JOHNSON! YOU LAZY SLOB, DID YOU GET THAT $&%#@ REPORT DONE YET? How often have heard that one? Well if you’re Johnson and you have a hostile boss, probably a few too many times. A recent study by Ohio State University found that employees with a hostile boss feel less like a victim when they fight back. The short of the study is that the majority of these employees did not feel their career was hurt nor did they feel like a victim when they reciprocated the hostile treatment.
It is not recommended that you snap back at your boss (or anyone for that matter). Keep in mind, this is a physiological/sociological review of human behavior in the workplace based off a small sampling group. For any employee (management or non-management) dealing with a hostile boss can be extremely stressful. As an employee, or even as a peer to the manager, how do you manage it?
As a peer to the hostile manager, approach them privately and talk with them objectively about the hostility. This has to be done delicately and managed appropriately. If it is impractical for you to approach the hostile manager directly, try talking with your HR department, or if you have a good relationship with the Hostile Manager’s boss, talk with them. There are many approaches, but remember to focus on the results of the negative behavior and avoid personal attacks.
If you are the unfortunate employee, it can be much harder to deal with your hostile boss. First, take a deep breath, then remember that whatever it is, don’t take it personally. The next step is to take an honest evaluation of your work quality. Make sure your ducks are in a row and ensure that you are doing everything you can with your position. Often (but not always) a manager becomes hostile towards an employee because they are an underperformer and the manager doesn’t know how to motivate the employee appropriately. Some final steps you can take is to schedule a time to sit down with the manager and talk about your work and what you can do to improve, then talk about what motivates you and the negative results that comes from the hostile behavior.
Keep in mind that no boss should be hostile and the best thing for an organization to do is to either train the manager on how to interact with the employees or remove them from the organization.
As an employee or a manager, what have you done to deal with hostile bosses?