During recent leadership training, I shared stories with the class about a bad manager I worked for. I was fortunate enough to work for many more good bosses then bad, but my agency was not unique in its problems. Most aren’t!
This particularly bad manager, and the focus of this article, is one we would identify as the “snake.” Unfortunately, I worked for a few, but this one was dangerous.
These managers do not wear their intentions on their sleeves. Like snakes, they blend into their surroundings while concealing their true motives. They are manipulative, and dealing with them can be a challenge as their actions often undermine team dynamics and morale, hinder productivity, initiative, innovation, and erode trust.
These managers often excel in interpersonal skills. They project a charming facade to gain trust and build relationships, all the while concealing their ulterior motives and insecurities. This charm can make it difficult to recognize their true intentions until it is too late. Like a fearful snake, they have the potential to strike when you least expect it. Quite simply – they are nice to your face, and it is only when you turn your back that you feel the knife.
These managers thrive on ambiguity and secrecy and control information flow within the team. They share only what is beneficial to them, keeping their team members in the dark about critical matters. This tactic grants them power and control over decision-making processes.
They frequently “play favorites.” By aligning themselves with certain team members, they create divisions and sow discord among the team, weaking unity, collaboration, and overall morale.
Snakes undermine the skills and abilities of their team members. By belittling others or downplaying team achievements, they aim to create dependency and establish their own indispensability.
Snakes not only poison the work environment and negatively impact employee well-being, productivity, and overall job satisfaction, but are toxic and dangerous to the entire organization. It is essential to recognize their manipulative traits, understand their potential consequences, and take proactive steps to address these challenges.
Consider the following suggestions to effectively deal with this type of manger:
Watch for inconsistencies. The more you begin to understand this type of manager, these inconsistencies often reveal hidden agendas at play. Pay attention!
Have open lines of communication and seek clarification on decisions and actions. This should make it harder for them to spread misinformation.
Let your work speak for itself. Hard work will be recognized by your colleagues. By consistently delivering quality results, you demonstrate your value to the team and make it harder for manipulative manager to undermine your competence.
Build relationships with colleagues who might be experiencing similar issues. A united front can help in countering the divisive tactics employed by manipulative managers. It always helps to have a friend.
These managers can be emotionally draining, so make sure you prioritize self-care activities that help you manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Dealing with manipulative managers requires a combination of vigilance, strategic thinking, and maintaining your professionalism. Staying aware and empowered is key to overcoming the challenges posed by them. By recognizing the signs, implementing effective strategies, and focusing on your own growth and performance, you can navigate the challenges posed by such individuals while safeguarding your own career and well-being.
Remember, it's not about stooping to their level, but about rising above their tactics with integrity and resilience.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training