How to Reveal Passive Aggressive Managers in the Workplace

Passive aggressive managers are counterproductive in the workplace.

Passive aggressive managers are counterproductive in the workplace.

A passive aggressive manager is one who gets angry but keeps her feelings bottled up inside. This is either due to a self-imposed need for acceptance from others, or from trying to avoid arguments and conflicts with others. According to Psychology Today, some examples of passive aggressive behaviors include missing deadlines, withholding information, leaving notes or sending emails instead of face-to-face communication, and resisting suggestions for improvement or change. There are several signs to look for when identifying a passive aggressive manager.

Pay close attention to a manager who never gives feedback. This symptom of passive aggressive behavior can kill morale in the workplace because you never know where you stand. Ask your supervisor a direct question about the job you are doing and see what kind of response you get. If you still do not get an answer, your only choice is to continue doing the best you can.

Observe how rules are enforced. Does the manager give clear and concise instructions on how to complete tasks, or does she give a vague set of guidelines. A passive aggressive manager will give incomplete instructions and get angry when tasks aren't done the way she planned.

Look for a manager who is constantly meticulous about smaller issues while letting the more important issues go. For example, does your boss constantly complain about the lack of neatness of your desk, while never commenting on company goals or your production quality? If so, this is a major sign of poor management.

Examine how your manager interacts with other members of the staff. A good manager knows how to interact with employees on a friendly basis to create camaraderie within the group. Employee Assistance Services of Southwest Florida states that a passive aggressive manager tends to not let her guard down, and will distance herself from others. This can create a lack of trust with employees and team members, and makes it difficult to follow her lead.

Study the overall personality of your manager. According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Human Resources, a passive aggressive manager is easily irritated, and is high-strung. She tends to find satisfaction in undermining others, and seems to have a poor self-image. She has a hard time controlling emotions, and they tend to change quite frequently. If your manager exhibits at least three of these behaviors, she may be exhibiting a passive aggressive tendency.

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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.

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