How to Deal with a Difficult Manager

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    First, document the dates, times and participants where the inappropriate manager behavior has occurred. Perhaps its public humiliation or personal criticism. It may be outbursts of profanity. Whatever the case, document, document, document!

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    Second, request a meeting with the manager. While this may seem both daunting and possibly futile, there is a chance the manager is unaware of the inappropriateness of the behavior, or just needs to be called on it.

    In a calm tone, explain the events, providing the specifics, and request that the behavior cease. Also, document that meeting took place. Write a follow up email thanking the manager for their time and recap the actions of the meeting.

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    Third, be prepared to speak with the next level manager about your meeting, as well as be prepared for a meeting with HR. Review your company handbook and Code of Conduct. Make sure you are meeting all of those guidelines. Sometimes, by presenting the case in terms of what the company expects, a positive outcome is more likely.

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    Managers, like everybody else, have their own fears, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. Given the opportunity to do better, most people will do so. A frank, polite, and professional conversation may be just the opportunity the manager needs. In short, don’t give up, and don’t passively accept bad behavior, especially from managers!

    Read this and other great management articles at “Ask a Manager,” found at


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