How to deal with a boss

1. Recognise the problem
If possible try and tackle the problem, but first, recognise exactly what it is. For example, bosses can be:
? Inconsistent Ñ warm, supportive, and encouraging one day; aloof, rigid and uncompromising the next.
? Inflexible Ñ unable or unprepared to change when it’s obvious that new direction is required.
? Closed Ñ reluctant to provide oral feedback leading others to deduce meaning.
? Manipulative Ñ getting people to ?perform’ by using carrot or stick approaches to motivation, and by making promises they have no intention of honouring.
? Exploitative Ñ continuing to assign tasks to those who never complain.
? Inactive Ñ demonstrating lack of control of people and of projects; even lazy.
In Never Work for Jerk!, Patricia King identified the really difficult bosses, scoundrels and liars, slave drivers and bullies, ignoramuses and incompetents, cheapskates and skin-flints, blowhards and egomaniacs. Can you pinpoint the problem with your boss’ behaviour?

2. Take your choice
If your boss is liability, you have three choices; cope with the situation, try to improve the way you’re managed, or look for another job.

3. Cope with the current situation
You can handle this in two ways by moaning, complaining, becoming stressed, even ill, or by making the most of the situation, being positive and using the following approaches:
? Keep things in perspective. Make it practice not to take things personally. Remember, your boss has the problem, not you.
? Keep your cool. Others, too, are likely to be affected by your boss’ actions, so let your responses to the boss’ actions set an example for others to follow.
? Learn from your boss. Problem behaviours will identify for you the way not to do things, thereby saving you from falling into similar traps.
? Get as much satisfaction from your job as you can by doing your job well. Find other competent people in the company and work with them to absorb the most destructive influences of your boss.
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4. Improve the situation
Some bosses may be unaware of any problem. Most would be eager to address their faults if they knew about them. But remember to focus on the behaviour not the person. Describe it as you see it, indicate its impact on others, including customers, and on productivity. Offer your help if you can.
If the upfront approach isn’t appropriate, then consider ways of changing your boss’ behaviour in small ways:
? Understand your boss. Compare the way you both work and find workable links.
? Strengthen your people skills. Your ability to get along with others, including the boss, should be one of your most important qualities.
? Take more active role to make up for the boss’ inadequacies Ñ but always work through your boss so your actions aren’t seen as undermining.
? Record everything Ñ especially if your boss is the type who denies or distorts what you’ve discussed.
? If your boss lets you down, let him/her know Ñ and why.
? Discuss strategies with fellow managers on how to deal with his/her undesirable behaviour.
? Consider any machinery that exists for lodging an official complaint.

5. Consider looking for another job
Always keep your options open but, if your situation is intolerable and unlikely to change, get yourself another job Ñ either transfer within the company or new job elsewhere. Having made that decision, regard your current state as temporary. Once you have made the decision to go, make sure your energies are focused on your next step.

From Just about Everything Manager Needs to Know, by Neil Flanagan & Jarvis Finger, Plum Press. Copy information to email: [email protected]; fax: (04)528 9916

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