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.