Updated: Oct 24, 2019
There is no perfect world, there is no perfect job, and definitely there is no perfect boss. We all seem to have our ups and downs with our bosses. However, a difficult boss is—and will remain—the main reason for people struggling in their work. “People join companies and leave managers” will remain a correct statement for a long time until we can figure out a way to solve the boss-subordinate lack of harmony issues that may cause us to miss promotion, struggle with our careers, and even sometimes quit our jobs.
This is the second part of the post "the ten amendments to help you dealing with a difficult boss."
6. Speak up!
Build the habit of regularly talking to your boss and discussing your performance with him/her. Don’t wait till there’s something wrong then start talking to your boss, rather make this a habit from day one. 1) Call for office or offline meetings, try to make them as casual as possible, 2) Show your progress in the work you’re doing, and show that the tasks assigned are going as planned, 3) Ask for advice or suggestions for the issues you’re facing and how you are moving ahead in overcoming them (don’t ask your boss to find you solutions, ask them to analyze/approve the solution you come up with. Read 'Boss Don't Preach!' in my book)
This kind of frequent discussion will enrich the relationship with your boss, and will probably show the boss that you’re trying your best to add value to the work, and that you’re also easy to work with. It also ensures that you’re both at the same page when it comes to the challenges facing your work.
7. Understand your boss
We try to understand our children and see things from their perspectives in order to be able to deal with them, we also try to understand our spouses and the turbulences they may be going through in order to keep our family happy and intact. What some of us don’t realize is that we spend considerable part of our lives with our bosses, so we need to understand them as well to build this rapport and bond that will help us move ahead in harmony. Trying to understand what your boss actually cares about, what are his worries and fears when it comes to fulfilling his duties, what are his ons and offs at work, and how he measures his own success and the success of others are all important points to understand in order to build this harmony with your boss. So, try to understand your boss, and show him that you’re trying to understand. Use the open discussion sessions that we discussed in the “speak up” point to ask for clarifications and understanding. This will help you see things from your boss’s point of view, and also it will tell your boss that you’re trying hard to work closely with him or her.
8. Yes, it should affect you. No, it shouldn’t affect your work
One of the most difficult things you face when dealing with a difficult boss is to show him that his aggressive or abusive behaviour is affecting you negatively, but at the same time it is not affecting the quality or the pace of your work. You need to show your boss that his actions that you see unacceptable have their own negative consequences, but at the same time to show him as well that you are professional enough to continue working without letting his behaviour affect you. Getting back at your boss by neglecting your work or missing your deadlines will add to your workload, erodes the professional look you’re building for yourself and your career, and it will build a case for your boss to continue in his negative behaviours directed towards you.
9. Working with a dragon? Then learn to dodge the fireballs!
If there is one thing positive about a bad behaviour of a boss, it will be that this behaviour is predictable. Whether it is over-controlling, micromanagement, aggressiveness, favouritism, or any other type of negative behaviour, you tend to learn about it after couple of interactions with your boss. Learn to avoid confrontations and to put off any friction flames by anticipating your boss’s expectations and predicting his reactions then making sure to get things done up to his expectations and in the way he wants it.
I’m not saying that you twist everything you do to please your boss, I’m saying be smart enough to avoid conflicts by fulfilling the job requirements and your boss’s expectations as well and show that you can work in harmony with him. Identify what triggers your boss’s anger and avoiding it is the wise thing to do.
10. Set your boundaries
In many cases, the attitude of your boss stems from the fact that you haven’t established clear boundaries in your work. If you don’t have clear boundaries for your work-life balance, then your boss may overload you with extra assignments. If you don’t set clear limits to the way you can be spoken to then your boss may use a communication style that you don’t appreciate.
As the American psychologist Dr Henry Cloud states it “You get what you tolerate.” Setting boundaries can be difficult and challenging at the beginning, but they are essential to healthy work relationships especially with an abusive boss. When done tactfully, setting boundaries will help you fulfill your career potential. I will talk about setting boundaries in detail in a separate post.