To continue our cautionary tales from earlier this month, which kicked off with 5-Interviews that would Scare your Mummy, today we dive deep into the employee lifecycle to introduce 6 “Boss” Energy Vampires! What is an Energy Vampire? Instead of blood, an energy vampire drains you so that you are unable to function properly after interacting with them. When it’s over you feel physically or mentally tired, anxious, angry, irritable… Prepare to be frightened by how these vampires have shown up in our client’s workplaces.
I worked in the corporate office of a famous retail cosmetics reseller. My boss was nice, a generally funny guy. He was also a workaholic and tended to complain because other departments were inept. “We always have to clean up the mess” was his catchphrase, followed by a request for me or my team-mates to work more hours, holidays, or weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m OK with working hard, and sometimes long, hours with good reason, just not all the time. My last year with the company he asked the team to work on a marketing campaign on Christmas day with him – some of us did. I did not. I was appalled, I mean, it’s not like we were curing a disease or feeding people – our business is vanity and our deadline was weeks away!”
My manager would often praise my work to colleagues, other leaders, you name it. It was great and became especially important to me. I worked in that role for over 2-years towing the company line and fulfilling every request from my leader exceptionally. Then I told him I was planning to apply for a different position with the company, still in our department but on another team. He was not supportive and managed to push every button of mine. He also barely spoke to me after I stopped reporting to him. What was once a collegial relationship became awkward. I heard from several sources that he was making nasty remarks behind my back and overly critical of anything I worked on.
In my first job out of college, at a call center, I was terrified of my manager. My job was to help customers quickly and achieve high customer service scores. There were twelve of us. When someone did not perform exactly as prescribed, while catering to her requests for Starbucks and constant order-barking, she had no problem dismissing them. Our turnover was insane. It was especially hard for men. After a year I started interviewing and left soon after.
I had a supervisor that made everything a dramatic fire drill. I swear if we did not have an insane deadline or problem she would find one. If things were too smooth, her personal stories got more exaggerated. She got stuck on the commuter train for a few hours one night and it was “110 degrees in the packed car of back to back people standing in the aisles.”
I had a senior leader who sat in derisive judgment of his entire department. Everyone knew it. Disenchanted direct reports would confirm employees feelings by sharing his cruel remarks behind closed doors. He would rarely talk to or even meet the eyes of anyone not on his leadership team or below the rank of Manager (and only then if you were worthy.) From body language to eye-rolls, to just ignoring certain people, he made it clear if you were not one of the chosen few.
Energy vampires suck. You cannot fight them with sunlight or a stake, but you can defang them by protecting yourself. You can do that by knowing your worth and setting boundaries. So follow our tips above, hoard your energy, and create as much emotional (and physical) distance as possible. Try eating raw garlic for lunch, that keeps everyone away!
Thanks once again for joining us and remember, if you have a short story or anecdote you want to share about your employee experience as you were recruited, developed, managed, or exited please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Crockett is a leader and professional development coach with more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Learning, and Performance. To learn more about her professional career visit her on LinkedIn.