Handling an Egomaniac Manager or Avoiding to Be One
“Exposure to workplace bullying has been argued to be a severe social stressor and a more crippling and devastating problem for affected individuals than the effects of all other work‐related stressors put together,” states a research published in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.
If you agree with it, take a moment to imagine the extent of this stress if the bullying gets induced from none other than your own manager, or rather, if you are one of those – taking a toll on the mental peace of your team members by dictating your terms to them, and possibly manifesting a behavior identical with that of a narcissist.
As an example, I would share an instance from one of my friends, whom I met at a social gathering a couple of weeks ago. She looked a bit sad. As I enquired, she got a bit emotional talking about her constraints at the workplace. She said her recent workplace challenge was handling her manager’s irrational behavior – who is otherwise highly talented and inspiring – but awful at mentoring and handling the team. Problems that person (her manager) showed up with, included her inability to listen when any of her team members tried to speak to her, dismissive approach to new ideas, self-boasting and escalation of small issues. The consequence to this behavior was that everybody in her team began to pray for a savior in situations when talking to her became a mandate.
Now, this was her side of the story. Think from the perspective of this woman, who is the manager. Being unaware of her derailments, she possibly assumes that none in her team is capable of matching pace with her ideas and intellect and hence, she is mostly left alone handling all complex deliverables by herself. She is unintendedly killing delegation and inducing an environment which is toxic for both – the team and herself.
Let’s try to dig deep and solve this perplexity, we divide the problem into two area and identify the solutions.
Situation 1: When you’re Entrapped with a Self-Boasting Manager
Watch Out if your Relationship with your Manager Gets Toxic
There are signs that help you identify whether the toxification has started to creep up if your manager:
• Often demeans your action
• Gets to micromanaging
• Steals credits
• Doesn’t involve you in any decision
• Doesn’t want to listen and becomes aggressive
• Avoids interacting with you
• Doesn’t provide a constructive feedback
Any of these behaviors is not healthy and it will eventually cause dysfunctionality in the team. You need to give yourself sometime but don’t hang in for too long. If you do, you will soon be disengaged and it might begin to spill through other areas of your life.
But before you jump the gun, such as changing your job, or reporting against the manager, try to resolve the conflict with a healthy dialogue try to understand what is really bothering him or is it your behavior that causes the issue.
Self-Evaluation is the Starting Point
This is about self-awareness. It entails knowing what you feel in this given situation – an introspection of your behavior is the key. It is very easy to blame and see things from one perspective. Being self-aware is imperative and any assumptions that you may be holding up could lead to misinterpretation or overreaction.
I am not trying to advocate that your manager’s unacceptable behavior is caused due to your mistakes. But this serves as a perfect opportunity for you to rule out any oddities in your own behavior. This reality check comes through a self-awareness.
One way could be to face the fear head on and asking “what areas you need to improve at, in his opinion about your behavior,” for instance.
Its all about balance, talk to your manager using the key skill of self-expression and empathy. This can be the toughest part. So, maintaining objectivity and not immersing into negative emotions is important. When you discuss the issue, always cite examples to help him understand. If you get emotional while talking, chances are, you won’t be able to make your point. Always bring out why you are driving that conversation – your objective is to clear the air because you value him. Once finish talking, your job is to listen carefully. When he is talking, you must not interrupt. If your truly empathize and intentionally listen and ask the right questions, as Daniel Goleman says too, “without listening clearly, you cannot have empathy,” you win back empathy too.
Seek Help or Take a Step
This step is the last resort when none of the above efforts work for you or you rather see these back-firing through adverse reactions from you manager. Seeking help from the HR team is one of the better things to do. If it is affecting your mental well-being, after you have tried every possible options, then consider either a change of department or organization. Suffering in silence is not a good idea.
Situation 2:If you are Unconsciously Turning into a Noxious Manager
When you are at the other side of the court, chances are, you would not get a direct feedback from anyone. In such cases, self-awareness can become a reality-check, so watch the signs that indicate your easy submission to narcissism or dictatorship:
• Fit of rage resulting into explosion
• Over-indulgence in proving the other person wrong and you being right
• Rigidity and disagreement with everything
• Lack of social awareness
• Poor listening skill
• Sulking and excessive discussion of problems
• Mostly talks high of himself
What Should you Do?
If you realize any of the above happening with you and you feel trapped in your own unwanted behaviors, you need to sort it step by step:
Your solution lies in being a bit more self-aware. Within that, you start by identifying if people in your team begin to avoid you, there are chances that your inflated ego or anger is one of the reasons for it. It’s not bad to feel angry but if your expression starts harming the other person then you must take a pause and think. Your anger should help in constructive and not destructive outcomes. A loss control of anger often works against you. In addition to causing a severe disengagement in your team, these triggers can soon start telling on your health and undermine your innate qualities, capabilities and hence, defeat the very purpose of your job, regardless of your profound skillset.
A dig at self-awareness at both the ends will help you determine your individual contribution to the problem and bring an opportunity to resolve it.
If you are looking for any help or guidance around self-awareness and enhancing your emotional intelligence or you’d be interested to know what more you could do to remove the toxification of your relationships with your Manager or your team, this is an area we can help. Connect with us here firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, Vol. Oct. 2010