"Loud and angry doesn't make you right. It just means that you are loud and angry"
Have you ever worked for or with someone like that – a shouter? Someone who felt that just by force of will – or decibel level - they would get their way? That they would get you to do what they want, simply because they said so? Some managers are like that. It’s not so much what they say, but how they say it – usually with a scowling facial expression that coordinates well with a loud, blustery voice.
I am who am, so do what I say.
Those who rely on their title, their loud voice, or other trappings of power to force compliance by subordinates or colleagues do so simply because they can, and because they're rarely able to gain an audience any other way. It’s like a parent who, when lacking more effective strategies finally blurts out to misbehaving kids, “because I said so.”
Is that who you have to face every day? How much personal or professional respect do you have for that manager? Chances are it's not much. If these managers had something useful to say, something important, or even reasonable, they wouldn’t be shouting.
Leadership isn’t about shouting. Intimidation is. It’s not what effective management is about.
Painting the picture
Let's see if you recognize other aspects of the manager that no one likes.
> Doesn’t listen to anyone: Tends to always have the answers, giving lip service to contrary opinions and acting as if their mind was made up before the discussion. Meetings are usually a process of going through the motions.
> Surrounds themselves with “yes people”: Holds “discussion” meetings, but typically with hand-picked subordinates who tend to agree with the manager's opinion. Contrary voices are discouraged through passive resistance or by simply being ignored.
> Quick to take credit: When things go well, they are quick to point out who was in charge, whose idea it was, who was right all along. The word "I" is used a great deal.
> Equally quick to place blame: When things don’t go quite so well, they're equally quick to disengage themselves from responsibility, often distracting attention by pointing elsewhere. Subordinates become useful scapegoats.
> Plays the political game: Focuses time and energy to become well connected in the organization, aligning themselves with perceived “winners” among senior management. Their own opinions become fluid and secondary to the support of their political mentors.
> Is all about “optics”: Displays a tendency to avoid time and energy on personal core values and beliefs; instead is all about what “looks good” to senior management. Culprits are especially concerned with own standing among key leaders, and are often seen as followers within the leadership circle.
> Subordinates are expendable: Cannot be trusted to support subordinate development or decision-making. They're more likely to throw subordinates under the bus when results, procedures or activities are challenged.
When I first considered the personality traits described above a name or two came to mind from my own career experiences. How about you? Think of someone? Someone you're working for today?
When you don’t like someone, when you lack professional respect, what happens in the workplace? Do you help them? Or do you stand by and let the chips fall where they might? Do you let them fail? Do you find yourself still performing at your usual 110%, or perhaps your efforts have slackened off a bit?
What to do?
In my experience I've come to realize that you're not going to change these people. They're set in their ways, comfortable with their management style and likely feel that they are in fact successful managers. They could also be protected from above. Thus you can't talk to these people, never mind get them to address personality flaws.
Complaining to HR is often a fruitless exercise, as their hands could be tied as well. And as a whistleblower your career prospects within that organization could be negatively affected.
So you either swallow twice and live with it, or you exit the organization as soon as you can.
Meanwhile, it's my fervent hope that when you look at yourself in the mirror you don't see examples of "the boss from hell" staring back.
Because I don't want to work for you. I don't want to work with you.
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image, "Fractalius Kitty," by peasap