With A Difficult Boss
If you’re working
in corporate America today, you’re being asked to do more with less.
The economic downturn of the late 1990’s, outsourcing of jobs, and
the implosion of whole sectors—all of these factors have contributed
to a business environment that is fiercely competitive.
this nerve wracking and high velocity approach show up more than in the
modus operandi of many bosses.
Learning how to function
with a difficult boss is one of the hardest challenges you face in your
work life. Have you heard the saying that people don’t leave jobs,
they leave their bosses? So true! You can love your job but if you hate
your boss, you will hate going to work. And you won’t last long.
So how do you deal
with a difficult boss?
This month I profile
two types of bosses: The Screamer and The Hypocrite.
See if you recognize your boss.
Don’t you just
love this type of boss? NOT. At least she is predictable. You can rest
assured that she will erupt like clockwork.
Watch for the telltale
signs prior to erupting. Her brow will furl, eyebrows will rise and you
can see the veins popping in her neck. Sometimes, she’ll just explode without any warning or provocation.
The screamer burns
out quickly. And she won’t remember what she said 15 minutes later.
Screamers don’t want to be interrupted; you’ll make matters
worse if you try to respond. Batten down the hatches while she blows off
steam. If you can’t remove yourself, at least you know that this
eruption usually doesn’t last long. As with a child having a tantrum,
you have to wait till the child runs out of tears and energy.
with The Screamer
After the high volume
tirade stops and you have an opening, probe to find out what’s behind
the loud stream of words. Deliberately lower the volume of your voice
and the tone of the discourse.
Ask: “I want
to make sure I understand; can we go over the most important points?”
Learn to judge the
best times to approach her. Tone of voice, body language, time of day,
all these hold signs of her emotional barometer. That’s the key
to getting what you need and avoiding many of her outbursts.
One note of caution,
you need to have a thick skin to deal with this type of boss. If you’re
easily offended or take things personally (it’s hard not to when
someone is screaming at you!), you’ll need an attitude adjustment
or you will burn out. My best advice is to watch other people who work
well with her, and follow their lead.
This boss says one
thing but really means another. The hypocrite will say he wants you to
take the lead but what he means is if you try to overstep your authority,
he’ll embarrass you in front of staff members. Or he will say the
company is hard pressed for cash and then you’ll find that he’s
bought a designer suit and is planning a vacation in Europe. He is a master
at talking out of both sides of his mouth. What you see is definitely
not what you get!
with the Hypocrite
You need to figure
out if your boss is just moody or if his behavior is done with intent.
This is a huge distinction. If your boss’s behavior comes from mood
swings, you need to keep your reactions as consistent as possible.
Whether things are
good or bad, you need to control how you respond and not join your boss
on his emotional rollercoaster. Be patient and professional at all times.
Use a “charge neutral” voice, an even, unemotional tone.
On the other hand,
if he alters his behavior to manipulate you, he is on power trip and patience
and professionalism on your part won’t work. You’ll need to
prepare an exit strategy and eventually, leave.
I’ll focus on two additional boss archetypes — The Ego Maniac
and The Risk Averse Boss. Stay tuned for tips!