Think about your boss. If the image of your superior doesn’t automatically anger and frustrate you, consider yourself lucky. If you even like your boss, don’t ever take that job for granted. Not every boss in your career will see eye to eye with you on work issues, and some might have a management style that clashes with your personality. You may even encounter a few that are downright abusive. If you’re stuck in this position, it doesn’t mean you need to start looking for a new job. Just try some of these tips for dealing with a difficult boss no matter where you work. You’ll build some character, learn some new people skills, and be able to enjoy your job more.
Offer a solution
There are all kinds of bad bosses out there, whether they micromanage, don’t communicate effectively, or bully their employees. When you’ve identified what it is about your boss that really gets under your skin, think of a solution you can offer to make your interactions run more smoothly. It will come off as a constructive suggestion rather than a criticism. Tell them you’d like to see if you’re more efficient when they only check in on you once a day, ask if they’d consider writing weekly email updates about your project, or come up with a feasible, positive solution to your specific problem. Bullying can be harder to resolve, but addressing the problem with specific activities that offend you is the first step in the right direction.
Don’t get emotional
The worst reaction to your boss’ frustrating behaviors is to lose your cool. No matter the situation, it’s important to stay professional and not let your emotions get the best of you. If you can feel yourself getting worked up, take a break before you address the issue. Walk around, get some air, and make sure you rein your emotions back in before talking to your boss. Take the time to collect yourself if you’re meeting one-on-one with your boss; even excuse yourself briefly if you need to. This will look much better than losing your temper, getting defensive, or sobbing. You want your boss to take your feedback seriously, and it’ll be easier for him to discount your opinions if he can claim you’re acting irrationally.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the annoying things your boss is doing, but don’t forget to consider the role you play in the conflict. Consider how you handle situations and whether your boss is responding to things you’re doing. Are you consistently missing deadlines? Maybe that’s why he’s micromanaging you. Have you been interrupting others in brainstorming meetings? That could be discouraging him from choosing your ideas. At the very least, evaluating your job performance and interactions with the boss and other co-workers will reaffirm your position and possibly help you acknowledge some areas you can improve upon, an important tool if you and your boss try to compromise on an issue.
Make note of positive interactions
When you’re frustrated, your negative feelings can spiral out of control if you don’t keep them in check. What starts as mild annoyance can morph into full-blown hatred if you’re not careful. Make sure, even just for the sake of your own mental health, that you mentally acknowledge the positive things your boss does. Even small things can go a long way toward shaping a more neutral opinion of him, making it easier to deal with him on a daily basis. And if your boss has made an attempt to fix something that you’ve mentioned, don’t hesitate to tell him how much you appreciate it.
Take notes on negative behaviors
This is an especially important thing to do if you’ve got a bully for a boss. When you think of each offensive event individually, you might think you’re being petty and making a big deal out of nothing, but when you’ve kept track of all the occurrences over a week or month, you’ll see the larger trend of unacceptable behavior. This will make it easier to quantify your issues to your boss, and explain the scope of the problem if you have to take it to human resources. If you’re dealing with a boss who isn’t abusive, but just has management issues, keeping a log of certain activities can make it easier to show the boss what you’d like to see change.
Don’t go over your boss’ head
At least not immediately. If you take your beef with your boss to her supervisor, things are not going to be resolved between the two of you. Your boss may get a slap on the wrist or suggestions for better management, but she will undoubtedly resent you for hating on her in front of her boss. Your first step should always be to discuss the problems with your boss directly. If things don’t improve after several discussions with your boss and the issues are serious, such as abusive, bullying behavior, you can set up a meeting with the appropriate higher-up or HR. If you’ve been documenting the negative interactions and steps you’ve taken to correct it (see above), you’ll feel more justified in taking it up the chain of command.
Find a mentor in the company
Choosing a supervisor in your company that you trust and admire won’t only be good for advancing your career, but can also give you a go-to advisor for your boss issues. Don’t unload every personal problem onto your mentor like you would a friend, but do ask for professional advice on how best to handle the situation. You’ll get practical advice from a successful person in your field and have someone in your corner when you have to make hard decisions or if you try to make a lateral move in your company.
Okay, we know we said you weren’t going to have to quit your job because of your boss problems, but there are times when it’s just your best option. If the stress and frustration carries over into your personal life, the job may not be worth it. If your boss won’t stop insulting and bullying you no matter how many times you ask him to stop, it’s time to move on. But don’t use this opportunity to let him know how you feel. It’s essential to part on good terms (or as close to good as you can at this point). Be gracious and professional, and go out and find a boss who will appreciate what you have to offer.
Visit onlinebusinessdegree.org for more tips on dealing with workplace issues.