Managerial Meltdowns: When You Caused the Problem
Let’s face it: Nobody likes when a supervisor goes on a tirade. The atmosphere becomes tense, and workers often feel genuinely embarrassed or hurt. Deciding what to do in such situations can be difficult and can vary by what (if anything) provoked the outburst and the frequency of such incidents. For the next three days, we’ll be examining scenarios and talking about possible responses. Today, here’s food for thought if something you did triggered the bad reaction.
If you’re on the receiving end of a manager’s verbal lashing, one of the first things to determine is if you’ve given the manager a legitimate reason to be frustrated. (This isn’t saying her behavior is correct, but knowing your role in the situation may influence your response.) Did you miss a key deadline, turn in poor quality work, violate a company safety rule, or something of the like?
If the answer is “yes,” an apology is in order. Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, LLC, recommends saying something like, “I really let you down by (state your error, such as missing a deadline). I own that, I am very sorry for my lapse, and I will work to mitigate the damage by (state how you’ll repair, such as staying late to finish the project).”
Whether to add anything about the manager’s brusque behavior is up to you. If such treatment is rare for this person, you may wish to not say anything and assume the manager had a bad day and a momentary loss of self-control. If, however, such harsh communication happens frequently, it may be worth confronting the problem – just not in the same conversation as your apology.
“If you’ve messed something up, you need to fix that before your manager will be receptive to hearing constructive feedback,” Steere notes. After admitting your error and stating what you will do to correct it, she suggests adding a statement such as, “Once we’ve wrapped up this project, I would like to meet with you to discuss some observations I have that could help our team produce better business results.”
Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to handle such a meeting.