Unless you are an extraordinarily lucky soul, you have suffered the unusual cruelty of a passive-aggressive boss who made life miserable and full of anxiety for no good reason. Only the strongest personalities can withstand daily attacks on their work products, botched communications, and managerial incompetence.
A shocking new poll from employment talent agency Robert Half revealed that almost half – 49 percent – of the 2,800 office workers in 28 U.S. cities that they surveyed quit a job over a bad boss.
Employees between ages 35-54 abandoned a boss with a bad attitude at a rate of 49 percent. Their more seasoned counterparts (over 55) had a slightly lower quitting rate of 41 percent.
Here’s how Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half, accounted for these self-reported high levels of employee dissatisfaction:
“Work styles and how well a person gets along with their supervisor can determine whether someone decides to join or remain at a company. Many times open communication and training can help to resolve issues and strengthen the professional relationship between bosses and their direct reports.”
McDonald hit the nail on the head when he cited communication and training as essential to conflict resolution. But, in about every other job, reality doesn’t conform to this HR idealism.
Everything seemed fine at the hiring interview. You were thrilled to land the position that would take your career to the next level. You showed up for work with a positive “can-do” attitude, ready to assimilate and be assimilated into the corporate culture.
Then, the first hint that something is “off” happens. Your boss reschedules a meeting location literally at the last minute without notifying all the participants, including you, making it look like you spaced out the gathering if and when you find it. This happens repeatedly and no one dares criticize the boss for fear of being fired.
Then, your boss sends you, a mid-level client-facing analyst, to some important small-group training with another employee who has almost no skill, knowledge, and experience. This person has a basic understanding of the training topic compared to everyone else in the room and becomes a boat anchor.
The session is taken up explaining basic concepts to the team member and you take away no useful information. Later, you are blamed for not learning vital information in the training session. This happens repeatedly so you provide explanatory feedback to your boss to keep her/him in the loop and cover your rear end.
Finally, your boss assigns you to a project with veteran clients who have helped beta-test products developed by your company. Rather than provide background on the clients, project planning documents, and appropriate guidance, you are invited 5 minutes after a meeting has started to join valuable clients you don’t know.
No one introduces you around so you aren’t quite sure how to act. It’s awkward and seems unprofessional. Later, your boss criticizes you for being late and not pitching in with great new ideas to solve all the client’s problems. Oh, and by the way, the meeting minutes you weren’t told to take are overdue.
If any of these scenarios ring a chord in you, it’s a sad and unfortunate fact that you almost certainly have a passive-aggressive boss.
Hallmarks of a passive-aggressive boss include avoiding talking to you directly about an issue. Instead, you find curt post-its and nagmail in your inbox. Other co-workers know all about the beef your boss has with you – but that information has been kept from you so you can’t present your side and defend your actions.
Another trait of a passive-aggressive boss is denial that they are angry or unhappy with you or your work product. Even if you ask directly if there is a problem, your boss smiles and assures you that everything is fine. But your performance review is negative and calls you a slacker who isn’t a team player.
Intention procrastination – putting things off – is another key indicator of an immature boss who is using a position of power to rule others rather than run a business.
When faced with unpleasant but necessary tasks, motivational speaker and corporate coach Brian Tracy advised us to go ahead and get it over with:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.”
Alas, a passive-aggressive boss is unlikely ever to eat the frog until the last minute, creating stress when it could have been avoided easily with a little self-discipline.
The stark truth about passive-aggressive people is that they lack self-control. Do you want these folks running your life? Wise up and don’t play the victim.
In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a labor shortage going on. It’s a buyer’s market for jobs.
Remember that you, the worker bee, always has the option to fire your boss, clean out your desk, and walk to the door.