“How Do I Deal With With An Unhinged Boss?”

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    March 26, 2024 at 6:56 am #1128633

    From a LW:

    “The director I work under has been observed and witnessed being rude, disrespectful and hostile towards customers and staff alike. I spoke up but still at times the wrath of his disrespectfulness. It is compounded by his manner in dealing with customers that come to us expecting much better service and treatment. The other evening he had the cops called on one who was only stating his opinion on the unexpected charges his bill came out to. He was not disputing them, just stating his thoughts. The director overheard all of this and it escalated into a verbal war between the two. I was the only agent who was on duty during this time. Earlier in the day, I witnessed a similar incident and other days as well. This occurs often from what I hear from colleagues. The GM may be aware and if he is seems to be doing nothing about it. Some of my colleagues and I dread working when the director is onsite because of all of this.

    I know the easy thing to do is find another job, but while I am waiting for prospective employers invites for an interview, how does one deal with the current situration? How would you deal with it when you need the paycheck? On my days off I am too spent to do anything that brings me calm and joy like before and dealing with ongoing physical (nerve) conditions that have only worsened.”

    March 26, 2024 at 11:16 am #1128638

    Haha I have some experience with unhinged bosses.

    The only way I’ve seen these things get addressed is when someone sort of tangential can get in the ear of HR or Management and trigger an investigation. In my experience, senior management or HR needs to come to YOU and ask questions, and what they hear has to be pretty unanimous/widespread and egregious. At a small company I had a boss get fired right away under these circumstances. In my current role, an HR investigation happened and 6 months later my boss was included in a mass layoff.

    You do not want to be the one raising a complaint. In the first situation above, a young woman was leaving anyway, and was willing to mention the boss’s behavior in her exit interview. In the latest situation, a disgruntled member of our team was venting to someone on another team, and a member of THAT team brought it up in a 1:1 with my boss’s boss, who then came and asked us questions.

    You need to be sure that if questions are asked, the answers will be consistent, and you need to be willing to play a long game. I would strongly discourage you from lodging a complaint though. You need a puppet.

    March 26, 2024 at 11:19 am #1128639

    And meanwhile, keep your encounters with your boss brief, informative, factual, and friendly. Look up the BIFF method of communication.

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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.

    March 26, 2024 at 2:11 pm #1128641

    As someone who’s had a few unhinged bosses, keep your head down, don’t go scrambling off to fulfill their nonsense requests. Let them tantrum it out while you stand there quiet. If you can look bored or slightly dismissive, try that. They have these tantrums because they can’t control their emotions and they feel that this is the best way to tell someone they are unhappy and because they only react to extreme emotions. You can tell them that you’ve found massive fraud but they’ll ignore it until you scream it at them and freak the fuck out.

    The more calm you stay, the more frustrated they get. The more frustrated they get, the worse they behave until they either break something or realize that they are behaving like a tantrumming baby and stop because they are humiliated.

    Pretend you are an alien sociologist who has been dropped off on earth to learn our weird ways and you are observing. Like watching a silver backed ape in the zoo or fighting squirrels in the park.

    Miss MJ
    March 27, 2024 at 5:33 am #1128643

    So, you’re not going to change your boss or your company. There’s no “managing up” on someone who is so unhinged they’re getting into verbal altercations and calling the cops on clients. And in a company where someone can behave with this level of dysfunction and stay employed, it’s a signal there’s a lot more dysfunction and rot where that came from.

    Focus your energy on finding a new job, maintaining your health and protecting your mental space. Don’t tilt this windmill.

    While you’re job searching, you need to focus on just letting it go. This guy’s a nut. He’s always been a nut. He’s always going to be a nut. And his being a nut is Not Your Problem to fix. Breathe in, breathe out, do your job and move on.

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