. She was the wrong choice to manage people and couldn’t manage a multi-skilled team to save her life.

One minute she was clearly working hard at being the kind, supportive maternal figure who wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the lunch bill or to dole out helpful career advice. The next, she had flipped and became the tight-assed, briefcase-swinging monstorous Psycho killer of film legends.

Immature managers
Typically, when things are not going their way, they will cease to communicate; throw a tantrum; yelling, screaming and then even hiding from the situation.

Being unhappy with your work is one thing and this may incur direct but constructive criticism. All this is to be expected, but to express disgust at a document’s content by ripping each page out of the binder and throwing them at the owner, one at a time, and at the same time throwing abuse and insults around like confetti. Well, that’s simply childish and immature.

Faulty Hierarchy
Unfortunately, promotion does come too often to people who have a history of terrorising their subordinates. Revealing that the hierarchical selection criteria is flawed and is self-replicating.

It’s no secret that many managers land their jobs without having the correct skills or receiving an ounce of leadership training. Their only visible talent being that they ‘really’ want a bigger office, job title and paycheck. Leaving the acquisition of professional management skills to fate, blind chance or learning how to lead ‘on the fly’.

Cardinal Jekyll and Hyde
To be cursed with a boss who could go from “greatest gal /guy to hang out with for drinks” to an hysterical raving lunatic in mere half seconds, is very dusturbing.

Anyone that can carry around 2 separate personalities inside them and can appear to be a friendly person in the morning and a ranting monster in the afternoon, is without doubt, unfit for leadership and is clealry overwhelmed by the pressure of it.

Managing a manic manager
If resigning or getting an internal transfer isn’t a viable option, especially in today’s employment environment, you have to find and manage your boss’s trigger points. If they tend to implode after 3 p.m., seek them out early in the day and check their blood sugar levels.

If they’re a holy terror after departmental review meetings with their own manager, stay far, far away but try to find the root cause of the problem, between manager et manager.

If your boss hates long e-mails, and we all do, spread the word to keep the correspondence snappy and to the point.

If you still find yourself the target of an unexpected and undeserved tirade of abuse, don’t fight against the storm. Wait patiently until it subsides and is shown to be ineffective. Speak quietly if shouted at and stay calm. Give your boss the opportunity to vent their steam. Don’t fight noise with noise or a tantrum with a tantrum.

Micromanagers are rarely the perfectionists they claim to be. They are normally just control freaks, who cannot delegate effectively. They claim that they do not trust others but they are really very aware of their own shortcomings and insecurity. Especially, about how their own results and performance will be perceived upstairs.

Make progress lists and status checklists for them, documenting the tasks and projects you are doing, their status and their completion. Then sit your boss down and show them the last four assignments that you did that they were happy with.

Clarify, Clarify, Clarify
Tell them directly that they’re interferring with the steady efficient flow of your work, tasks and company business. Tell them bluntly that you could work more efficiently if they backed off and loosened up the reigns, refraining from asking for excessive copies and repeated rounds of revisions.

Multiple revisions normally come about because your boss has not thought their requirements through, thoroughly enough. So lots of clarification should be demanded at the earliest stage to prevent circular re-iterations at the later stages. You can do this yourself or you can prompt project team members to do so, for their own peace of mind.

You cannot be subtle with a micro-manager. You have to be direct and clear. Hit them over the head with it. If you use standard business terms and phrasing, there is less risk of offending.

To deal with an obviously incompetent boss, you have to become a role model for them and show them what the correct behaviour is. Try not to look surprised and dumb-founded, when they say something stupid.

There is an old adage that states ‘If your boss enjoys success, then you will too’. It is always better to work for a stable, well respected and efficient boss, even if it is you who has made them that way. The ability to control works in both directions. If you are aware of your boss’s mistakes, then you are the best person to take the initiative to change this.


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