Do you have a really terrible boss and need to manage your manager? Does s/he make your life miserable? Did you lose 30 pounds and become a zombie within three months of going to work for the jerk?
You might be a PhD or you might be someone who needs a job without a college degree. It doesn’t matter. What makes bad bosses so difficult to work with isn’t just that they treat you so poorly. The worst part is that they don’t realize what monsters they truly are. You might think that your boss knows she is a pain, but chances are she thinks of herself as Sister Teresa.
Should you be the one to enlighten your boss? Eh…no…probably not. I tried that once when I was very young and very stupid. I still have the scars.
It was my first job out of college. I “explained” to my boss how his behavior just made everybody shut down and check out.
What was I thinking? Of course he went into defense mode and lashed out. I got fired within three months. At least I never made that mistake again.
At the end of the day, your boss is just a person.
Of course he happens to be a person who alienates everyone within a 10-mile radius – especially you. When people do that, it’s usually because they don’t have any self-awareness. They just can’t imagine how anyone could take offense by anything they do or say. And if you bring attention to their shortcomings, it’s seen as a mortal threat.
The good news is your boss probably doesn’t enjoy torturing you…she just isn’t any good at her job.
Of course my preferred solution is to quit and be in business for yourself but that may not always be practical. (I’ll be writing more on this option shortly.)
Another way to get rid of your own personal Beelzebub is to perform an exorcism, but it might take weeks to master the skills and of course there is no guarantee of success. No…you need a better remedy.
If you can’t change jobs or bosses you’re going to have to learn how to deal with your boss. Believe it not, the best way to do that is to take her out for a cup of coffee.
That’s right. Invite your boss to have a cup of coffee out of the office. While you’re there, get her thoughts on the following issues:
1. Ask for performance feedback.
Tell your boss about the top three things you are working on. You are gathering information and that is the first step in any negotiation strategy. Ask for her opinion about your work. If she signs off, you’re home free. Why? Because once she gives you her seal of approval, she will have a vested interest in your success. Sweeeeeet.
2. Focus on goals and priorities rather than getting bogged down over the details.
This will help you understand what your boss values and that will help you develop your coping skills. Crawl inside her mind and try to understand how she thinks and evaluates situations.
3. Ask your boss what her top three keys to success are.
I’ve had my own business for 25 years, and no employee has ever asked me what I think the key ingredients are for small business success. (If somebody did, I think my head would do a 360 degree turn while I started speaking in tongues.)
This is a great way to get some insight into your boss’s ideas about leadership, risk taking and office politics. It’s also a great way to forge a positive relationship with your boss.
If you take this step and ask these three questions, you’ll be boldly going where no employee has ever gone before. Your boss will be grateful that you treated her like a human. As a result, she might even start acting like one again.
What you probably shouldn’t do if you have a bad boss is tune her out. That will probably make her angry and make the problem worse. Think of your boss as a customer because, in many ways, she is. Listen to her needs. Empathize with her. Find out what she is afraid of and what motivates her.
Keep track of what your boss tells you – especially if it’s negative. This will help you see a pattern over time. Be proactive in looking for ways to be of service that are above and beyond the call of duty. Even though you probably don’t see it, your boss does have human DNA. Eventually, he or she will reciprocate the kindness you show them. Basically, I suggest that you give your boss the opportunity to re-enter the human race. They’ll probably jump at the chance.
Disclosure: I haven’t had a boss for a long time so I can’t promise these ideas will work. I do know that when I implement these ideas with the people on my team, they work pretty well.
What have you found to be the best tactics in dealing with a tough boss? Have you ever tried techniques like these? Did they work?