How a Salesman Manages his Bully BossRobert Sutton
In my last post, I provided tips for people who are stuck working with an asshole boss or worse yet, in an asshole infested workplace. I ended the last post with a request for additional survival tactics. I got a brilliant email from a salesperson who uses some of the most nuanced and concrete asshole management techniques I have ever heard – which help this guy do his job better and suffer less in the process. Here is an excerpt from his email:
“I have a dream job at my company (with the exception of my boss), but it got to be so bad with him that I almost walked away. My executives don’t really have an idea of how bad he is; if they did, he would have been fired a long time ago. A few tactics I’ve developed:
1. Asshole boxing: No- it’s not fighting him. I box out a portion of the day to deal with my boss. I give him 8:30-10:00 every day, to cater to his needs.
2. Short emails: Quick emails throughout the day, especially during the asshole box. He feels no need to call me if he gets a barrage of status reports.
3. Hang up the phone: My phone has a problem. When people have a temper tantrum, it loses its connection. Usually my boss calls back a few minutes later. If I decide to pick up, he says “I guess we got cut off” and proceeds, usually in a better tone. I decide when I’ll take his calls.
4. Asshole anti-boxing: sometimes I don’t answer his calls for a couple of hours because I don’t want to.
5. Asshole assault scheduling and pre-emption. My boss has a temper tantrum on Monday two weeks before the end of a quarter, where he tells me that I’m not running my territory correctly (which used to set me off). I now schedule this time in my calendar to prep for it. I even now tell him that he will have this tantrum before he does, and sometimes I tell him that I agree with him. It knocks him off balance.”
This salesman is not only smart enough to manage his asshole boss brilliantly, he is also smart enough to follow the most important bit of advice I can give anyone who is working in a bad situation – as my earlier post here argued. He is planning his escape and will be going to graduate school next year.