The saying, “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” is all too often true in the workforce. Having a bad boss or manager may seem like the end of the world- or job- to a hard working employee. They have the potential to hurt your career, whether they fail to provide feedback, give you unfair performance reviews, or are just downright unbearable. However, there are some ways to manage a difficult manager to make life a little bit easier. At least once in your career, you are bound to encounter a poor manager or boss, so learning how to make the situation better can be incredibly useful.
Approach your manager as if he or she were a client. Begin by identifying their primary motivations. The more that you understand your bosses expectations; the better you will be at delivering results that they desire. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes by asking questions like, what does he or she care about? What frightens him or her? How does he or she measure success and failure? The ability to answer these questions allows you to frame your opinions and language to better please your manager. Understanding your manager on a deeper level will help create an open-minded, sympathetic attitude towards your superior. Adapt to their preferences; learn their pet peeves and communicative style. This approach of matching your style to your boss’s will better your chance of a cohesive relationship.
The next step to forming a better relationship with your difficult boss is to work around their weaknesses. Most weaknesses can be turned in to strengths if tweaked enough. Focus on his natural strengths to detract from his weaknesses. Aiding your manager with his or her weaknesses will improve your relationship and increase your performance reviews. For example, if your boss is disorganized, help organize instead of complaining about it. Your boss will greatly appreciate the extra help and you will greatly appreciate the necessary organization for a successful work environment. Little things like this go a long way in improving your relationship and work environment.
How you handle a bad boss can be used as a representation of you, a bad boss is no excuse for a bad worker. The way you handle a bad boss will set yourself apart, whether it is good or bad. No matter how frustrating your boss’s bad behavior can be, do not let yourself gain a sense of entitlement to slack off or lose interest in your job. You can never be sure who is watching, so facing a bad boss with an upbeat and accommodating attitude can greatly pay off in the long run. Avoid office gossip and venting to coworkers to maintain a professional demeanor. Taking the hire road will never hurt you, only help you.
Finally, if you really have an issue with something your boss is saying or doing speak up. Nothing will change unless you make your voice heard. Giving your boss a chance to respond opens up communication that can benefit both your relationship and your work. Your boss may be unaware of something they are doing, and would greatly appreciate the feedback. Broach the conversation in a professional and respectful manner to avoid making your boss feel attacked. If the conversation goes south, at least you know that you tried to communicate how you were feeling.
In the end, handling poor bosses is an experience that most of us will have to go through at some point or another in life. By approaching them with professionalism and understanding, you have the ability to turn a poor situation in to a learning opportunity.
Written By: O. Greendyk