Diagnose and Treat Your Difficult Boss

Do you view your boss as the “ultimate authority” in your work life? Do you think of management as a one-way street with your boss giving all the directions and you doing all the driving? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Most of us have, at some point, banged our figurative heads against the cubicle wall in frustration with our boss. Dealing with the boss can be one of the most challenging tasks not outlined in your job description. And learning how to appropriately handle problem-bosses will be one of the most important skillsets you’ll never learn in the office.

grouchy bossThe Taskmaster
Task-focused managers are so set on seeing results that they don’t pay attention to the impact of their demands.

  • Set boundaries
  • Show boss the big picture of your workday
  • Remind yourself that work-life balance is a right, not a privilege

The Micromanager
They are control freaks whose insecurity drives their need to monitor and manage every task.

  • Prove that you are trustworthy; begin with small tasks and build up
  • Know the boss’s desired outcomes
  • Deliver consistently excellent work
  • Discuss how your skills can be utilized more fully

The Self-Promoter
With an underlying need for recognition, they will stand up for you on issues that make them look good. They are not above taking credit for tasks their staff has accomplished.

  • Pitch them on work you want to do by emphasizing its profile and importance to senior management
  • Document your accomplishments

The Waffler
They never give feedback, make decisions or take risks. Anxiety is often at the root of their spineless, weak behavior.

  • Do not ask open-ended questions
  • Counteract vagueness by asking for clarification
  • Communicate your deadlines, but always factor in time for your boss’s procrastination
  • Demonstrate the negative effect indecisiveness has on work product

The Bully
Trying to grab control through abusive behavior, these inadequate, insecure bosses engage in behavior that is repeated, health-harming mistreatment, usually including verbal abuse or behavior that’s threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or interferes with your work.

  • Discuss the problem with someone outside of work
  • Don’t put your mental or physical health at risk.
  • Gather data on how the bully’s behavior is hurting the company’s bottom line and present your case to the company

difficult boss

No matter what category your boss falls under, remember that you ultimately have control of your work experience. Avoid falling into a routine, feeling helpless and relegating your unhappiness to conversations with your co-workers. If the environment becomes too inhospitable and begins to affect you outside the office, a job change is always a viable path worth taking.

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