Is your Boss a bully? Is your Boss difficult? Or is it all your fault?
Perspective in life is everything. If you’re frustrated in your working relationship with your Boss, who is to blame? Are you accidentally getting on the wrong side of your Boss through stupid blunders? Or is your Boss really a bully?
Fostering personal growth and positive change through behavioral analysis forms the core of almost every self-help book out there. People who have developed the skill to objectively step back from a situation, analyze behavior, and take steps to improve are valuable indeed. When ‘100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of Your Boss’ and ‘Bullying Bosses’ landed on my desk, I noticed that both books coach readers on how to be observers of their own and other’s behaviors.
100 Ways is filled with ‘tips on how to deal with difficult bosses’. The advice is designed to get employees thinking from the Boss’ point of view, to objectively observe their own behavior, and to drop any adversarial feelings. You’re on the same team!
In Bullying Bosses, the employee is asked to document the Boss’ bullying behavior, and then develop a strategic plan to ‘defang’ the bully and if necessary exit. But on their own terms.
How do you know if you work for a bully or just a tough taskmaster? Mueller offers this observation, “Bully bosses can’t “connect” with others. That’s the difference between “being on the same team” and “being at war.”
While each book deals with vastly different circumstances they both ask the same root question: What negative behavior is making the workplace unproductive and intolerable for some employees? Who and what needs to change?
100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of Your Boss
And Strategies to Prevent you from Getting There!
Author: Peter R. Garber
Publisher: Multi-Media Publications Inc., 224 pages, $24.95 USD
100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of Your Boss by Peter R. Garber is an entertaining and humorous read designed to help you improve your relationship with your Boss. Garber, who is the author of over 40 books, draws on his 25-years experience as a Human Resources Professional, to give readers ‘tips on how to deal with difficult bosses’. He says, “The challenge is to find ways to deal with even the most difficult bosses you may have to work for during your career.”
Each of the 100 Ways illustrates a problem that you may encounter when dealing with your boss and then provides a strategy to solve it. Garber says, “Unfortunately, sometimes people’s relationships with their bosses at work can get so strained that they are treating each other as if they were the competition, or even the enemy.” His advice is designed to get employees thinking from the Boss’ point of view, to objectively observe their own behavior, and to drop any adversarial feelings.
It’s easy to see why any of the employee blunders below would get you on the wrong side of your Boss. I either laughed out loud or was horrified at each of them. I wonder how many of these Garber has encountered in his HR career? And whether they were the cause of any employee’s untimely demise. Read these to the crowd around the water-cooler and see how they react…
TWELVE WAYS TO GET ON THE WRONG SIDE OF YOUR BOSS
#6. Don’t keep confidential information confidential
#7. Let your Boss struggle to remember names
#10. Ask your Boss questions that can’t be answered
#12. Don’t Give your Boss a ‘Heads-Up’ about problems.
#19. Send your Boss an email about him or her by mistake
#30. Don’t sweat the details
#32. Hide your mistakes
#39. Maintain a poor filing system
#61. Give your cold to your Boss
#65. Correct your Boss in public
#91. Keep repeating the same mistakes
#96. Criticize your Boss behind his or her back
If you’ve finished laughing, I think you would have to agree on two things.
#1 The employee is skating on very thin ice.
#2. Garber has a flair for situational comedy.
But I struggle with that ‘difficult’ Boss part. I don’t agree that a Boss is being difficult if he wants ‘confidential information kept confidential’. That’s not being difficult. That’s being smart. As the old saying goes, ‘Loose lips sink ships’, and corporate espionage will never go out of fashion. I’d certainly be upset about an employee hiding a mistake, talking behind my back, repeating the same mistakes or deliberately giving me a cold. Is this my moment of truth? Am I a difficult Boss? Fortunately I fired all my employees so it can’t be true (just joking).
I think that employees will get a lot of good information out of this book. Ideally it will prompt some healthy self-examination. After all, we can all improve. And we all make mistakes. But Garber’s book details some of the funniest and dumbest career blunders ever.
100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of your Boss by Peter R. Garber is available through Amazon
Multi-Media Publications Inc., ISBN 1895186896, $24.95 US/$29.95 CDN, 224 pages, paperback.
Bullying Bosses: A Survivor’s Guide
How To Transcend The Illusion Of The Interpersonal
Author: Robert Mueller, JD
Publisher: BullyingBosses.com, 283 pages, $17.50 USD
In Bullying Bosses: A Survivor’s Guide Robert Mueller, a former employment attorney, offers a survival guide to employees suffering abuse from their bosses. The main message? If you are being bullied you will most likely not be believed, and you will need to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Mueller acts as an ‘advocate’ for the abused, quickly arming them with the tools they need to defend themselves, and if push comes to shove, prove their case.
Mueller draws on his legal experience in counseling thousands of clients, to transform employees from vulnerable ‘Targets’, into confident ‘Workplace Warriors’. The book unfolds in a series of vivid anecdotes from bullied employees which aptly illustrate the many obstacles they face. He also identifies various bullying types, and provides statistics on the prevalence of workplace bullying (20 million or 1 in 6 employees are affected in the U.S.). Readers will learn about tactics that isolate an employee, such as the ‘Ring of Fire’, as well as classic bullying techniques like ignoring, teasing and humiliating.
For anyone bedeviled by a bully, this will be a very useful guide on how-to-fight-back and come out ahead. One of the most valuable tools Mueller shares with the reader is the Incident Report form (downloadable at his site). Targets are instructed to methodically record and categorize the abuse on it. To some this may seem overly analytical, however the process of documenting the abuse is critical to understanding it, spotting patterns, and devising methods to combat it. Like Sergeant Joe Friday from Dragnet, it asks for “Just the facts, Ma’am”. And as any lawyer will tell you: It is very difficult, if not impossible, to help someone if the facts are not well documented. It enables Targets to build an unemotional case that management will “have to” pay attention to, gives pointers on collecting proof, and on devising a workable strategic plan (which may include exiting gracefully).
Mueller says the big question Targets routinely ask is, “Should I stay or leave?” While this appears to be a reasonable question, in his experience it usually underestimates the circumstances. He observes, “Sooner or later everyone leaves to escape from their bully.” The better, and more empowering question he says is, “When will I leave and on what terms?”
My few criticisms of Bullying Bosses are nitpicks. Mueller would have benefited from hiring a copy editor and proofreader. In the next edition I would like to see simpler sentences (this might be difficult for a former lawyer) and no grammatical or spelling errors. But considering the affordable price of the book, these are minor flaws. You will be getting far more than your money’s worth in valuable and constructive advice.
Bullying Bosses by Robert Mueller is available through Amazon
Bullyingbosses.com ISBN 0-9768293-0-4, $17.50 US, 283 pages, paperback.
About the author: Franke James, MFA is the site founder of Office-Politics.com, and inventor of the Office-Politics Game.
Book Reviews of ‘100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of Your Boss’ and ‘Bullying Bosses’ © copyright 2006 Franke James. For enquiries regarding publication please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 416.256.9166