Understanding toxic supervisors and 6 tips on effectively maneuvering them

I’ll admit this. They suck. They come without fangs and horns, unlike the devil. But they still make life hell.

Immature, unempathetic, naïve, unskilled, and micro-managing managers are dozen a dime. A lot of folks are affected by these individuals. They are so fixated on the thought of looking good to their supervisors that more often they end up throwing their own team under the bus for lack of performance. I’ve seen this happen way too many times. You’ve probably seen several instances of these too.

For example, consider a situation wherein a colleague announces his/her resignation in the company.A few eyebrows are invariably raised, even if the act was seen coming. Office gossip revolves around the reasons why someone’s leaving, whether the new offer is really that tempting and then goes on to stop whether the departure could have been because of the ‘Boss’. We all know the adage that more people leave because of the boss than the job itself. What then is the reason with bosses and resignations? Well, putting it simply, it is the attitude, the toxic behavior of the bosses that compels people to leave an organization they so cherished working for.

Corporate corridors are replete with tales of bosses who make lives hell for the direct reports. Greenhorns who join a company with hopes of making a career are forced to leave when they can no more tolerate the harassment. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not everyone can ‘leave’ the dream job for which they studied so hard and made themselves so worthy. Add to it the umpteen interviews and the efforts put in the rigmarole of training and induction. So most endure such people and wait for a better opportunity, or for the boss to leave. Mostly, the former comes before the latter.

What do toxic bosses do that makes life so difficult for others

  • For one, they exude a negative vide wherever they go. They don’t see anything worthwhile in anything and anyone.
  • They will suck the meaning out of an otherwise appealing job with constant and unwanted harassment.
  • They will put you down before others and never find anything to praise you.
  • They will undermine your talent, belittle you, steal credit for your work and otherwise find opportunities to deflate whatever confidence you’re left with.
  • They will sabotage your career and ruin your dreams in the long run.

Why do people do that?

Most research shows that people turn negative, bitter and vicious owing to their personal experiences. Often, such people have had deep rooted psychological problems that impact them for life. They’ve had had bad childhood, abusive parent, childhood trauma, some complex, phobia or mania and are in general extremely insecure about others being good or worse still, better. Insecurity is often the root cause of people’s toxicity when they feel threatened by someone younger showing promise to excel in his/her job. This insecurity may not be justified, but they prefer to keep any competition at bay, lest their position gets challenged. Soon, this becomes a habit which refuses to go.

Consequences of enduring a toxic supervisor

  • If you suffer from a boss who’s all out to destroy your day with nasty remarks, sabotaging and harming your career without a valid reason, it will definitely result in you losing focus from your work. You get more worried about not being the target of his/her ire rather than focusing on the task at hand. This invariably results in a poor outcome which is fuel for the boss’ fury.
  • If you have to deal with a toxic boss every day, you tend to avoid facing her or find some excuse to stay away as much as possible. You hand over that presentation to someone else. Shy from taking responsibility that entails directly interacting with that person. That adds so much stress to your work schedule.
  • A toxic boss whom you deal with takes a toll on your physical and mental health. Constant stress results in loss of appetite, restlessness, fatigue, loss of libido and a nagging headache, among other things. Fear of being ridiculed for no fault of yours constantly plays in your mind and you are unable to enjoy anything in life.
  • You enjoy holidays more than work and hate Mondays like never before. Pondering on ways to avoid the ire, checking and cross checking work lest it is shown the dustbin, constantly being aware about being thrashed results in more efforts to stay sane rather than focused.

Tips to overcome toxic behavior of supervisors

  1. For starters, get a new job as soon as you can. There’s nothing worthwhile in this world than a good night’s sleep and a life well spent with family and friends. If you’re not able to lead a normal life and are marred with ill health and stress, you badly need a new job.
  2. Report to superiors if the boss has someone. More often, such negativity and toxicity goes unreported for fear of retribution and hence the saga continues unabated. You can be the one who can put a full stop to the torture endured by you and several others before and after you.

3. Keep all documents clear and ready. Whatever work you do, ensure you don’t keep any loopholes. Let people know what you’re doing and how. One way is to mark e-mails to boss in BCC to someone else in the company. You could use these documents just in case push comes to shove.

4. Stay unperturbed. If you can stay calm and continue with your work, you’re indeed blessed. However, not all can be so and hence one must find ways to deal with this person.

5. Try and find the root cause of this toxicity. If the person craves for attention and praise, try doling out some as a remedy. But in doing so, make sure you’re not being fake.

6. Expose the toxicity withcourage. Spot an occasion when you can expose such a person’s negative side by not being nasty but tactfully. I know this is easier said than done and can well happen in films and novels, but then opportunities come to those who’re prepared, better still, to those who can create them.

Whatever the situation, there’s always a threshold to how much one can endure. Draw your limits and don’t let anyone walk over them. Toxic people use their toxicity as a tactic to keep competition at bay. You need not fall prey to their trap at any cost. Try to handle, but if it’s too much, seek a better option. Happiness comes first.

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