Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 1


If we can admit that there is evil in the world, it is not a stretch to believe that some of that evil resides in the style of many managers. Chances are that if you have been in the workforce for any real length of time you have had the unfortunate privilege to have had one of these evil managers as the very person you report to, or somewhere up the food chain. Knowing that these people exist in the workplace is one thing, but dealing with them is a whole other challenge.

The first thing to understand is the difference between incompetence and being evil. There are an awful lot of incompetent managers spewing out stupid and sometimes illegal statements. Because they were hired or promoted into a management or supervisory role without the right training, they simply lack the skills and knowledge to prevent saying and doing the wrong things. These people may be trying to do a decent job but sometimes they don’t know what they should know in order to manage people correctly.

Let’s make sure we understand incompetence well before we contrast an evil personality. An incompetent manager will make statements or set policies that are in direct violation of Federal and State laws, and company policy.

Incompetent managers will at times quote a policy incorrectly and tell an employee they must do something they know is against policy and the employee knows that they just get it in writing to have proof later when it gets caught. Employees have learned that human resources are usually their go to relief against incompetence in getting protection from a manager.

Yet, the current Millennial Generation has been the best demonstrator of dealing with incompetent management because they have no problem voting with their feet. There tolerance is very short, and rather than argue or struggle with an incompetent manager, they simply quit and try somewhere else. To the older generations, this is frustrating, but as a Baby Boomer myself, I applaud their willingness not to put up with the incompetence.


Evil is Incompetence with a Motive

Many times evil managers are also incompetent. They do and say things that are against the law but are also in positions of shielding themselves from other authorities. They might have incompetent human resource people or other management that are scared to confront their behavior. I’ve seen evil managers so high up the food chain that they simply feel accountable to no one.

But evil is better described as motive. These jewels of management drip superiority, hatred and revulsion for others. Some are driven to evil through a need to be all powerful and they sincerely enjoy making other people submissive to them and controlling other lives. Think about how your employment choice dictates your life. The type of work you do either aligns with your passion or it does not.   Your job either compensates you enough to pay for your needs or it barely keeps you alive. If you lost your job you might also lose your home. An evil manager wants to control you and often does this by the simple act of holding termination over your head anytime you might disagree with them.

But in my years of working with some of the better examples of evil managers, the one most common trait they are outstanding at is manipulation. They want their way all the time. They want to be seen as being right all the time. So the easiest way to reach these goals is to manipulate others. If you have ever been verbally crucified by a manager to the point you want to fold up and quit, don’t be surprised if the goal was to force you to resign. While illegal, it works more times than not.

A manipulator knows what to say and do to each and every target to get under their skin. And sometimes the manipulation takes the form of the opposite traits and comes off as warm and fuzzy. Either way, evil managers are more like puppeteers, and they are a challenge to deal with. In these cases it is easier to quit than to fight, and my friends the evil manager knows it.

Next week I am going to discuss ways to deal with the evil managers in your world. Maybe you are working for one of these people now, or maybe your time in hell is over. The sad reality is that there are a lot of evil managers out there, and I want to equip you to deal with the next one and win.

Don’t Drink The Kool Aid


It might be easy to assume that because we are in the middle of a Presidential Election Cycle that encouraging you not to drink the Kool Aid is about not believing all the spin generated by the campaigns or the national media. While this would certainly fit the scenario, drinking the Kool Aid also refers to accepting what you are told by anyone no matter what you personally believe.

In the corporate world, there are a lot of managers who believe their personal power comes from their ability to influence others to think and act a certain way. When an employee questions the thinking of these kinds of managers or even just the validity of the statements, all hell can break out. So to keep the peace, employees learn to drink the Kool Aid to avoid conflicts.

Now enter someone like me. I’ve never been a Kool Aid drinker. I don’t like the actual beverage, and I don’t follow the crowd well. I feel I have a brain for a reason, and along with using it to keep my body functioning, I use it to think about what is said to me. When something is untruthful, deceptive, or manipulative, I have never been one to go along to keep the peace. Has this made my life difficult, you bet!

I worked for a company once that drinking water, when the Kool Aid was being served, didn’t earn one the necessary points to succeed. I had a boss that was constantly trying to get me to play the game, drink up, and serve the Kool Aid. I was a constant frustration to this man because my work provided “valuable success to the company” but my inability to drink what was being served was creating problems. It was when he linked my desire to drink water rather than Kool Aid to “not being a team player”, that I resigned.

I am about to celebrate 26 years in the learning development profession. I was asked by an individual that wants to move out of human resources into training full-time, what is the one thing I would recommend he learn how to do. For some reason I blurted out, “Never Drink the Kool Aid” because it often is hiding the real issues that are preventing optimal performance. Our jobs in training are about preparing people to perform their job, and if we are not in touch with reality, we cannot prepare them to succeed. We would be missing vital skill development if we are not basing all decisions on what is real.

Bottom line, it won’t be easy at times to avoid drinking the Kool Aid, but you will earn your own self-respect, and the respect of others that need you to be rooted in reality. As an example, it was once the calling of the national media to be the voice of reality because people wanted the truth. I am betting that people need you and your profession to also be honest a truthful. The only reason that Kool Aid is being served is because we have people willing to drink it. Maybe it is time we all switch to a glad of water the next time we are thirsty.

Managers Avoiding Conversations


Instead of talking with employees the old fashion way with your vocal chords, managers are increasing their use of email and texting as the preferred way of communicating with employees. While it may be quicker, it is causing more problems than the time being saved.

I believe the real reason for typing and not talking is not because of the time saving feature, but rather the avoidance of conflict. You have less feedback, both verbal and non-verbal when you type. There is less of an issue in tone, and yet you also lose the ability to add tone at a level it can be understood. Typists will tell you that tone is possible, and I agree, but it can more easily be interpreted incorrectly too in the written word.

When it comes to giving directions or feedback, verbal communication goes a long way in creating clearer understanding. If there are concerns, or uncertainties, verbal communication can afford a quicker resolution too.

But many will ask, what about documentation? Written communication does document feedback. But try documenting after the verbal conversation instead. Try, “as per our conversation today about being on time for work, we agreed………”

And too much documentation can come back to bite you too. You may be a real nag of a manager, so verbal communication can be a blessing for you, when the opposite is 20 emails in 4 days about a single topic.

A balance in the use of verbal and written communication from manager to employee should be used to build rapport, and get feedback. Using written for times you want to document something can be beneficial, but after you have allowed feedback. The best way to assess your current use is to evaluate your issues. The more issues, the more you need to go back to verbal communications.

Just my two cents for the week………………