It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it is necessary to manage your manager.
Bullying bosses make life intolerable. They sap energy out of their team and make getting work done exponentially harder. The sad truth is that some people just can’t help it and they should never have been made a manager.
The word boss doesn’t just mean the person in charge. It implies someone with a domineering manner. In other words, a bully.
If your boss is a bully you don’t have a lot of options. People who are in positions of power BECAUSE they are bullies aren’t likely to stop. For the really toxic bosses, your best option is to go work for someone else.
If you decide to stay and stick it out, what you have to do is manage your boss’s behavior. What follows is my advice on how to help bullying bosses be less bossy. And while this advice is “manipulative,” you don’t have to sell your soul to the devil to do good and be good in difficult situations. As long as you feel compassion for the boss, you can do this without violating your own standards of good behavior. Think of this as helping your boss to be a better person.
What you are going to do is train them to behave better. This isn’t about sucking up to them. It’s about figuring out what their triggers are and managing things to avoid triggering them. You stroke their ego and pay them deference so that they like you are trust you so that you can use that trust to encourage them to do the things you need them to do so that you and your coworkers can get your job done.
Bullying bosses generally bully because of insecurity of some sort. Figure out what triggers their insecurity and you can help control their anxiety that causes them to behave badly. For instance, I one time worked for a guy who had severe control issues. The solution was to keep him informed of everything and to be proactive about that. As long as he felt he knew what was going on, he remained calm. If he didn’t know, he would imagine all sorts of horrid things and he would get up in every body’s business and prevent the work that needed to get done from getting done. As long as we kept him obsessively informed, he was happy and we were happy and the work got done.
Bullying bosses can be managed; it just takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep them sane and behaving well. It can be done, but it is also exhausting and annoying. It really is easier to find another job.