9 Reasons Why Managers Go Ape Sh-t

by Jarie Bolander on February 7, 2010

Disclosure: The author does not condone yelling and screaming as a motivational tactic even though it sometimes works really well. For those of you who do you the “Go Ape Sh-t” tactic as your main managerial style, be forewarned. If you use this post as validation that it’s OK to lead by yelling and screaming, I will hunt you down and vigorously thrash you with a wet noodle.

Some Background

Before we get started, let me put this post in some context. This week has been an awful week. For some reason, people were pushing my buttons in a big way. Since this is fresh, I figured I would rant a bit on why mangers go Ape Sh-t on occasion. This does not mean it’s right to fly off the handle and go analeptic shock but we managers are just as human as our reports and sometimes become irrational and crazy. For those of you that fall victim to this occasional rant, fear not. It’s normal for even rational managers to loose it. You might of even triggered it by some random or innocent comment that usually gets a chuckle. To avoid these Ape Sh-t moments, consider the following reasons mangers loose it:

Reason #1: Outside Work Stress

Managers have the same outside work stresses as anyone else. The usually rational, cool headed manger will snap if his home place stresses are starting to become too much to handle. The common cast of characters include: kid problems, martial problems, money problems or various other ones. In some cases, the increased frequency of blow ups can mean something is starting to unravel at home.

Tip to Avoid: Don’t bring up all those trivial problems that normally are OK when you can tell your boss is under duress.

Reason #2: Trying to Conserve the Trinity

The bane of every managers existence is the trinity: Features, Schedule and Budget. The way it’s supposed to work is that management gets to and the manager get the other one. In practice, the manager really gets none. Well, not exactly. What usually happens is that senior management switches up which ones they want. How nice of them. This particular one gets your bosses blood boiling since now he needs to figure out how to adjust and not look like a complete boob.

Tip to Avoid: Don’t overly complain about schedule or features or budgets. Your boss knows it’s messed up. Rather, take the more helpful tack and assist them in figuring out how to comply with the new constraints.

Reason #3: Too Much Trivial Bitching and Complaining

You know all those cute little remarks or complaints or ribs that always seem to get a chuckle. Well, sometimes those can be the spark that ignites a grand tirade. This one is usually the trigger for some bigger issue that just needs that little nudge to spin into a full blown tornado. Joking and kidding around is usually fine but in some cases, those complaints are just too much to bear.

Tip to Avoid: Meter the trivial bitching and complaining. Some of it is healthy but too much just grinds on a stressed out manager.

Reason #4: Lack of Response to a Priority

Nothing sets off a boss more than someone not jumping on a priority. Sure, you have plenty of other things to do. Sure, it’s a stupid request and not worth your time. The next time you think this way remember one thing: it’s important to your boss. Swallow some pride and just get it done. In the case where your boss always does this, then you should call them out on it but the occasional request, that’s normal.

Tip to Avoid: Just do the silly thing already. The amount of pain it will save you is worth it.

Reason #5: Inordinate Amount of Glib Responses

Akin to complaining but a lot more in your face. These types of comments are just rocket fuel for the stressed out manager to launch off into outer space. Now, it’s fine to do this in moderation or when the mood is right but don’t make this a part of your regular communications style. It wears thin quick and the wittiness of the comments wane quickly.

Tip to Avoid: Use glibs comments in moderation and only when the mood is right.

Reason #6: Pressure From Above

Nothing primes the pressure vessel to explode more than the heavy weight of the atmospheric senior manager that struggles to understand why his darling project is so far behind. If he was running the project, it would have been done eons ago (yeah right). All levels have some pressure to perform but as the managers accents, the pressure to perform (actually for his group to perform) reaches unbearable levels. This reason is usually triggered by some of the other reasons, so it’s hard to avoid it but you can mitigate it.

Tip to Mitigate: If you have a problem, come with a solution. Don’t just throw your hands up and expect your boss to solve everything.

Reason #8: Vendors

The savvy manager knows that vendors are both helpful and a headache. There are certain things that just make sense to do outside while other things you wish you could do inside. When vendors attack, it can be extremely stressful. The out of my control factor is high and dealing with irrational contractors always makes your manager want to scream. Vendors are important and finding good ones is even more important.

Tip to Avoid: If you use vendors, help your boss out and try to find and develop good relationships with them.

Reason #9: Pick Several From Above

The trifecta of Ape Sh-tness is when several of the above reasons all happen at once. When this happens, it can get ugly. It’s actually pretty hard to avoid the stressors that will lead to your boss going Ape Sh-t. The best course is to be able to spot the onset of these stressors and try and mitigate them as best as possible. When a compound stressor occurs, your normally rational and reasonable boss will be swirling within the tornado trying to figure out which end is up. Be a good employee and help him out.

Tip to Mitigate: Learn the stressors that set your boss off. Make sure to avoid those things during a stressful situation.

Forgive but Don’t Forget

Even a good manager will eventually go Ape Sh-t about something. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable given our hyper connected, get it done faster with fewer resources kind of world. When this does happen, remember that it’s not a personal thing — it’s the situation. Try and forgive your boss while also remembering what set him off. This will be the best way to make both your lives much easier.9 O

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