What to do when the Boss Formerly Known as “Cool” goes gonzo berserk-o on you? Managing your manager in times of stress. — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I have enjoyed my job with a company until recently. I truly believe in their mission but now I find my immediate boss is totally stressed out and throwing me under the bus for things he’s missed and that his boss is getting on him for. He’s been listing off a bunch of crap and cc’ing everyone in the management chain on it. I don’t agree with his comments, but not because I’m defensive. He’s just throwing me under the bus. How do I deal with this without losing my job I need so much? — Run Over
Dear Run Over,
Ah!, petty tyrants! It’s true what they say, that they are usually our biggest teachers in life. So congrats for the promotion to working with one now. …Having said that…
When the going is good, it’s easy to be a cool and fun boss, so I will cut his current bad “skills” some slack in this stressed time. This only means I’m suggesting you schedule a one-on-one with him to discuss the concerns you’ve outlined here. This isn’t about proving a thesis or giving a lecture, but rather to address then seek cues and clues as to length and duration of his said offensive behaviors, and mutually identify some possible solutions. This first meeting should primarily be an assessment to determine a direction for your next steps in the workplace. Even if he is completely and totally open to agreeing with you and admitting his ineffective management conduct (and he won’t), changing behaviors is a process. But should he respond other than with that miracle, you will want to very carefully understand where he is coming from, for your own good actions moving forward.
Email cc’g everyone with accusations (founded or unfounded) about you both meets usual protocol in many offices, as well as is unprofessional if the tone or outright accusation is wrong. I would highlight this in your conversation, because likely he received a good chew out from above, and he is very possibly covering his tracks behind him (a.k.a. CYA or self-preservation).
Let him know you are open to making improvements (tasks and relationships). Be objective, speak plainly but respectfully. Don’t interrupt each other. By the end of the meeting, you will know exactly what you must do next. Oh and document, document, document.
Dialogue means “two” and reciprocal,
Dear Run Over,
There’s a lot of this “throwing under the bus” going around. My guess is your boss, who I will describe as a wimp with power, is either too scared for the safety of their own job or trapped in a perfectionist mindset that keeps him unable to fess up when it’s his fault. It takes a mature person to admit when they are wrong. Apparently, your boss still has some growing up to do.
It is horrible when you are feeling less motivated for he overall mission of the company because your immediate boss is unable o act in a mature manner. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Surely, if you still want this job, you get that one person’s actions do not add up to the entire value of a company. Keep going.
My answer, be sure that you give your own answer to some of these email. It is not being defensive to either give your version of events or let the higher ups know critical pieces of information were missing when you were doing your piece of the work. Chances are your higher ups already know the problems with this manager. Give them the info they need to make the right decisions. Let them know that you are the scapegoat without actually pointing fingers. Just tell the truth with as little emotion as possible. Ask questions. Let your higher ups know you are trying to do the right thing.
Truth is the higher ups as probably less than impressed that these issues keep crossing their desk. Your boss needs to realize the sign of a good manager is the ability to help their team get things right. Training up underlings leads to a crack team where everyone is invested in the outcome. Pointing fingers and waiting to throw people under the bus every time something goes wrong leads to decreased productivity. Your team should not be working on pins and needles. If you are constantly waiting for the axe to drop, you’ll be questioning your work rather than really working to do your best. No one likes to be waiting to see whether there job will be threatened every time they make a mistake.
Face it, your boss is a wimp who doesn’t understand that the truly powerful empower the people who work for them for the best of all. He’s too focused on taking credit for everything done well and throwing you under the bus for anything wrong. Do your best work and let the higher ups know what’s going on—for your sanity and your job!
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