Managing Difficult Bosses

Managing Difficult Bosses

Sometimes, we  come into situations where we have to deal with difficult bosses. I heard a sales girl say on one occasion that her boss is impossible to please. That it doesn’t matter what you do, that he always finds something to complain about. Yes, this is the situation many people find themselves even though there are legal boundaries as to how difficult a boss can be. It becomes a criminal offense when such boundaries are crossed. In that case the appropriate law enforcement agency should be contacted. Within the legal boundaries still, it is important to point out that striving to please a boss is an action whose outcome you cannot determine. Different things please different people at different times. Satisfaction is purely dependent on the individual receiving it.

It is also important to note that it isn’t your job to keep your boss happy or to keep him entertained. Your job is to do your job. So perhaps the first step to follow in trying to build a working relationship with your difficult boss is to have a clear job description. 

Have a clear job description and stick to it : “The Wikipedia defines “A job description  as a written narrative that describes the general tasks, or other related duties, and responsibilities of a position. It may specify the functionary to whom the position reports, specifications such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job, information about the equipment, tools and work aids used, working conditions, physical demands, and a salary range “

Having a job description that is taken seriously can help eliminate some of the hurdles created by overlapping job functions. If a boss tries to override a job description, then it has to be with the permission of the employee, though it is common for that not to happen. Often times, friction occurs in jobs where roles are not clearly defined thereby giving some bosses the chance to take advantage of those existing gray areas.

Mind Your Business: Someone once  asked for my opinion on what to do as two of his immediate bosses were clashing frequently leaving him in the middle confused as to what to do or how to navigate those intricate spaces.  My advice to him was simple: mind your business. This is their battle not yours. so you are not expected to take sides or get involved in a clash of ego or personality.

Avoid Defamation: One reason why you have to avoid saying bad things about others is that you don’t get paid for it. Why not conserve your energy for the work you get paid for? Someone once said to me, “I avoid people who say a lot of unpleasant things about their friends or colleagues. I mean, if they can do that to these people who are close to them, what about me?  Bad words against a boss may eventually get back to them. Remember that walls have ears.

Identify His Interests: Finding out what interests him puts you in a position to know exactly what to do going forward. Some certain aspects of work may interest him more than others. It could be punctuality, it could be proficiency in carrying out some tasks or any other attribute.

Act Like A Professional: Don’t let his attitude affect your job. As much as you can, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Try to detach yourself from the surrounding conditions. This is difficult but also possible. Remember “only sticks and stones can break your bones”.

Use Your Initiative:  This also implies that you know when to take the lead, when to ask for instructions and also understand that he or she doesn’t know everything and could get stuck sometimes.

Show A Level of Self-Confidence: People with low self esteem seem to be picked out more often than others. In this instance, little triggers which they could ignore could give them a reason to react. Generally, people tend to attack the vulnerable; I don’t know why.

Be Unpredictable: A level of unpredictability can put difficult people off. When people realize there is an other side of you that can spring up in desperate times they feel reluctant to push you to that extreme. Occasionally show your other extreme  in a legal non-destructive way.

Show Empathy: This can also help to bring out the good side of the relatively bad. It is difficult to react violently or aggressively to people who have shown genuine interest in you. 

These are suggestions that can help anyone handle or manage a difficult boss. In extreme situations you may consider leaving the boss completely especially if your mental and physical health is getting affected in unbearable ways.

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