On television, late-night host Jimmy Fallon has developed a friendly, charming personality with guests and audiences. But according to one Rolling Stone investigation This was made public on Thursday Behind closed doors, Fallon created a toxic environment for the staff of “The Tonight Show.”
According to two current and 14 former unnamed employees Rolling Stone interviewed, Fallon’s unpredictable behavior made the show a toxic workplace. The anonymous employees described a moody, moody boss who belittled and insulted employees with passive-aggressive comments and outbursts on “bad Jimmy days.” Eight former employees said his behavior at work “seemed to depend on whether he looked hungover from the night before.”
“It was like every day sucked when Jimmy was in a bad mood,” a former employee told Rolling Stone. “In the office, people didn’t joke, they didn’t stand around and talk to each other. It was like focusing on what you have to do because Jimmy is in a bad mood and if he sees that he might fly away.”
Fallon reportedly apologized to employees at an all-hands meeting following the revelation. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends… I feel so bad I can’t even tell you,” he said, according to two people on the Zoom call.
Whatever you feel about Fallon after reading the report, if you can relate to the fears and frustrations of the anonymous employees, know that you are not alone.
An unpredictable boss who can reward you one day and punish you the next is the worst kind of bad boss there is.
“When you have a boss, the center of power, who acts erratically and you have no certainty, that actually impacts your fight-or-flight system and puts you on high alert all the time,” said Mary Abbajay, president of das Leadership development consultancy Careerstone Group and author of “Level Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.”
In some ways, having mixed feelings about your boss can be worse than just having a consistently unpleasant boss.
“If your boss is always unpleasant, it will almost be easier for you to develop coping strategies for your interactions with him. You probably won’t care about them as much, gossip about them with your colleagues and get out of that work situation whenever you can,” he said Lauren Appioa psychologist, executive coach and organizational consultant who specializes in mental health in the workplace.
“But when your boss is unpredictable — sometimes warm or supportive, sometimes irritable, moody or demanding — you’re always a little on guard, trying to anticipate his mood and read his behavior,” Appio said.
“If you have a boss, the center of power, who acts erratically and you have no certainty, that actually affects your fight-or-flight system.”
Research shows how disturbing we find inconsistent bosses. Allan Lee, an organizational behavior researcher at the University of Exeter Business School, has studied what happens when employees feel conflicted and ambivalent about the relationship they have with their boss, which means they sometimes support each other feel and sometimes not.
In a study from 2017 In a study published in the Journal of Management, he and other researchers found that employees who were most ambivalent toward their bosses were rated as having the worst job performance. The sense of conflict worsened good and bad relationships with managers.
“As humans, we tend to like consistency and predictability in our environment. The argument is that this is a fundamental motive for people,” Lee told HuffPost. “Ambivalence or mixed feelings creates cognitive dissonance, and that is very stressful, especially when it comes to something important like a leader-manager relationship.”
Ideally, when leadership at the top is chaotic and unpredictable, your direct manager can provide the reassurance and support you need to do your job well.
“If I’m a grumpy boss and then I have a manager working for me, hopefully that manager becomes a buffer for the people below,” Abbajay said.
However, according to Rolling Stone’s report, the constantly changing showrunners who reported to Fallon were not helpful to the staff.
As one former employee put it, “No one told Jimmy ‘no.'” Everyone was walking on eggshells, especially the showrunners. …You never knew which Jimmy we were going to get and when he was going to throw a tantrum. Look how many showrunners left so quickly.”
“When middle managers like their showrunners absorb that grumpiness and release that toxicity downward, that’s what makes it really bad. Because they should be buffers,” Abbajay said.
Here’s how to deal with an unpredictable boss until you find a new job.
“If you have no idea what you’re consuming every day, it really takes a toll on you mentally and physically,” Abbajay said.
It won’t be possible to thrive under an unpredictable boss with mood swings, but there are strategies to survive and protect yourself from his leadership until you find another job. Here’s how:
Look for patterns of what triggers a “bad day” for your boss.
The Rolling Stone report detailed how employees warned each other about Fallon’s less-than-good days at the office, saying, “We’re against it.”
“It’s actually a good warning system when you’re dealing with bosses like that,” Abbajay said.
“The more you can look for their toxicity patterns and their unpredictable patterns, the more you can at least prepare yourself mentally,” Abbajay said. “HR can’t help you. So it’s kind of a thing where employees have to come together to create their own support system for each other.”
When you feel comfortable, talk to your boss about how he makes you feel.
“If you can risk it, talk to your boss about how you can best communicate when stress is high, and then remind him of those expectations if he steps out of line,” Appio said.
Team up with colleagues and be careful when telling HR.
If you can’t talk to your boss, focus on what you can control.
“Resist the trap of trying harder to avoid negative interactions with them. “It won’t work long-term,” Appio advised. “Instead, focus on consolidating your power: expanding your network inside and outside your company and keeping trusted colleagues updated on your work.” And avoid face-to-face interactions with your boss if possible.”
Ideally, HR representatives can help mediate conflicts between management and employees, but they act in the best interests of the company and may not side with employees. In the Rolling Stone report, former “Tonight Show” employees said they felt unsupported when sharing their experiences with human resources.
Abbajay said people should be careful when going to human resources. Start by asking your colleagues how HR has handled such situations in the past to see if it makes your situation worse, she said.
Set boundaries between your work and personal life.
If work is hell, make sure where you come home to is a sanctuary.
“In some of my recent research, I’ve found that people who have a more ambivalent relationship with their boss tend to ruminate and ruminate outside of work,” Lee said. “That tends to have negative consequences, so I would generally say it’s important to try to separate work and home.”
Abbajay suggested setting a date when you will be sure to stop so that you can psychologically disengage. “Just knowing that there is an endgame can give you the strength not to internalize that toxicity,” she said.
No dream job is worth ruining your health. “It’s always OK to leave a job for any reason – you never have to wait until your mental health is ‘bad enough’ to justify quitting,” Appio said.