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12 steps to eliminate a high-ranking executive bosshole

12 steps to eliminate a high-ranking executive bosshole

"Bosshole" by artist Aaron McKinney

Although it’s not illegal to be an evil executive bosshole, you never know the potential illegal or unethical actions the tyrant is trying to hide or who might file a hostile work environment claim with the EEOC.  Don’t be complacent about having a bosshole in the company.  If you are a leader, you have an obligation to monitor and help maintain a good working environment free of hostile behavior. This is not just a human resource issue; bossholes are a company issue.

Be very careful navigating these treacherous waters.  When dealing with a high-ranking executive bosshole, don’t be surprised if you become a target of their wrath.  They will use all their resources at their disposal to protect themselves and sink your career.

Below are 12 steps to navigate this dangerous situation:

  1. Document all behavior, including dates, times, who was impacted, and witnesses.
  2. Follow-up with witnesses and carefully document their side of the story.
  3. Meet with all people individually in a safe and secure office or conference room.
  4. Ask all targets and witnesses for their complete confidentiality concerning your meeting.
  5. After documenting and assembling all the evidence, determine if you have enough information to confront the fire-breathing executive bosshole.
  6. If you have access to a labor attorney, now is a good time to call them to discuss the case.
  7. Realistically assess your top leadership team’s tolerance for bosshole behavior.  If your CEO is presented all the facts will she act and do the right thing?
  8. Make sure you have enough money in your savings account to cover your living expenses while looking for another job if this process goes bad on you.
  9. Schedule a meeting with the bosshole’s boss and calmly and unemotionally deliver the facts. If he is concerned about the situation and legitimately wants to fix it, then proceed with confronting the bosshole calmly and unemotionally, with the facts, and with his supervisor present. Offer professional coaching help to turn his behavior around.
  10. If the supervisor blows you off, then you should move up a level.
  11. If the next level blows you off, move up to the division’s VP, or even the CEO, if necessary.
  12. If this level blows you off, start looking for a job, unless you are okay with employees being subjected to hostile behavior by leaders at a mediocre company.

Your job is to eliminate the bosshole behavior, not necessarily the boss.  Unfortunately, most bossholes I have ever met are unlikely to change.

Image Credit: Aaron McKinney

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.

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