I have a manager who is incredibly temperamental when it comes to criticism and what he views as unsatisfactory work. Oftentimes he will be very understanding and sympathetic when a problem arises, however, every now and then and seemingly without warning, he will become excessively critical.
This will usually escalate to the point where he belittles my colleagues and I while pointing out perceived flaws in our work. The catalyst is almost always either of little consequence and/or has a thought-out rationale behind it. I've spoken with the individuals on my team, and they have all attested that they have had these same conflicts with our manager and that they resent the aggressive nature of these encounters.
There are a myriad of factors at play, naturally. For me, the biggest kicker is that I see it happen to my colleagues, and I see it happen, again, when it does not seem remotely merited to be this combative. Whereas I thought if I "did a good enough job", I could avoid another of these confrontations, I now see that it very well could be a matter of time before another one arises whether or not I "step up to the plate," as it were.
I really like almost every aspect of my job, but experience a tremendous amount of stress solely related to this habit of my manager. I honestly think the next of these conflicts will have me quitting. As such, I have arranged a meeting with HR. This is partly to seek advice and partly to have a documented conversation about the issue. Mostly, though, it is to attempt to use the tools at my disposal to prevent a blowout akin to those that have already occurred. I've considered framing it in such a way that I'm advocating for my team's best interest, but I worry that may be an overreach.
What is the best way for me to have this meeting with HR and not place myself in the firing line?