Reply To: “How Do I Deal With With An Unhinged Boss?”

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March 26, 2024 at 12:16 pm #1128640

I only had one unhinged boss. He was always angry and carried a baseball bat. I wrote about an incident with him on here years ago, actually. My situation was different — I’d been accused of bullying a junior employee because I told her to let me know if she needed help or more time to complete work after she missed a deadline — and my boss got HR involved. I assume they were documenting me/my behavior as a CYA move should they have decided to terminate me. My solution was to keep my head down, though, while I looked for another job. Like you, I needed the paycheck. Things were quiet after that meeting with HR but I was documenting certain things of my own by forwarding them to my personal email. After about six months, I left for my current company. I think you should keep your head down while you look for something new. You can tell HR on the way out if you want to. I suspect HR knew my unit was in bad shape already when I had to meet with them… they did not care, but I heard that about six months after I left, enough people complained about how uncomfortable my old boss made everyone because he wouldn’t stop talking about how young his new girlfriend after his second divorce was that he was reprimanded. He also announced to his direct reports that he’d started therapy. So.

To deal with the chaos while I searched for a new job, I set some pretty firm boundaries to keep my work and personal life separate. It was the kind of job where emails were sent pretty much around the clock and everything was made to feel urgent when it really wasn’t. I’d be courteous, friendly, and a hard worker on the job, but I started toggling off my work emails on my phone during off hours and vacation. I gave myself a hard stop in the evenings. I had a routine outside of work that I enjoyed, including regular exercise. When I started applying for new jobs, getting interviews — even if they didn’t lead to an offer — made me feel like my situation was only temporary, which helped my mindset.

At my current company, we have a foundation with a handful of employees. Everyone is employed by us but they run independently from us. Their last executive director was problematic and seldom showed up to work. When the foundation’s most junior employee left to go to grad school several years ago, she let HR know on her way out what was going on. This was the beginning of the investigation that led to the executive director getting fired. So, some companies will actually look into what departing employees have to say when they’re outing a supervisor for bad behavior.