SHOW DATE: MAY 22, 2013
One of the biggest viral videos of 2013 is the episode of Kitchen Nightmares featuring Amy’s Baking Company. If you haven’t seen it, watch it NOW. We guarantee it will make you incredibly happy. Why? Because the restaurant’s owners, Amy and Samy, are the two worst bosses EVER. And why should that make you happy? Because you don’t work for them. And you never will. And you’ve just dodged the biggest bullet in the world when it comes to Monster Bosses.
But if you do have a Monster Boss—someone almost as bad as Amy and Samy (as hard as that is to imagine)—we want you to know what to do. Everyone has worked for a terrible manager at some point in their careers, but a real Monster Boss can have truly negative impact on your life. The stress you experience at work will begin to affect the rest of your life, jeopardizing your relationships, happiness, and health. And at the end of the day, a job isn’t worth all that.
But all Monster Bosses are not created equal, and how you handle a Monster Boss depends on what kind of Monster Boss you have. So, let’s look at the three kinds of Monster Bosses and how you should handle each:
1. The CRAZY YELLING AGGRESSIVE MONSTER BOSS. This is Amy from Amy’s Baking Company. This boss has a terrible temper, robust vocal chords, and will never be satisfied by your performance. She’s confrontational, lashes out at you constantly, and is probably regarded as “crazy” around the workplace.
What’s important to know about this Monster Boss is that it’s NOT ABOUT YOU. This Monster Boss is deeply insecure. She’s stressed. She’s probably under great pressure from an outside source, whether her own Monster Boss or something unseen (financial or personal issues). In other words, this Monster Boss isn’t responding to anything you’re doing wrong, she’s coping with her own demons. And that means you can’t take it personally (even when she calls you a “moron”).
Once you understand that, you should see how to cope with this boss: Trying to fight back will be like throwing gasoline on the fire. So instead, take it down a notch. When the boss gets emotional, stay calm and cool. When the boss makes it personal, keep it professional. When the boss yells at you, don’t yell back. Simply apologize—even if it’s not your fault. These tactics will keep your boss grounded and feeling in control. And over time, she’ll stop yelling because she’ll realize how crazy she looks. Sure, this strategy might bruise your ego a bit (who wants to apologize when it wasn’t their fault), but so what—would you rather be right or be happy?
2. THE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MONSTER BOSS. This is Samy. This boss won’t yell and scream. Instead, he will be manipulative and underhanded in ways you may not even see. Instead of confronting you, he will tell someone else about your flaws. Instead of screaming, he will write you off and start ignoring you. And when you’ve crossed this person too many times, he will slowly and quietly do whatever he can to dismantle your career from the inside-out.
The best way to handle this boss is to earn his trust. Direct confrontation will not work; if he felt confortable with confrontation, he’d confront you. And avoidance will only lead him to think you don’t like him, which will make things worse. But by proving yourself to this boss and showing that you respect him, you can remain on his good side. While he’s not particularly loyal, he is petty—so as long as you don’t give him things to nitpick, you’ll stay in his good graces.
3. THE MONSTER YOU CREATE. Sometimes the boss is not a monster at all—you’ve just decided he is. For example: if your boss yells at you for frequently being late (and you are late), your boss is not a monster. You are! It doesn’t matter if your boss is particularly nasty about it—he is within his rights if you are being negligent and repeating the same mistakes over and over.
If there is even a remote possibility that you’ve created a monster, you need to check in with yourself. Get real: Did you cause this? Are you working as hard as you can? Are you overly sensitive to criticism in general? If the answer is yes, then you need to adjust your behavior. You need to become more responsible at work and stop creating stories that are convenient for you but ultimately untrue.
If you follow the instructions above correctly, you should start to see a change in your relationship with your boss. If not, then it’s possible that your situation is simply irreparable, and that you need to start looking for another job. That may be a tough pill to swallow if you love your job (or if you’re terrified of being able to find a new one), but you owe it to yourself to have a job that doesn’t make you miserable.