Managing a Passive Aggressive Manager

      If you have ever been employed within  the restaurant industry you’ve most likely have been exposed to many different personalities. Some personalities pleasant and some maybe you wish to forget. Working in the restaurant industry could be considered as a transit type environment meaning that it brings people from all over. When in this type of work environment, you will have possibly came across a disgruntle employee. It would seem that they were angry at the world or sometimes even belligerent at a snap of a finger. If this particular person was to be a low ranking employee such as a server, cook, or utility worker they would most likely be counseled leading to termination. The question is what if it was a top ranking manager, chef, or even an owner? Honestly there are only two possible answers to this dilemma that can settle this situation. The one answer would be to simply deal with it and be miserable. The second answer would be to throw your hands up and quit. If that was simply the case, then there would be no need to continue with this blog.  If that was the case, I couldn’t maybe give you some sound advice from my own personal experience. Since the first broadcast of Hell’s Kitchen on May 30, 2005 it seemed to become a tradition to have a chef yell at their cooks. Sometimes forgetting that this matter was made for television and not the typical hard working kitchen.  Believing that most employees wouldn’t tolerate such verbal abuse. You would hope there was a meaning behind the anger. Thinking it was being used as a method to get their point across. In reality it’s not necessary to scream orders or insult one’s intelligence. I was introduced to being yelled at a lot by my drill instructor while enlisted in the Army and sometimes by my parents when they reached their boiling points with me and my siblings. You would think one would be well seasoned with the capability of handling such pressure.

There will be good authority figures and some not so well. The true question is how much does the job mean to you? Does the presence of your executive chef or kitchen manager make your nerves so bad where you feel ill to your stomach? Maybe you then consider to seek other employment in another restaurant. Whose to say you won’t encounter the same situation at a level that’s more intense. My advice would be to accept that you have a job to do and you’re the person to get the job done. The recommendation here is to accept that you can’t change who your boss has decided to be. Remember it’s almost difficult to attempt to change a passive aggressive person. You don’t have control over this type of person. The only thing you can change is how you react or manage yourself when responding.  The two important words mentioned here is “manage” and “react”. The important factor here is that your own emotions don’t show evidence of anger. When dealing with authority figures that are classified as bullies,keep in mind that its textbook that they  shy away from a confrontation. I have personally witness this  observation on many occasions. They don’t appreciate employees that stand their ground. Reacting with anger would only fuel the matter preventing a solution to the dilemma. The best thing to  consider in this type of situation is to strategically handle the issue.

Angry bosses choose to be aggressive because they believe this works for them. They would rather you fear their presence rather than have you appreciate them. Sometimes these individuals don’t realize who they are denying that they have any passive aggressive issues at all. In a restaurant atmosphere sometimes there may not be a chain of command unless it’s a corporate chain. If there is a human resource manager, the question to ask yourself is it worth making the complaint.  You would have to be cautious considering there may be some sort of coworker relationship whether professional or personal. Sometimes taking some personal inventory on ourselves will help with making this decision.  Sometimes we allow our personal emotions get in the way of making sound judgement.

Most corporations frown upon authority figures that bring down moral preventing positive results such as production and sales.  A good chef or manager promotes a healthy and rewarding atmosphere.  A supervisor that constantly seeks errors in a staff’s performance never providing constructive criticism has issues with themselves. This allows them to shy away from their own faults and never accepting self-improvement. A great chef will always give you props or may even show you an alternative way. Sometimes a kitchen can operate without any issues, but a passive aggressive manager will never accept this and find fault in something. Even when you know you’re doing something the correct way and then your told you are wrong. Simply ask what is the correct way. Never be the cook that attempts to put the executive chef in his or her place.


Sometimes it may not be the front of house manager or the back of house superiors that makes the job harder, but the actual owner of the restaurant. Leaving you in a position to have no one to turn to. An owner can from time to time be very demanding sometimes making irrational request. Kitchen staff can sometimes be caught in the cross hairs of an owner. You would hope that your supervisor would be the mediator and leveled headed one to turn to for comfort. Owners will have their good days and bad days. If you have an owner that is constantly in the kitchen and is constantly barking. This is the moment you have to ask yourself how thick is your skin. How much does the job mean to you or even your family? If the staff begins to resign because of such matters. Hopefully the owner would realize that a cool demeanor would be the best solution.  Sooner or later the business would suffer and most likely the doors would shut. The only alternative you have is to anonymously write the other investors informing them of the tough work situations hoping they could seize the matter. 

With everything that has been mentioned in this blog. Do you surrender and accept your responsibilities or simply throw in the towel? From my own personal experience, I allowed the situation to be what it was. I stopped caring what others thought of me and this is when everything became a lot better. The chef became less confrontational and we spoke on a professional level. I finally understood he was an old school chef that simply liked things his own way and wasn’t based on popular demand. Hearing him say he knew he was an aggressive chef made it easier for me.  Always remain classy when you are dealing with difficult coworkers or superiors never giving up on your own morals and principles. Never accept the act of trying and attempting to change anyone but yourself.

This blog is contributed to all kitchen personnel that’s experiencing what I experienced during my 16 years. Of course the comments made in this blog is not a perfect science. You may have your own opinion. I accepted that being a chef was my dream and the journey towards becoming one was going to be a challenge. Are you dedicated to the journey? I encourage you to leave your feed back.


Further research can be accessed at:

The Secret to Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People


Boost Your Work/Life Balance:

How Should I Handle a Passive-Aggressive Boss?


4 Ways to Handle Your Passive-Aggressive Boss