Friday, April 3, 2009

Abusive Managers: Confront or Walk-out?

Recently during my discussions in a forum, I got to know there were a number of people who quit their previous jobs due to an abusive manager. It’s not surprising. Really.

I believe the transition to a manager’s role is very similar to fresh-grads who get inducted into a new role. Quite often, companies hardly take the initiative to train managers and are in a hurry (Read: Retention) to promote employees to become managers. There’s a very small chance that the person getting promoted is an ideal fit for the role. Chances are that most of them learn the ropes while on the job. This means they develop managing styles that they feel work for them, purely based on their personality traits.

One such trait is that of an abusive manager. The bully who enters the room yelling, shouting, door-slamming, highly criticizing, foul mouthed and everything else that you didn’t expect!

It’s not hard to predict that abusive managers hurt team morale, productivity and could even cause emotional trauma. I’ve known employees who dreaded team meetings, one-to-one meetings, sending simple status reports and living in fear every minute while at work. Not surprisingly their personal lives got affected just as much. What would you do if you are stuck with such a manager? Do you confront them or keep your self-esteem intact & walk out?

Confrontation is great, only if you are on a self-less mission to improve someone else’s life. In this case your manager’s. I’m serious. Unless it’s a first time manager role, aren’t you convinced that his earlier team members might have tried some tactics of their own; confrontation being one of them. The reason that I give such a slim chance for this approach is because of wasted efforts that go into altering the manager’s personality trait. Generally, they are very bad at even receiving feedback. Criticism is then straight out of the window. Try your luck.

Bottom-line, you don’t need to take abuse at work. I understand it’s a tough call (especially in this market), but such abuse will take a heavy toll on both work & personal life. It will end up leaving you devastated. You need to take a tough call & decide if that paycheck is worth putting up with such a manager. Have faith in your skills & competency. Look for another job. Do your research about the new manager with the same rigor that you put into finding more about the new company.

When your time comes, just promise yourself that you won’t turn out to be an abusive manager. All you would need to do is ask for help to learn more about managing people.