Managerial Meltdowns: Confronting the Boss about Tirades
As noted in yesterday’s post, a manager who goes on a tirade can make the office an uncomfortable place to be. While the prospect of confronting the person about the behavior may seem daunting, silence may not be the best solution.
“Lashing out verbally tends to cause people to shut down,” says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, LLC. “It damages relationships. Employees may stop contributing ideas or raising concerns, and they may even start avoiding the manager because they don’t want to be on the receiving end of a manager’s caustic tirade. This type of employee ‘withdrawal’ can actually damage business results further.”
If an explosive incident seems out of the blue – meaning it doesn’t appear to have an obvious trigger and doesn’t happen often – it may be worth just privately pulling the manager aside, asking if everything is OK, and letting the person know you’re willing to help if needed. But if rants are becoming the norm, it may be time to say more.
If you decide to talk with your manager about his or her harsh communication, Steere recommends framing the issue as something that’s affecting your group’s business performance. You might try something like, “I can really see how important it is to you that your team delivers good business results. And I can also see something that’s getting in the way of that goal. May I have permission to speak candidly?”
Once granted permission, try citing a few examples and asking if he notices how he raises his voice in such situations. If he admits to the behavior, talk about the impact -- such as people shutting down or being afraid to volunteer ideas – and see where the conversation goes. Chances are he might see how changing his behavior can lead to what both of you ultimately want – a less stressful, more productive workplace.
Tomorrow: Dealing with a boss who doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong.