I got a most instructive e-mail about how one work group fought back against their asshole boss: They laughed at his mean-spirited actions to help cope in the short-term and to undermine his authority, and also used his own words against him -- by simply forwarding the asshole's email's to his boss -- in the long-term. Now that's exemplary asshole management technique. I need to add the power of laughter to my lists of tips.
Here is the complete email:
"We had an indescribably awful boss till recently, who was much younger and inexperienced than most of us but still managed to haunt us with his sadism and viciousness. We fought with the only tool that we had- laughter… We, staff members, used to laugh as much as possible at him- his appearance, manner of speaking, his lousy decisions, his religious fanaticism, his hurtful comments, his rudeness, his game of divide and rule, his favourite subordinate, till we became immune to his asshole behaviour and began looking forward to fresh material to laugh at. He came to know this but was very frustrated because no-one gave him any details. It began to get under his skin till he stopped meeting us.
Also, I began bcc-ing his obnoxious emails to the chairman who began to wake up to this major asshole and one day, mysteriously, the asshole disappeared, no doubt to make life hell in some other workplace. I feel sorry for those people.
(I would like my name to remain confidential as this asshole may still have the power to hurt me.)"
I include his last comment because it is so revealing. Clearly, these folks did an extremely effective job at fighting back against this guy. But even though victorious, the paranoia that I see in the request to keep names out of it strikes me as rational and wise. Like it or not, battling back against a workplace asshole often requires such political savvy.