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My direct line manager joined our workforce about 9 months ago. He inherited a lot of stress and problems. As a team we were very excited when he started as our last manager had been lovely but poor at management, and the owner of the company was (and is) somewhat volatile and uncoordinated.

He did ask us about any concerns we had quite near the beginning. I gave him a document of my main concerns for the business. There was a lot more I was concerned about but I was worried it might overwhelm him. As it was I didn’t really get any feedback other than ‘thanks’ and I assumed that he had a lot of work to go through and assess so I should wait till he asked for more information.

As time has gone on the owner of the business has heaped extra work on him. He has accepted this extra work and there’s nothing my team can do about it as the majority of this work is for a seperate business.

The staff have been under stress since before he came and one or two have ‘cracked’ under pressure and gone into his office for long rants or meltdowns. Some staff have quit. Again, I can imagine how stressful this is.

However, our manager very quickly looked to pass blame on. We are a very hard working team who did incredibly well in an unstructured environment with policies and protocols changing weekly and received no recognition from the business owner. We continued to work hard when this new manager started, but rather than being commended or managed, we were left to our own devices. Until an individual went to the manager about a grievance and then the manager would come at us like a ton of bricks, without asking for ‘our side of the story.’

This is now happening regularly. The manager is blowing up at us, making accusations with no foundation, generally saying vague things (“I ask you to do things and you don’t do them!” But not specifying what) and has referenced formal warnings and firings without giving any specifics why.

He’s also told us multiple times: ‘come to me if you don’t like me, or have a problem with me!’ But there is no confidence in me that reporting him to himself will make a difference in his behaviour.

Of course, when unreasonable comments or decisions are made the staff are remarking on these privately to each other at break times. We are very stressed and trying to make sense of things. We’re not speaking about him on a personal level but in the context of the business and our instructions etc. He’s either aware of this or is paranoid about this as we’ve been warned about insubordination and bullying.

Multiple attempts have been made to discuss ongoing issues in the business, generally we are ignored unless one of us ‘cracks’ and then the rest are attacked for whatever the trigger reason was.

We’ve been told to talk to him anytime but he’s hardly ever in the building and our workload is so tight we’re barely keeping on top of things. Also, I personally would expect to get shouted at if I approached him. We were promised appraisals but haven’t had any. There is no HR - he is the HR. Since that first request for info I have never once been asked for my opinion on why there’s so much stress/problems or invited for a discussion.

I don’t think I can stay in this environment but in the meantime, how can I handle this? Should I confront him and say that I find his management aggressive? Should I ask to schedule a meeting (all recent ones have been 95% him ranting and 5% anyone else trying to get a word in). Should I use my free time to write another document about all the issues since my work won’t allow me time for that? Should I stop all discussions about work with other staff if there’s any negativity they might come up?

If you read this far, thank you!

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    Thanks. It’s taken me a while to realise it’s not sustainable as I do like my job itself! Appreciate your comment. – Regon Mar 3 at 12:35
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I initially left this as a comment rather than an answer because it initially felt like a bit of a cop-out, plus it was late and Answers take a bit of time and effort. But answers should go in Answers, not comments, so typing it up.

I feel overwhelmed by your situation and I'm not even in it. I think I would be inclined to find another job and tell him about his issues when I gave notice or in the exit interview.

Normally, I'd like to think that the new manager just needs a bit of training. This may be true, but it feels like it's more likely to take a lot of training. He's probably smart enough to know he's not doing his job completely right, and panicking, which is not going to make his response be pleasant. If the owners have given this manager responsibilities for two or more businesses when one of them was already in a critical state from prior mismanagement or neglect, they're probably not going to be helpful.

One could try to get competent management training to the guy, but he's probably not in a receptive state to receive it, so that probably would not go well. I think the overall situation is salvageable, but the person or people who go to talk sense into him need an exit strategy. Exactly how to convey the problems of his management style isn't something I'd be particularly skilled even if I knew him and the situation like you do. I'd still try, but I'm a hero type, apart from my geeky exterior.

I feel like I'm lacking half of what it takes to make this a great answer, and without that it's a downvote magnet, so wiki time.

  • You shouldn't make something a wiki just to protect yourself from downvotes. Either create a valuable answer or don't. – user44108 Mar 4 at 14:46
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I have been in a very similar situation recently. I tried giving feedback, I tried giving tipps, I tried talking to his boss ... but none of that worked.

The thing is that if your boss is overwhelmed, the first thing to go is usually their ability to reflect and plan - ironically precisely when these activities would be most needed. In addition, it will often take quite a while for their management to realize that the person is overwhelmed.

That leaves two options: Remain and wait for senior management to step in, hoping they'll correctly diagnose the cause and replace your boss, or quit before the shit hits the fan.

But onwards to your questions:

Should I confront him and say that I find his management aggressive?

You can try giving feedback, but it should probably be more specific than that. After all, either he knows he is aggressive (and doesn't care), or he doesn't think he is aggressive (in which case you'd need to explain exactly why his behavior is harmful to the team and himself).

Should I ask to schedule a meeting (all recent ones have been 95% him ranting and 5% anyone else trying to get a word in).

Sounds as if you already tried that? Unless you have a good idea to make the next meeting different, I wouldn't try again.

Should I use my free time to write another document about all the issues since my work won’t allow me time for that?

How would that help you?

Wouldn't that time be better spent towards finding a job without a toxic boss?

I don't know the particulars of your situation, but sometimes quitting really is the best thing for you. Statistically speaking, bad bosses are one of the main reasons why people switch jobs, after all.

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This sounds like a lovely place to work. Frankly, your manager sounds rather useless, and definitely not a manager. Do you deserve being shouted at? Do you like working at the place, the way it is? Do you think there is any chance for you to change it? And here's a big one: Does the company deserve that you work hard for them?

You have no responsibility for the company, but you have responsibility for yourself and your wellbeing. The way you describe the company, you should sincerely think about leaving at this point. Which means polishing your CV, looking for job adverts, going to interviews, until you find a decent looking place that will pay a good salary. Once you have a contract signed, you give notice, and that's it. When that happens, don't look back.

And while you are still with your old company: Don't worry about things. If your manager shouts at you, you know that he is just out of his depth. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to care about. It doesn't matter.

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