How to Improve Employee Engagement and Confront These Monster Managers:

Manage Up, Be a Leader, and Develop Key Leadership Skills

After tens of thousands of employee engagement surveys and over 25 years of conducting them, at CustomInsight we've discovered most organizations don't have to scratch their heads about why employees are leaving. Poor management tops the list as to why your best are leaving. And many of these managers might exhibit some familiar behaviors.

Hollywood has showcased some of the greatest villains and monsters on screen (and, unfortunately, off). The freakiness of the characters we love to hate, though, often hit way too close to home. Many workers struggle with monster managers, villainous coworkers, and just plain old monstrous behavior.

Ideally, we would be able to employ a 360-degree survey on each of these favorite villains, but, because we can’t, we’re going to get in the spirit of the season and match your bad boss to Hollywood’s best bad guys.

Which Hollywood Monster or Villain are you working for (or with), and what can you do about it? Manage up and learn from the worst.

1. Nurse Ratched is that one co-worker or manager that thrives on the power trip of controlling the office space. Everything must be done by the book Rules are rules, and they are not meant to be broken. Ratched protects herself in group think. Certainly, this is not a psychologically safe work environment. She’s a passive-aggressive bureaucrat at its finest.
What to do? Recognize this person’s need for control at all costs. Also, in a risk-averse environment, new ideas and innovation are not welcome. Neither is failure. Start with the rules: Discuss them with your boss and find out why they matter. Come up with solid arguments to make changes. Focus on what’s in your control – your personal and professional development. Find a mentor. Sign up for extra classes. Go to seminars. Finally, be a team player to motivate others to try new things. All of these tips might bring a glimmer of light to the humdrum Ratched routine.

2. Walter White is that narcissistic boss who is starved for recognition. Had this show happened at a different time, it’s quite possible this praise junkie would have become a social media influencer instead of the most dangerous meth drug lord in modern-day TV. This guy is a piece of work. Manipulative, overbearing, mistrusting (certainly, his line of work didn’t help), and territorial, Walter White is that boss who micromanages everything down to the way you organize your paperclips. His personal agenda always comes first.
What to do? A praise junkies’ self-esteem is fickle. With a boss like this, it’s key to earn their trust so they can, hopefully, back off a bit. Anticipate their needs – staying one step ahead. Proactively provide updates, listen to feedback. Communicate, regularly, about how you appreciate them showing their trust and giving you more autonomy. And try to push the team toward collaborative goal setting and work. You might just fend off the beast this way!

3. Loki is that guy we love … and hate. He’s brilliant and mischievous. He’s decisive and deliberate. And he’s the King of hidden agendas. And he never takes responsibility for any of his mistakes. He’s that manager who’s on board when things are great but is willing to throw anyone under the bus.
What to do: Don’t play his game and fall into a he said, she said cycle. Be specific about problems and address the problem, not the person. Present the problem at a team meeting, discussing its impact on the organization. Get everything in writing. It’s key to keeping people accountable and having something to back it up.

Villains are fun on screen, not so much in daily life. Be aware of your legal rights. If your coworkers or managers harass, sexually harass, physically intimidate, discriminate, or exhibit other unlawful conduct, it’s time to contact an employment attorney.

Otherwise, it’s pretty safe to say that, over a lifetime, each and every worker will end up having to deal with a villainous manager or coworker, if not many. Lead your way through and mitigate tough situations with key skills: communication, active listening, collaborative problem solving, emotional intelligence, and kindness.

Hoping the villains you face this week are on screen or saying, “Trick-or-treat.”

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