In The Workplace

I’ve been a manager for a major company for five years. I’m happy with my pay and perks package and the working environment until a recent reorganization resulting in the promotion of a colleague as our boss and department vice-president. On his fifth month on the job, he showed an unusual management style that many of his direct reports abhor. For one, he takes credit for our exceptional work and does not bother to commend people who contributed a lot to make it happen. Is this the right time now to leave this company? — Just Asking

When you make a drastic move and decide to leave the organization, the worst thing that could happen to you now is to have coffee breaks on your own unpaid time and lose your bargaining power with a potential employer. Therefore, don’t take it seriously. You need to take things easy and roll with the tide until another opportunity or a better situation comes up.

So what kind of opportunity or better situation are we looking at?

It depends on you. The question that only you can answer is — what makes you happy in that organization? Also, you may not be able to control but only manage your own boss. And if we’re only to consider that credit-grabbing style of your boss, then consider it nothing compared to what other managers must experience with other tough and toxic bosses as defined in my list below.

Your primary focus is to efficiently manage your employees in the performance of their respective tasks. This is not to say that you should totally ignore your perceived injustices by your boss. What I’m saying is that if you focus on doing the best for your department and keeps on managing your relationship with your boss, then everything will be all right.

Now, how seriously wrongful is the “unusual management style” of your department vice-president? You have not listed down all possible issues with your boss, which is understandable due to space limitations. Therefore, allow me to approximate the most common types of unfair treatment committed by many toxic bosses and recommend things for you:

One, your boss distrusts you with important information. Don’t fret about it. Maybe your boss is testing your creativity and resourcefulness. Look for ways to do your job based on available data from other managers, departments, even outside of the organization. Use those credible facts and figures from other sources to surprise your boss.

Two, your boss blames you for his serious mistakes. Clarify this issue in a face-to-face encounter with your boss in a private room. Be brave enough but not argumentative. Find out why he’s blaming you for his serious mistakes. Explain your side. Whatever happens, don’t apologize if there’s no need for it. But if it’s clearly your fault, then accept it and apologize.

Three, your boss insults or disrespects you in front of others. When you hear verbal attacks to your face, take an immediate stand and say: “That’s an insult! It’s unfair to me” or words to that effect. Call your boss’s attention to the fact that such behavior is wrong. But be cool just the same. It’s difficult, but that’s the only way to stop an abusive boss.

Four, your boss makes decision without consulting you. That’s OK from time-to-time but not all the time. The reasons may vary. It can range from expertise in a given area to personal friendship with some concerned employees or customers. Step back for a while and reassess your options. Clarify the issue with the boss if it becomes a bad habit on his part.

Five, your boss rejects your ideas and proposals all the time. The proven cure to this is always to present your ideas in person. Don’t rely on sending emails and leave it at that. If you do that, make a personal follow-up to find out his objections or clarifications on why your boss is dragging his feet.

Last, your boss takes credit for your exceptional work. At times, giving credit when and where it is due can be neglected by the boss who might want to maintain good work relationships with everyone. Don’t feel bad about it. Some bosses feel and think that if they must be held accountable for their sub-par performance, then likewise, they must be given full credit for the above-par performance of their department.

Anyway, your boss knows where to get valuable assistance and good ideas — from people like you. Therefore, keep those ideas coming without any resentment. If you keep on harboring bitterness, somehow, it will show and will adversely affect your performance. If this happens, your boss may take it against you and you could end up on the losing end.

Let your enthusiasm show to people and your boss no matter what. Always communicate your ideas in a positive manner. Cover for your boss when something goes wrong. If your boss commits a serious mistake and he can’t shift the blame to other people, divert attention from it by helping him identify a faulty organizational system.

Your boss will know it for sure and he will not only appreciate your support that may be translated into something bountiful for your mutual emotional bank account. Give yourself another chance to work harmoniously with your boss within the next six months. After that, and if he continues with his old, rotten ways, then prepare to leave for better employment opportunities elsewhere.

ELBONOMICS: Level up your relationship with people, one good chat at a time.


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