Coping With A Paranoid Boss

Coping With A Paranoid Boss.

George was at his wits end and exasperated with his new boss’ attitude to him and other members of the company’s management team. In fact, he was experiencing a mild depression. Andrew, his new CEO, had just been posted in from head office, and within a month the management team was on the verge of a rebellion. Andrew’s personal secretary had resigned, and the Personnel Manager had submitted her resignation; both had been with the company much longer than George’s ten years. George had also been the right-hand person to the previous CEO.

Andrew’s pervasive distrust of top and middle level management was legend within a week of his arrival. His suspiciousness of how the Personnel Department had handled those senior appointments and his direct interference in its immediate decision-making processes resulted in its manager’s pending departure. His incessant insistence that his personal secretary checked and rechecked details of ‘who said what and when, and what did they mean by what they had said’ exasperated her, and the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was when he began to question the authenticity of her reports back to him. Following his first management meeting with his heads of departments, Andrew cornered George later the same day into another prolonged one-on-one session, that went late into the night; where he questioned many of his managers’ integrity, trustworthiness and loyalty to him and the company. The managers’ benign comments and opinions at the earlier meeting were interpreted as hidden attempts at deception, exploitation or plain opportunism. Even when they supported his plans, Andrew sounded surprised that they had done so, and doubted their sincerity and intentions. Genuine and honest mistakes made by anyone were further interpreted as evidence that the company was being purposefully sabotaged and the ‘mistakes’ were intentional and malicious. Humorous remarks were taken as intended character attacks at him, and compliments treated as attempts to curry favours.

In the ensuing weeks, Andrew began to begrudge the motives of different managers, as their disagreements and contrary opinions to some of his ideas and suggestions were perceived as personal slights and attacks against his character or reputation. Soon, his attitude changed towards certain colleagues, and gave way to angry and vengeful counterattacks. Public upbraiding of managerial colleagues became Andrew’s way of coping with his recurrent mistrust and misunderstandings. George was beginning to sense that soon, Andrew would turn against him and castigate him. The managers were already taking the cue and only addressing issues and voicing opinions that had Andrew’s approval in their meetings. Inevitably, Andrew soon exercised an increasingly high degree of managerial control, as he eschewed collaboration and could not tolerate any opposition to his ideas and plans, blaming others for their shortcomings. Given a classic description by George of Andrew’s paranoid personality disorder, it is expected that attempting to get along with someone like that is going to be difficult, as they often have problems with close relationships.