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How To Destroy Your Manager


I love to see how people find my blog through Google and Yahoo searches.  They find me through searches on serial killers and chihuahua behaviors.  They find me when they are looking for the Sound of Music and stool softener.  They hunt me down on weird topics like the Weather Channel and bunny costumes.  Most of the time, I just sort of chuckle about how my complete lack of focus (some would call it blogospheric attention deficit disorder) pulls in readers from numerous topics.  There was a search this week that really caught my attention, though:  "How to destroy your supervisor."  They had paired this phrase with "office politics," which is more likely the reason I arrived on their radar screen, but still it intrigued me that somebody was looking for a "how to" on destroying their supervisor.  Mind you, I've had managers and supervisors where I had hoped a house carrying a little girl from Kansas would fall on them.  OK, maybe not hoped, but it wouldn't have surprised me.

If you currently have a less-than-pleasant superior, should destroying him or her really be a goal?  I had to chuckle at a recent letter I answered on Office-Politics.com that wondered when "office karma" kicked in to do the trick.  I shared with the letter writer an early experience out of college with a supervisor and a manager... two of the most wicked and vile human beings on the planet.  Surprisingly, these two taught me the most valuable lesson about bad managers and how to destroy them:  do absolutely nothing to them.  Yup, that's right.  Do what you can to protect yourself, your reputation, and your integrity; they will eventually destroy themselves.  The time frame is out of your hands, but it will happen.

I've yet to see a bad manager who didn't eventually self-destruct.  I thought J.K. Rowling's conclusion of the Harry Potter series was nothing short of brilliant.  Harry didn't kill Lord Voldemort.  Lord Voldemort did himself in.  The same concept applies in business.  Ego.  Power.  Pride.  Selfishness.  Greed.  Backstabbing.  Disloyalty.  All of the same traits which make them so unpleasant will eventually be their undoing.  Before they "get theirs" you may have to decide to move on, or you may be presented with the opportunity to facilitate their downfall (but don't count on it).  Either way, you can get back on your own career path, and they are out of the way.  Then you can refocus on seizing your accomplishments.


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Spoken with maturity and sensitivity. I on the other than must be a less evolved human and admit to petty sins of "non-violent disobedience" in the face of this type of management. I think it's a character flaw of an INTJ MB type. You are absolutely 100% correct that you have to take care of yourself. I start to keep a trail of all decisions and conversations and let the project process itself speak so that it doesn't become personal between me and "the manager."

Keep up the great work; I enjoy your insights.

Ms. Admin

I believe I've shared w/you when I explained to the "green executive" after months of observing his petty games, personality dysfunctions, rudeness, lack of leadership & entitlement syndrome that I would be more than happy to help him in one of two ways --- up or out --- it was his decision, he should let me know. After consulting his dear father, a retired sr. exec. he understood his behaviors were not acceptable; furthermore I was doing him a favor by offering to do his bidding. I'd even given him the option of deciding his fate. However, I've learned to do as you suggest. Bide my time, try and protect myself, sit back and wait for Office Karma to appear--she always does. However, I admit to wishing Ms. Karma would move a little faster; it's very difficult to watch so many good people suffer along the way.

Scot Herrick

The real issue here is this: can you wait long enough in the position to have the person go away? It's a tough one based upon the poor manager and prospects for the business.

I've always counted on the "75% churn" in companys to save me from a bad manager, but it doesn't always work.

Knowing when to leave -- especially with a bad manager in play -- is a critical, but tough, job skill to learn.


This is an interesting read, among many of your other posts. I'm "suffering" for almost 3 years at my current job where I simply don't know how to play the "office politic" game. Although your advice on "destroying" the manager by "doing nothing" is a very tough one for me. I have done that for almost 3 years and the "bad" boss will probably be at her place for years to come.

Timothy Johnson

Adelina - you don't have to do ABSOLUTELY nothing. Remember, playing defense is a key strategy here. However, bad bosses will eventually do themselves in. And if you can - in some small part - help facilitate the downfall, then great. Many REALLY bad bosses have an air of invincibility to them. This is generally their downfall. Because they think they have you as a subordinate completely beaten down, they start to attack bigger fish. Keep your eyes and ears open. Document their behaviors and actions objectively. Their time WILL come. Just be ready for it.

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