Inbox: How to deal with bad bosses

The recent release of the black comedy film Horrible Bosses provides an extreme version of scenario many workers can relate to. It’s also something that New Zealand organisations should be concerned about since research by finance and accounting recruiter Robert Half shows half of the workforce would look for opportunities elsewhere if they had some conflict with their manager.
Robert Half New Zealand general manager Megan Alexander explains bad bosses aren’t necessarily bad people, but they can certainly make work challenging for those who report to them. Robert Half identifies five common types of challenging executives and has the following tips for working with them:   

Boss type
1. The micromanager has trouble delegating tasks. When assigning project, this boss tells you exactly how, when and where to do it.

2. The poor communicator provides little or no direction. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute or redone because goals and deadlines weren’t clearly explained.

3. The bully wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all. Bosses like this also tend to be gruff with others and easily frustrated.
4. The saboteur undermines the efforts of others and rarely recognises individuals for job well done. This boss takes credit for employee ideas but places blame on others when projects go awry.

5. The mixed bag is always surprise. This manager’s moods are typically unpredictable: He or she may confide in you one day and turn cold shoulder the next.   

Coping strategy
1. Try not to take this boss’s disposition personally. calm and composed demeanour is best when dealing with this type. When this person is on edge, try to limit communication unless matter is urgent.

2. Make sure your contributions are more visible to others, especially senior management, so that your role isn’t overlooked. Get information in writing from this person so you have chain of communications to refer to, if needed.

3. Stand up for yourself. The next time your supervisor shoots down your proposal, for example, calmly explain your rationale. Often, this type of manager will relent when presented with voice of reason.

4. Diplomatically point out that by providing more information upfront, time will be saved in the long run. Seek clarification when confused and arrange regular check-ins on projects.

5. Trust is usually the issue here, so try to do everything in your power to build it. Don’t miss deadlines, pay attention to details and keep your manager apprised of all the steps you’ve taken to ensure quality work.

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