Thursday, March 22, 2012

What To Do When You Have A Bad Boss

I generally believe most people mean well, but simply execute their job poorly sometimes.

Sometimes, there are BAD bosses.

This series is intended to address the most common issues with a bad boss and steps you can take to reduce the impact on you both personally and professionally.

The problems we face when we have a bad boss are almost too numerous to mention, but the two biggest of these issues are:

  1. They can negatively impact our work performance.
  2. They can make life miserable

These two issues alone make it worth trying to figure out how to work more effectively with our boss, even when they are bad.

There is a catch-all term we use regarding bosses and co-workers called "being difficult." It's not too specific to exactly know what the issue is. Sometimes when we are in the midst of a constant barrage from the bad boss, it's hard to know exactly where the difficulty may lie. All we know is it is difficult to work successfully with this person.

Here are some suggestions that might help reduce the level of difficulty:

Look to your own performance first. You might think they are being difficult, because they are demanding a different level of output from you. Make sure you are clear on what they expect from you.

Opposing styles. You might be expecting something from your boss that they simply can't do. You might think they are unfriendly simply because they fail to say "Good Morning."  To them, that might simply be a waste of time. Examine your own expectations of what you think they should be doing. They may not be very outgoing or simply operate differently than what you're used to. Reset your expectations.

Learn the boss. Spend some time really observing this person to see what they do that is impacting you. In the process, you might learn that they are getting leaned on by their boss and it's creating extra stress. You could discover they aren't a morning person, meaning you should delay important interactions until after lunch. Figure out their rhythms and modify your own.

Don't shrink. All too often when we don't like someone, we go out of your way to avoid them. While I think this tactic can work to keep you under the radar, wait to do that until you clearly have exhausted all your options. You may also find that more, not less, communication can help you with this type of person. Shrinking away into a dark corner won't help you.

Become indispensable. If you've attempted to learn more about the boss, take it to the next level and up your level of problem solving and support. This will help them shine to their own boss and will reduce reasons for finding fault with you. You can become the "go-to" person that they respect and depend on.

Let it roll off of you. We will spend a lifetime of running into people that are demanding, critical and downright volatile. You need to learn the skill of blowing most of it off. Certainly, there will be some of it that will still bother you, but most of the time you can simply not let it penetrate. I'm not suggesting ignoring the boss's needs or demands; I'm saying to not let their method of delivery be what grabs your attention or reaction.

I have found that even the most difficult of bosses can be tamed or at least subdued. I once worked for a guy, who had even the most senior, sage people in tears. When I started working directly for him, I noticed he was quick to engage in verbal battle. If you stood up for yourself, he backed down. I soon figured out that he tested people. If they backed down, he was relentless.

When I told him my observation, he laughed and told me I was the only person who had figured it out. He felt that if you were right about something, you would defend it and if you didn't defend it, he couldn't respect you. It was that simple. It was who he was – good or bad, but we always worked well together – and that's the most important part. You can turn a bad situation around, but it does take work.

Looking to get happy in the job you're in? Take this quiz to find out.

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, founder of New Chapter New Life, is a life and career coach, speaker and author. She is well known for her unique insights and deep knowledge about people and careers.

Thanks to Dorothy Tannahill-Moran / Careerealism


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