TSI Blog

Have You Got A Scary Boss?

October 22nd, 2015 by Alison McKinney

PumpkinWith Halloween just a matter of days away, I started to think about all things scary. When I was young, I was scared of all sorts of things, my dad, the school bully, monsters under the bed, ghosts in the wardrobe, you name it, but not so much these days.

Now I’m not saying that my boss is scary, though he does tend to make me jump sometimes, he is in fact completely the opposite – very democratic, visionary and able to let us all get on with what we need to do without too much interference.

However, I have had experience of bosses that have really terrified me.

Managers definitely have a way of being intimidating, and there’s a very good reason for that. It’s because they can.

You might think that being frightened of your boss would make employees work harder to impress, but actually, nothing could be farther from the truth.

For organisations, scary, bad bosses can create all sorts of problems, causing higher levels of absenteeism, staff becoming disengaged and unproductive in their work, and even quitting their jobs.

This is not good news for any business.

So what to do about them? Here, we offer up a few things to try:

  1. Understanding

Understanding what makes these types of bosses the way they are is important. The one thing abusive, dysfunctional bosses seem to have in common is that they’re behaviour is a result of their own issues and problems that have absolutely nothing to do with you.

It might help you sleep better at night knowing this, but it’s more important that you develop a level of empathy for the poor sole and gain some perspective. Remember that they are only human and has faults just like the rest of us. Moreover, you do just only work for them. Afterall, you can resign. Remember, they have to live with themselves every day for the rest of their life and that you don’t have to.

  1. Strategy

“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”- Sun Tzu. One way of handling a scary, abusive boss is to wait them out. On the other hand, “long enough” can be a mighty long time. While you’re waiting by the river, you should use the time to gain some perspective.

If you let negative feelings toward your boss brew away, they’ll surely leak out from time to time. You may not notice, but others will and so will your boss. Try to control these feelings. It’s not a good idea to go behind your bosses back, or to go head to head on any matter. If you do, you may very well win the battle, but not the war.

Alternatively, find a way to respect and appreciate your boss for what they do well and use your strengths to complement their shortcomings. Whether they’re happy to admit it or not, they need you or you simply wouldn’t be there.

  1. Practice

It can be difficult at first, but with practice, it gets easier and eventually becomes second nature. Using these methods, I survived a scary boss for several years until I decided to move onto pastures new. It really works.

If the process fails for some reason, remember that what goes around, comes and around and karma will surely catch up with your scary boss and reincarnate them as something rather unpleasant.

And, if you do end up losing the war and losing your job, remember this parting line, “I’ve been fired by better people.”!

We at The Survey Initiative pride ourselves in the work we do in partnership with organisations to help build and maintain employee engagement levels. So if you would like to know more about how we can help your organisation, then give us a call on +44 (0)1255 850051 or contact us via our website.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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