Yelling Match Between My Boss and Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about yelling between boss and bossed:

We had a workplace meeting and the boss told us that we could no longer turn in scrap from the jobs we worked. Instead, we have to take the scrap to the scrap yard and give our company the money. When I asked him why they were doing this he began yelling at me in front of the employees that work under me!

Due to the many other times this has occurred I blew up and screamed back. I also said F*ck you to him and that he has no right to treat me this way.Even though he started the altercation he wrote me up. When I advised his superior that I wanted to file a complaint against him the manager told me due to privacy he couldn’t discuss whether or not he would write my boss up. I’m at a standstill and unsure of how I should handle this.

Signed, Accused and Accusing

Dear Accused and Accusing:

If this situation just recently happened, you probably won’t be at a standstill for long. The higher level manager has both complaints and now has to decide how to handle them. You could be interviewed further or a decision may be made without further investigation, if the facts are known.

There is a chance that both you and your supervisor will be sanctioned in some way. Or, it may be that your sanction will be more severe because of the language you used. Hopefully the higher level manager will see there is a long-term problem that needs to be corrected.You might be able to help the higher level manager decide by sending a memo now that you have calmed down a bit. Tell him your concerns and ask for his assistance.You can say that you regret you lost your temper as you did.

Then, give examples of times when you tolerated being treated in ways you thought were wrong. You could ask the manager for help in assuring that questions about work issues are handled better in the future. I think that additional memo would be very helpful, to show that you want to improve things, not just complain about one person.In the meantime, you may feel awkward at work.

Put your focus on working and helping those you supervise. When they want to talk about it, just say you are hoping things will be resolved and improvements will be made. Avoid gossiping or bad-mouthing the direct manager, even if you think he’s completely wrong.Maybe you could suggest some regular group meetings in which situations such as the scrap procedure could be discussed. Those meetings don’t need to be long but often they help bring people together in good ways.One thing is for sure, everyone needs to be reminded to deal with frustrations and irritations when they happen rather than waiting until there is an explosion of anger.

This is a good teaching time for you. You could tell those you supervise that you hope they will talk to you right at the time they have problems so you and they will never get angry with each other in that way. At some point in the next few days you will need to communicate with your direct manager. He may be holding a grudge or he may hope things improve. Whatever his approach, just focus on courtesy that is appropriate for the work.If he says or does something that is inappropriate, offensive or goading you to anger, immediately stop him and ask him to go with you to the manager. Don’t sound angry, just sound determined.

The key is to act as quickly as possible rather than waiting. I hope this will be resolved with some help from higher up, but I also hope you are able to develop some plans of action for yourself and your team. Keep moving forward. Unless the work situation is so intolerable you can’t stay, commit to finding ways to increase employee input and ways to deal with frustration and irritation.Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.