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Toxic bosses: Who are they, and 5 ways to deal with them

Here we look at who toxic managers are, why they are that way and 5 ways to deal with them.

60% of employees surveyed left or were considering leaving a job because of their direct supervisor Toxic bosses are under immense pressure to succeed and produce results, so they take it out on their teams In face-to-face interactions, ensure that your chin and chest are lifted and your back is straight. Don’t blink.

Awful managers exist to make life miserable for others and make a living at employees’ expense.

They turn on the charm when their superiors are near, and snarl as soon as they have you alone in their sights.

Toxic bosses can make life miserable for even the most resilient of employees. They do it in a variety of ways, some by being abusive, others by expecting the impossible while blaming you for failure to achieve miracles.

Someone needs to keep an eye on these bad apples and direct report them to the proper HR authorities.

Here we look at who toxic managers are, why they are that way, and 5 ways to deal with them.

Read: Top 5 ways to save your job after making career-ending mistakes

Toxic manager traits

Having supportive managers can lower team quit rates and boost productivity, according to research from Stanford.

According to a 2018 study, 60% of employees surveyed left or were considering leaving a job because of their direct supervisor. Another 58% of workers said that they’d stay at jobs with lower salaries if that meant working for a great boss.

Having a bad boss can ruin not only your work weekdays but also your post-work schedules and personal life too. Maniacal micromanagers with anger management problems and workplace bullies are all typical descriptions of bosses with insecurity issues. But there are more.  

I went to Reddit for some interesting descriptions of toxic managers and there I found some gems that brought back some painful personal memories in my career.

“One who talks shit about your coworkers in front of you,” one person said.

Another person added: “(one who) Praises in public, criticizes in private”

Here are more you might associate with.

“I have a 100% narcissist boss.”

“Untrustworthy”, “arrogant”, “spiteful.”

“Holds you down instead of propelling you up.”

“Doesn’t accept/want/need criticism.”

“Believes their job is to secure their own position, at all costs”

There is also the one who just doesn’t care what difficulties you go through.

“Told my employer ‘I have a family emergency and had to call off today’, and guess what they said? Their response was, ‘I don’t have anyone to cover your shift.’”

Reasons why some managers are toxic

Here are three major reasons why bosses become toxic:

Stress and pressure

Toxic bosses are under immense pressure to succeed and produce results, so they take it out on their teams, pushing them to do more, even if their demands are unreasonable.  

Loneliness at the top

They feel disconnected from the rest of the office due to the difference in power, and thus don’t feel like they can reach out to anyone, turning them anti-social.

Personal dissatisfaction

No upward career movement or growth can make them bitter and resentful when seeing subordinates with high potential.

Read: Why CEOs and top executives in the Arab region need leadership coaching

Top 5 ways to deal with managerial toxicity

Try these out but the last resort one (item 5) is usually the best solution

1- Play their game

Accept their behavior and once you do study your boss’s patterns and pre-empt them. Make them feel needed and validated, agree with their demented thinking, and make them less threatened by you. As for the work, enlist the help of others so that the blame and responsibility is shared. No choice there.

2- Befriend everyone

Confide in coworkers that you trust and rally around your colleagues. This can even be an opportunity to bond with coworkers you weren’t as close with before the toxic boss. It is good mental protection from the daily assaults.  

3- Protect yourself legally

Keep records of everything especially when you are pushed beyond the call of duty. If your boss promises you a few days off, a raise, a short break, or uses aggressive language and emails behind the backbreaking work he/she is asking you to do, get it on the record.

4- Speak with your body language

A toxic boss usually jumps at the first opening to intimidate those around them. Avoid being an easy target by facing less of your body towards them. Only show them your side or back. But in face-to-face interactions, ensure that your chin and chest are lifted and your back is straight. Don’t blink. In time, they begin treating you with more respect. 

5- Look for a new job

No job is worth paying the mental and physical price that toxic managers make you pay. If the situation is untenable, leaving may be the only option. Use 1-4 options until you do. While at it, avoid future bad bosses. Do your research ahead of any new interviews. Talk to some employees post the interview. It might save you from “Deja Vu all over again”.