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Brain eating boss...

I am having an issue with my boss. His designation is OPERATIONS MANAGER and he thinks too much about himself. He always passes nasty comments about the company general manager and the CEO. I am fed up of hearing all these on a daily basis, but has no other option than hearing since he is my boss... He keeps on eating my brain and pokes his nose into whatever issues possible. Due to his this kind of attitude many times I am put into difficult situations in front of top level management and in front of customers as well. I am now planning to find a new job or to request for a transfer. Can someone suggest me any solution through which we can solve this tactically or else my frustrations will kill me....


(CFO) |

Bad bosses can turn a dream job into a nightmare. It's worse when the job is just pedestrian. It's absolutely awful when they slap the golden hand cuffs on you. Something that bad bosses frequently do to gain control over you.

Thirty five years of experience through at least that many bosses has taught me that, one needs to assess the situation unemotionally.

If there is little to no chance that the boss is going anywhere; if others are also aware of the issue and nothing has changed; if there has been significant turnover attributable to the bad boss; then dedicate all of your energy to finding a ticket out of there as soon as you can. Don't burn bridges but, don't look back either. Even walking away with nothing if you can pull that off financially might be better than staying and destroying your health your reputation and risking getting labeled as part of the problem should reform ever occur.

Life is too short to tolerate the bullies and misfits in the world who make it into supervisory positions and make other's lives miserable while staying below the radar of upper least until some disaster occurs and they "suddenly find out" that something has been going on. Experience has taught me that bad managers are more common than most in management are willing to admit.

Related to this is one of my great peaves about management and HR training. And, this is something we've seen on this forum at times. That is, the assumption in such management training that the organization is always right and that it is always the employee that is "bad". Bad behavior occurs at all levels of an organization and, when it is a bad manager, it is the organization that is at fault for not eliminating the problem and allowing the bad manager to alienate good employees.

There is often nothing you can do about it except leave. The most frustrating companies I have ever worked for are the ones where they shoot the messenger rather than fully review the issues brought to their attention. This is more common than not. No one likes to hear bad news. Especially if it requires them to take action that might be uncomfortable.

(Senior Accountant) |

So, Leaving the organization is the only choice... Thanks for the reply...

Jim Schwartz
Title: Corporate financial advisor
Company: Wabash Financial Strategies
(Corporate financial advisor, Wabash Financial Strategies) |

Leaving is not the only choice. However, unless the behavior of the boss is experienced directly or observed regularly by many others, leaving or transferring may be your best option.

If you have been placed in a difficult position with executive management and customers, someone above your boss should be noticing and/or asking questions about these occasions. If they are not, perhaps management skills or the will to make hard choices are lacking higher up the ladder too.

Do you have a periodic discussion about your performance with your boss? If not, I would be inclined to call a meeting with him for that very purpose. Ask if there are specific things he wants you to improve. The basis for that question is your statement that he seems to be meddling regularly in your work. Listen carefully to his responses and take notes. He could be unhappy with or lack confidence in your work for a particular reason (which might not be accurate or fair). He may also lack confidence in his managerial skills or feel threatened or unappreciated by those above and projects this onto you. Or, he simply may not know better.

You didn't say whether you like your job, except for the difficult boss. If you do, then see whether some direct but respectful communication with him can improve the situation. If things don't change, you always have the option to do something else.

(Senior Accountant) |

Again the issue is like, the operations manager is the brother-in-law of the general manager (I came to know this only two days back). So if I do something, again I will put myself into trouble.

Gregg Kimmer
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Humana
(Director of Finance, Humana) |

Here's my advice.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Have you considered confronting him and telling him it makes you uncomfortable and that you just wanted to be transparent with him. Many times when someone's bad behavior is pointed out to them they may not realize they are doing it and will change. Not always, but I have witnessed it happen.

If he respects you enough he will appreciate the fact that you are being open and honest with him. If he doesn't and continues the behavior than you know what you have to do. But unless you make a move to confront it you don't know if things can change.

(Associate) |

I can see the logic behind confronting him, but I've found that many times people behaving badly do not see a reason to change. To them, they are the ones that are right and everyone else is wrong.
I see the boss keeps poking his nose into things. Ever think of sending progress reports to him? If you proactively let him know what's going on, you may stop some of the nosiness. Ask for feedback and then when he sees you following his recommendations, you may just get an important ally, one with connections.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I would recommend looking at the evaluation process and improving it to include a bottom-top feedback mechanism rather than concentrating on the "person".

(Tax Manager) |

I have a similar story to tell and add some advice. I agree with most of the prior advice but the bottom line is : If the higher-ups circle the wagons to protect their VP of senior manager you really have no choice but to leave. Very little changes after this happens. Here's my story:

After starting in the company, with the mandate to improve an underperforming department, my eventual manager hired someone from his prior job to be his number 2. After a year and a half I was hired in a position reporting to the number 2 because I had been out of the profession a couple of years (I was more experienced and effective than number 2. I understood and accepted this. That all changed after my first couple of weeks when my manager took me to the side and told me that he was going to force number 2 into leaving by hounding her and constantly complaining about her work. He said that I should not worry about him acting this way towards me because he was just doing this to get her to leave.

The next few weeks were horrible as I watched the manager nit pick his way through everything this woman did while deriding her skills and competency to the point she would fight to hold back tears at her desk. She also thought that I was somehow related to this turn of events and wouldn't speak with me. Being new, and eager to keep my new job, I didn't mention this to anyone. She eventually found a new position and left the company and I was promoted to the number 2 position. She leveled claims of abuse and mis-treatment against the manager but, being in a right to work state, nothing was done. Right to work generally means that the employee has the right to leave an employer without cause with acceptable notice while an employer also has the right to terminate an employee without cause with notice. After this my boss vowed to never mention her by name or to ever speak to her pr give her a reference.

Over the next few years my boss would have run-ins with a few others in the company which resulted in many individuals being unwilling to deal directly with him. This put me in the position of being the main communicator of our little department to the rest of the company.

I did well in my new position and my boss and I had a good relationship where we played golf every few weeks on weekends and lunched together once a week or so. I received "exceeding" reviews my whole time with the company. It was around year 4 when he started thinking everyone was out to get him and became secretive and withheld information that I should have known. He failed to divulge some less than stellar results and mistakes. He started attending meetings that I should have attended and doing tasks that had been mine which confused me because if I had been doing something wrong he could have told me and I would have corrected my actions. Now he was making comments and complaints on anything I gave him or did with others in the office. I was informed about this when executives and peers asked why I was no longer in these meetings? The situation now started to affect my work and how I went about my job.

Then, one day, he called me into his office and read me the riot act, cursing at me, calling me names, and making statements about my work that had not been true. He yelled that I would never get his position if he should leave because I wasn't smart enough and was incompetent. I was amazed that in this day and age this type of treatment was still out there. I was 52 when this happened and I hadn't see this type of treatment in the workplace for 25 or so years. If it did happen an apology shortly followed.

Fortunately (or so I thought) I had seen this coming and had notified HR and the executive team of my ongoing experiences and observations.I took copious notes highlighting his actions and the inaccuracy of his claims. The severity of the attack had me reeling and I was extremely upset. The executive team (CFO and CEO/Chairman) didn't pay much attention to my claims even while knowing I was a well respected and productive employee. They said he was a good and productive employee that had saved them money (alot due to my contributions) and had no reason to reprimand or fire him based on his actions towards an underling. This was very, very, disappointing.

After about two weeks of my boss not speaking to me (and not offering an apology) he called me into his office to level some new untrue claim at me. I had had enough and told him he was an ass-hole, and was not trusted or respected by co-workers and that I had bufferred his poor social skills and brought respectability to the department. There may have been a few F bombs included as I reached my breaking point.

After a day or so of uneasyness I was called into HR and was told that I should apologize if I expected to keep my job. I refused. I was the one who should be getting an apology for the lashing and poor treatmnent that I had received. After a coupe of days and another confrontation I went to HR and said I will leave and presented some terms (after a labor attorney informed me that the company had no obligation to give me anything). I was presented with the standard severance package and left the building. Some say I was lucky but the CFO and CEO knew my boss was an asshole and they probably felt they had to offer this at a minimum.

I do not regret doing what I did, I feel I was right to defend myself but I know that my retaliation did me no favors. I did a great job for five years and have no references to show for it. It took me 2 1/2 years to get back to a good position, at the level of my former boss, and I'll let my current boss do whatever he wants, as long as I keep my job. Being unemployed and not having a current reference made finding a new job more difficult.

Another person was hired to replace me and it took her a couple of weeks to seek me out and share her already accumulating experiences with my old boss although she is still there two years on.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

Terrible to say but the writing was on the wall when he told you he was driving an employee out the door early into your tenure with the company so you could take the job. Why didn't the guy just term that person instead of riding them out the door? (which a few years later it seems he did to you)

You also point out that they had a prior relationship from another company, yet that did not stop him from breaking her down to resign. That is contrary to a relationship built on trust and mutual respect.

Going back to the original post, after a while people come to understand which execs can and which execs cannot keep a team together. The microscope closes in on them. Don't protect these piss-poor managers by hanging around longer than you need to.

(Agent) |

I would suggest the being honest approach, at least on the comments. If he ignores your request not to speak about the CEO and Manager in a derogatory manner in front of you, give him a warning and then simply walk away. If he feels protected by his familial relationship, then look for a job, but standing up for yourself is not wrong here. And if it causes a confrontation take it to the CEO. (As a safety net, maybe try to record the bad mouthing on your phone.) Journal the incidents. If others are witnesses, ask if they will sign off on the incident in your journal, or at the very least write their names down in the account entry. Most of the time people behave badly because they believe no one will stop them. If you stay silent about it bothering you why should he stop doing it.

For me the issue is with the CEO. It is a different situation. He has no concept of time or a schedule. He says things just to make people happy, and then doesn't follow through. Very frustrating. When I see it happening, I call him on it. It doesn't change, but I do call him on it. If the occasion arises that he gets indignant and says just do it, I remind him that he did not hire me to be a yes man. It helps that he knows and trusts that I am looking out for his and the company's best interests. The company doing well is good for me too. For me, not agreeing to suck it up because he owns the company works. I demand that he treat me with respect, he doesn't always, but if I didn't expect it, he never would.

(Controller & Operations Manager) |

The CEO in my case did not protect me against an abusive boss. I was on the CEO's personal advisory committee, but when the boss got sneaky and let me go without the normal chain of command, the CEO didn't want to make waves and stuck by him.

(CEO) |

My gut reaction, like many others, is leave. However, here are some alternatives.

Wait. In a functional organization if you are correct that your boss is dysfunctional, the organization will figure it out and replace him/her. Because you work directly for him/her you see everything first, and it will frustrate you how long it takes for everyone else to see it, but eventually they will.

In your case, this sounds like it won't work because the company is dysfunctional too. But my broader point is if you like the company, think it is generally a great place to work, and has a great market opportunity, the best strategy is often to wait-out a bad boss. Great companies are hard to find. Don't leave one because you work for a person who might not last here 6 more months.

Transfer. In this strategy you signal no problems at all and simply ask to be transferred into something-new because you think it is a great opportunity. This only works before you signal conflict, because once you do some people invariably see you as wanted to escape-from thing X as opposed to go-to thing Y.

Confront. Sometimes people are unaware of obnoxious behavior and because everyone is afraid to tell them, it can be hard for them to find out. If you carefully put the offensive behavior on the table, you give the boss a chance to fix it. However, you can't put this Genie back in the bottle. If it goes wrong, and the boss is as you describe, you can expect direct/indirection retaliation. I often tell reports in skip-level meetings that "you can go up against your boss, but your odds of winning are probably 10%."

Dual track. If you like the company but cannot stand the boss, and believe the company values you, then go find another job and resign before accepting the new position. This way you have leverage when you put your issues on the table and a backup plan if the company doesn't respond as you hope.

Be careful. There are a lot of semi-legalistic words (e.g., abusive, derogatory) in this thread and I want to remind you that incompetence is not illegal. Yes, certain things are illegal, but don't make the mistake of believing that just because you work for a "bosshole" that you have a strong legal case against the company.

(Senior Accountant) |

Thank you all for your valuable advises and opinions. He has been terminated by the management for unprofessional attitude, manipulated purchases and inefficient management. It is not professional to be happy at anyone's bad luck. But honestly, I feel relaxed now! The management has put me in charge now, may be for the time being.

Thanks to all!!!

(Controller & Operations Manager) |

Congrats on a great outcome--your chance to shine.

(CFO) |

So. How did management suddenly become aware of the bad boss' traits and activities?

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Management is the problem. The Bosshole was only a symptom. Beware that you do not become the next one. I still recommend leaving.

(Senior Accountant) |

@Valerie: Yes, in this company management is the problem. Their inefficiency causes too much delay and frustrations to the employees. Still I am trying for a better opportunity. I will surely switch this company once I receive a good offer. Thank you all for your valuable advises.


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