9 Strategies For Dealing With A Passive Aggressive Boss
Are you dealing with a passive aggressive boss in work? Do they aggressively change something you were working on, but passively address it with you or your co-workers? Here is an example. Manager decides to change an employee's responsibilities but decides to tell others before telling the person involved. Or another one. Manager knows there is an issue but avoids it for weeks, hoping the issue will fix itself, rather than being the leader and taking care of the challenge quickly and decisively. In a passive-aggressive type of manager the decision making is not very clear or concrete. If you have reported to someone like this, you know how awful this can be. I have had a few of these bosses and it was the most frustrating time I have ever had in my career. I am seeing more and more of this in today’s corporate culture and it is disturbing. I am wondering if any manager is being truly "trained" to be an effective leader of people. It is strange, middle management is passive-aggressive but in the board room they yell at each other. Go figure. I think a bit more reading of good leadership books are in order. My newest favorite is The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy. In my research of this topic, I found some great articles and resources. Here is what psychologist Neil Warner says about these types of managers. Notes in () are my additions.
"There are some characteristics of a passive aggressive manager, which in present times look like the necessary tools for survival of the meanest. These tactics sometimes get confused within the authority aura that higher ups exude, but after some time there is no more denial possible. Your own reactions are telling you to watch out and not be surprised by some backstabbing and dirty tricks. Are you familiar or have you been in the receiving end of someone of the following 'nice attitudes?'
Neil couldn’t have listed these any better. Have you seen these? If so, how did you react? How did it make you feel? Generally known as a high energy, get things done kind of person, this type of behavior in my manager, drove me to shut down. I became very unproductive and eventually started to show my own passive-aggressive behavior which is NOT the best way to handle this type of manager. So what is? There is not a cookie cutter solution for every situation but here are some strategies that can help.
- The boss that takes full credit from the team’s work thus sabotaging employee advancement; (and moral)
- The boss keeps complete control over the project; (and changes their mind every other day about the direction of the project or the process to be followed)
- The boss restricts necessary information for the worker to do a good job;
- Planning for meetings with the employee and showing up later or never;
- Overriding the worker’s authority with his team;
- Criticizing an employee in public, making him feel worthless;
- Exploiting an employee’s particular talent;
- Withholding employee recognition and praise;
- Playing another worker against old time employee;
- Micro-managing decisions which are in the employee power to do."