Have you ever had one of "those" managers? You know the type I mean "DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO"! The type of manager who thinks that people perform better under a fear based regime, the type of manager who thinks their employees are sub-standard and to be treated as such; the Manager from Hell (MFH)!
It's probably a good guess we've all been there! I used to work with a manager who thought her job wasn't done if she didn't have at least one staff member in tears a month (ok - well I don't know if that's what was going though her head, but as she stomped around the office yelling at people constantly, I am going to guess this was her intention!!).
The problem is that these managers don't realise the problems they cause - they think that they are unfortunate to attract a long line of useless staff members, when in reality they create an environment people can't wait to break free from!
Why is the manager from hell the way they are?
Firstly, it might help to think about where their behaviour is coming from! Most managers who have a "dictatorial" style are fairly narrow minded (a broad sweeping statement I know, but stick with me!). The dictator generally thinks there is only one way to achieve a goal, they are not interested in collaboration, they want uniformity and compliance. They are CERTAINLY not interested in knowing if you have a better solution!
Often the "Manager from Hell" is scared of being shown up by a subordinate and this drives a lot of their behaviour. In my experience, this type of manager doesn't actually understand processes or solutions aside from the tried and true methods that have "always" been used.
What sort of behaviours are common in a manager from hell?
The manager from hell is usually aggressive; they may yell or belittle. More often than not, they leave things until the last minute and then turn productivity upside down by insisting you drop everything to put their needs first. The manager from hell succeeds by undermining your self esteem. I'll bet you could right now name me some of your family, friends or colleagues who work for a bully and you wonder why they do it... Managers from hell are effective at disabling people, they think that they are keeping their staff under their thumb to get the behaviour they want, when in fact the employee becomes so immobilised that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and the employee indeed becomes a failure as they are too scared to do anything!
How to excel when your manager is trying to cut you down
So, if you are in the unfortunate position of currently working for a manager from hell, what can you do?
- get instructions in writing: MFH often make statements like "you know what I mean", don't be afraid to say "actually I'd just like to clarify to make sure I get it right";
- make sure you know what you are being measured by: you need to know your KPI's or time frame, or desired result - again like getting instructions in writing, know EXACTLY what you are working toward, in writing, so it is clear for everyone;
- don't get into a battle of wits: this type of manager DOES NOT like to be questioned and they certainly don't like their authority being undermined, if you have any suggestions, put them impassively in writing;
- keep a diary: at all times, know where you are in projects, so that if you are asked, you can state when you started, when it is due and where you are at. Keep all of your evidence and be able to document examples to support yourself;
- keep calm: this is the big one - MFH thrive on chaos! Keep calm, they want a battle to show their supremacy, don't get to this stage; finally
- protect your self esteem! if you are going to keep work for a MFH ensure you know how to keep your self esteem in tact, orto your advantage find another job - see the previous rule here though! Keep calm, leave when it suits you, not your MFH!!
If you are currently working under a MFH, find a way to debrief - your friends or family (NOT work colleagues!!). Remember that the manager from hell is waiting for you to stuff up, waiting for you to give them an opportunity to jump on you - use the above tricks and avoid the confrontation all together!!
Tell us about your MFH experiences!! How did you deal with it? What advice can you offer?