According to a Gallup Poll the number one reason people leave their jobs is due to dissatisfaction with their bosses. Chances are you have had or will have a boss who drives you nuts for one reason or another. This person may be a controlling micromanager or one who only engages with you when there is negative feedback to deliver. A difficult boss may be one who consistently cancels your one- on-one meetings or has a knack for taking credit for your work. This person may be truly dysfunctional and a bully to the core. You need a plan to survive if you want to continue in your current job.
4 tips to manage a difficult boss:
1. Communicate your needs. First, prepare an agenda of the things you need from your manager. Next, schedule a meeting with him or her and explain the purpose of the meeting. For instance, you could say you want to discuss some ideas for improving how the two of you are working together as a team. In the meeting you can bring up such things as regular one-on-one meetings to get performance feedback or discuss project status, etc. The point is you need to be clear about your needs, state them positively and avoid blaming your boss for past behavior.
2. Treat your boss like a client. We have all had difficult clients in the past whether internal or external to the organization. Think about the tactics you have used to deal effectively with difficult customers. Understand your boss’s preferred communication style. Does he like brief emails with bulleted highlights, vs. long winded voicemail messages. Know the best time to communicate. If your boss is an early bird, try catching her before the start of the workday. Finally, think about how your boss likes to be kept up to date on projects. Does he prefer regular status updates during the course of a project? If so, take the initiative and just do it. Don’t wait to be asked.
3. Maintain a professional demeanor. When you feel like you want to scream because your boss has just gone off on you again, go outside and take a walk. It is critical that you do not stoop to the level of your tyrannical boss even if she has crossed the line. If your boss loses her cool and you maintain your professionalism, who will look like the fool? I guarantee you, it won’t be you.
4. Know when it is time to move on. There may be a time when you need to ask yourself if it is worth putting up with a dysfunctional boss. If there are no opportunities for you to transfer and it is clear the situation is not improving, you need to consider the long term ramifications of working for a tyrant. Bottom line is your health could be at stake. Stress can take its toll in the form of hypertension, gastrointestinal problems and a host of other physical and mental conditions. If you feel your health may be compromised, it is time to move on.
There are a number of resources available on line you may want to research if you are dealing with a difficult boss. Is your boss a bully? Take the test and find out. The Workplace Bullying Instituteoffers resources for targets and their families. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.