Patrick: Hi, everybody. I’m Pat V, and you’re listening to The Rise Above Your Best podcast where, as I’ve told you, I’m not only obsessed with interviewing those that have achieved success and fining out their habits, but also in uncovering and exploring the research that demonstrates the great successes available to all of us, and it all starts when we believe in the power of rising above our best. I’m really excited about today’s episode because I think so many people are probably in this place, and it’s how do you deal with a bad boss? What can you do about it? And by the end of this podcast, what I want you to walk away with this is a feeling of you have control over this. As frustrating and stressful as it may be in the place that you’re in right now, that by the end of this you’ll understand that you do have control over this, or you can gain control over this at the very least. And it’s up to you, and how you wanna navigate the path going forward. So, why don’t we get into it?
Patrick: It’s interesting, there’s so much data right now from organization such as Gallup, or Mackenzie talking about disengagement in the workplace. And most of this data, over two decades, says that roughly two thirds of employees within companies are disengaged. And the cost of that disengagement per employee is about 13 thousand dollars for an organization. Now, that could be in turnover, could be in absenteeism, six days, low productivity, theft, whatever that might be, but disengagement has a cost to organizations. And I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know, certainly if you’re one of those that has disengaged. You show up differently at work.
Patrick: What’s more important here is that 70% of disengagement, from an employee perspective, comes from the manager that that person reports to, and the root cause of that really is all about behaviors. So if that’s the case, how do we deal with that? How do we deal with a bad boss? And there are ways that we can do that, because in fairness to managers most have never been trained in terms of how to lead people and what behaviors are most productive. And if listen to episode 10, I speak to some of that in terms of how our unconscious attitudes or expectations of others really create the environment that we’re in. And the good news of that is that we have control over it when we understand that, so that’s really what this is about.
Patrick: We’re gonna take this in stages. We’re gonna first talk about a study that was published, and the study really looked at how to effectively be a suck up in some regards. The academic title, obviously, is different but that’s really what the study was about. This study was actually published in the Leadership Quarterly, and it was Volume 18 in 2007, and the title of it was Coping with Abusive Supervision: The Neutralizing Effects of Ingratiation and Positive Affect on Negative Employee Outcomes. And really, what it did was it explored a couple things. One is, as an employee the approach that I took to the manager, and also how I perceived myself in that situation, impacted me being able to neutralize a bad boss.
Patrick: And what important here is, well, what does it really mean to be a bad boss? In regards to the study, what it did was it defined it in a way that said that it had to be ongoing. These couldn’t be one off situations. But the bottom line was that if a boss, if their behavior toward you impaired your abilities to succeed at your job, based on navigation behaviors that they had toward you, then that was considered to be abusive supervision.
Patrick: Now, what do you about that? In this study, it was involving tactics such as speaking with the boss about projects that they wanted completed and what their expectation was, or how they could effectively do these projects. So, it was about dialogue and about constantly being in touch with the manager in terms of trying to build a stronger relationship with them. And from a standpoint of positive affect, it was looking at how can I, as an employee, feel better about myself? And if I don’t feel confident, in terms of who I am, that this ability to ingratiate myself to the manager is gonna be diminished. Because, if I don’t feel confident in who I am then that’s gonna come across even stronger in regards to the manager. And again, that speaks to, in episode 10 where we talked about this idea of set up to fail syndrome. Where I began, as an employee, to feel less confident in my abilities. And what happened was, I built this self fulling prophecy that I became worse as an employee.
Patrick: This goes both ways, which is important here, that with a manager that if you expect to be on the receiving end of poor behaviors then often times that can create its own environment. So, it really is about this idea of positive affect, that I need to go into this with a standpoint of … of feeling as though I have control over this situation. And stress, really, the origin of stress is about lack on control. That if I’ve got a manager that I don’t feel like there’s anyway that I can make this person happy, or I feel like that I’m their sight line, so to speak, of poor behaviors, then I begin to get stressed out because I feel like I’ve got no control over this.
Patrick: We do have control and I think that’s the most important thing to understand is we go through this. Is to say that you do have control over this. As bleak as things may seem, that you do have control and we’ll explore that. And I speak from experience when I say that, because the last boss that I worked for was the one that finally provided me with enough motivation to go out and do what I was really meant to do, which is help other people in terms of leadership and develop their own levels of success. And I’ve never looked back, and I had three kids in private schools, and income that was well into six-figures, and lots of benefits, and how could I ever just walk away from this without having any income, so to speak, but I was able to. I look back on it now and think, “God bless bad bosses.” And I mean that, god bless bad bosses. And, I think, when we look at it in that frame of mind you will have a different outlook in terms of how you address challenging situations.
Patrick: I can still remember that moment for myself, where I was sitting in a Panera with my boss at that point, and I was on a performance plan one that the objectives seemed to keep changing. It was almost like whack-a-mole, that any time I got close to hitting what was required of me the parameters changed. And I remember sitting there at the table with this person, and my eyes welling up and it wasn’t because I was sad or frustrated for the situation. It really was a deeper sense of, “How could I allow this person to control me,” which is what was going on. How could I allow this person to have control over where I was gonna go? And I made a point at that moment that I was getting out, I was starting to work on my exit plan. That’s all that it was and that’ll be a stage that we’ll speak to later on. But I knew, at that moment, that I had control over this. I was not gonna allow this person to have control over me anymore.
Patrick: Now, that required my own ability to have a lot self confidence, and that came from the next phase that I’ll talk about, is to say that after ingratiation to be able to have positive affect really requires a strong sense of who you are and I developed that through a study that I had come across by a gentleman named Shawn Acre and I was a 21-day challenge. And it’s another episode that I speak to on what I’ve called power, and if you’re interested that’s episode five. But in that episode, or in that model, what I continued to do was five things. I made sure that every morning I was writing down three things I was grateful for, and at the end of the day I was writing down two to three sentences on what went well during the day. In between that, I was trying to do something for somebody else every day, at least one thing. I was getting exercise every day, and I was finding time to meditate, or just find some quiet time where I could think about how things were gonna work out in my favor.
Patrick: And as simple as that may sound, that it really does create this sense of positive affect where I knew I was in control of the situation. I didn’t know how it was gonna turn out, but I did know that it was in my control not this manager’s. And I think that really is important, in terms of how you develop positive affect.
Patrick: So the next is to say, “What do you if … I’ve done this ingratiation, or tried to basically get on my manager’s good side, where I’ve asked them questions, maybe around … or had conversations where I’ve said, I want this to work out. How can I do this. How can I give you what you need?” As a manager, that’s the ingratiation part where I’m going to them and saying, “You know what, my belief is that if I do well, you do well as a manager and how can I make that happen?” I’m trying to get on this person’s good side. That’s the ingratiation. And if I have positive affect, if I’m confident in who I am, then I’m able to do that more effectively and that’s certainly what the research showed.
Patrick: It showed that those people that had strong positive affect when they did this ingratiation, they were more effective and it worked out in their favor more often. And I think the reason being is that, again, we create this expectation of things are gonna work out. We go in with that frame of mind. Now, they may not. In my case, it didn’t in that standpoint, but it did certainly work out much more in my favor down the road because I knew that, “Okay, this isn’t gonna work. I’ve tried this. This doesn’t work. What’s the next level? What do I have to do next?”
Patrick: And what I did was, I started documenting everything that happened, and this was more for my own sanity too, that I knew that I was able to work these things through as I was writing them down. I was able to work through what was going on and how I was gonna take it to the next step, what I was gonna do. So for companies, if you’re working for a larger company, I would highly recommend at this point that you try and act … try and gain access to an EAP system, an Employee Access Program, because they provide you a whole host of resources. They may help you to navigate the situation.
Patrick: Within your company too, also, try and find other advocates, other people that you work with that maybe are on good terms with the person that is managing with you, and see if maybe you can, from an influence standpoint, ask them to advocate on your behalf with that manager. Maybe that’s another way that you can try and ingratiate yourself with this person, to try and get yourself in a positive light.
Patrick: The next step, maybe reaching out to the Human Resource advocates within the organization, and speaking to them about the situation and where you, and maybe asking them to intervene on your behalf in terms of how you can take this to next level. I will tell you from my own personal experience, that didn’t work out favorably. I think, often times, a manager may have influence over your influence. And what I mean by that is, that their word is taken as higher than your word is. And again, I don’t think anybody would admit that that happens anecdotally. Speaking with other people that have been in similar situations, I think most would agree that on some level it probably does happen and that’s just human nature. I know in my own situation I had a manager that was probably very convincing and told a very good story, and I never really had an opportunity to voice my side of it to those same people. So, this person’s only getting one real side of the story.
Patrick: But again, I think it’s an avenue that you have to approach in terms of effectively trying to navigate the situation that you’re in. I think also, another important approach may be to look at an attorney. I know you can generally get initial consults with attorneys for, probably, $150 to $300. And depending on the role that you’re in, or where that you are, that might be worthwhile to do. I know in my situation that was something that I did. I went to an attorney and said, “Here’s the situation. What are my options?”
Patrick: Again, that provided me with control of being able to know what my next steps could be, what was it gonna be that I was gonna be able to do to try and navigate the situation. Between that and speaking with HR, I knew my timeline. I knew how much time that I had, worst case, with a manager that I felt at that point really was just … was not going to work with me to try and keep me within the company, but essentially was gonna fire. So, I knew that going in and that allowed me my timeline to work out what I needed to do on my end to make sure that I could provide the most runway available to get me to starting my own business, and I used that time appropriately for that. Certainly, did what I needed to do in my job at that role, but also knew that I was looking at time ticking away and how was I gonna deal with that, and that was part of my exit strategy. I knew that there was something else I had meant to do.
Patrick: And with that said, I think in the environment that we’re in today, look at whatever talents or abilities you may have and what are your side hustles? What are things that you can do on the side that can help you to get where you wanna go? And we all have them, think of what resources you can tie into that can help you to get where you wanna go? For me, I focused a lot on podcasts, on people that were doing what I wanted to do. There were several that I listened to on a regular basis that really helped me and inspired me to have the confidence to go off on my own. One was Gary V, the other was John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneurs on Fire. The last was by James Wedmore and it was the Mind Your Business podcast. These were all ones that I listened to on a regular basis, while I was driving in the car, or mowing the lawn, or folding the laundry, whatever it might be, any downtime that I had I was listening to these.
Patrick: And as much about gaining confidence and motivation that I could do what I wanted to do, all these other people had done it. I was able to do it too. There was no reason why I couldn’t, and I think that’s probably the most important thing that you have to realize here, is as bad as your manager may be, in the situation that you’re in, you do have control over it. And if you tell yourself you don’t have control, then that’s the path you’re gonna take. You need to find ways to look at this and say, “I do have control over this. There are things that I can do.” And maybe it’s a year long process where you’re mapping our how you’re gonna get to your next place, but just by doing that provides you with a sense of control. I know that I’m in a difficult situation right now. I know that this isn’t favorable, but I’m taking the steps that I need to get me where I wanna go. That, in and of itself, helps from a mindset standpoint of reducing that stress.
Patrick: Yeah, this is a bad situation. This is crappy, but I know that I’ve got control over this. I’m doing the things that I need to do to get me where I wanna go. That’s the most important thing that you can do, whether it’s to start out where we talked about first with this idea of ingratiation and positive affect where the study showed that by almost trying to find ways for your manager to like you, so to speak, to get on their good side, to do things for them or whatever that might look like how you can do that, that’s your first step. But even when you do that, you’re in control. You’re choosing to navigate that situation. The manager doesn’t have control over you. I’m choosing to ingratiate myself to this person, so that this situation will be more favorable, but in control of this. It, again, reduces the stress. Going from there, if I find that that’s not working, if I’m a situation where this is just too far down the line, I’m still gonna have a positive expectation on where this gonna go, but I’m not gonna take … What are my next steps?
Patrick: All along the way, I can’t stress enough that you document what’s going on. If it’s not for legal reasons, it’s for your own personal sanity where you can write out what’s going on and how you’re gonna address it. Find other people around you that you can advocate with, that you can bounce ideas off of that’s a safe place that you can have these conversations. That, in and of itself, can help as well, because it allows you to be able to speak to this to somebody else that maybe has an idea on how you can address this, or maybe how you can advocate, or there’s somebody else that can advocate for you, but this is really important. Always remember, there is something that you can do today that is more than you did yesterday. That is the essence of rising above your best. You always have the opportunity. There’s something else I can do to make this situation better that I didn’t do yesterday. There’s a new approach I can take, what’s that gonna be?
Patrick: In the end, you have control. And to followup on my own experience of “god bless bad bosses,” that as stressful as it was, at a time where I felt I didn’t have control, when I made that decision to make the move I had built up a strategy, a runway of how I was gonna do that and I recovered that income that I was prepared to loss within that same year. Within that same year I recovered that income, and I know that it was because of my own expectations, that I knew I had done all the pieces on my own. I had control of this. You can do the same thing.
Patrick: I hope you’ve found this episode valuable, and certainly inspiring if you’re in that situation where you’re dealing with a bad boss. That hopefully, first, you can find a way to resolve it right up front, if that’s what you wanna do. That there is research that shows, certainly, that this idea of ingratiation, of finding ways to make a connection with this person, that it works. But if that’s not possible, to know that you still have control over this. There are other things that you can do. Maybe you know somebody that’s struggling with a manager right now, or what their next steps are, or feeling as they have no next steps. They do, and I’d ask you forward this to them and have them listen to it, or listen to episode five on power, on how you build up your own self esteem, or listen to episode 10 on how our own personal unconscious biases create the environments, often times, that we’re in, that we do have control over this.
Patrick: And again, if you have found this helpful it would mean the world to me if you went on and rated this, and certainly you subscribe to this podcast going forward because I am committed to finding ways to help other people to rise above their best. And until our next episode, I hope you’re able to go out there and do that. Rise above your best.
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Coping with Abusive Supervision Study
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