Management Monday… Managing the Boss
Feeling suppressed? You were excelling in your company until you got that promotion, but now you seem to be the focus of rivalry. This isn’t a rare situation. According to Inc., three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. Growing professionals often experience authoritative competitiveness from their own managers when moving up the ranks. Unfortunately, bosses have been known to single out their successful successors, scrutinizing their every move. Why? Well, they may feel threatened. Or they may be simply taking out their problems on the easiest target, as was the case with AOL CEO Time Armstrong who rudely fired an employee during a company-wide conference. No matter your title, you’re susceptible to workplace bullying and unfair treatment.
However, if you’ve found you are in this kind of situation, all is not lost. Not so unlike Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, you’ve got an issue of being targeted by authority. You may not be touring the country as the victor of a brutal slaughter like Katniss in Catching Fire, but similar to Katniss who must stand up to the Panem Government, you’ve got to overcome suppression. Conflict in the workplace is a touchy topic, but allowing it to go unaddressed will leave you stressed and unhappy. However, unlike Katniss, you can refrain from using a bow and arrow, because we’ve got some other ideas for facing this challenge.
How to Deal with a Difficult Boss:
Rely on your emotional intelligence skills to determine what is causing your boss’ behavior. You can’t bake a cake without understand what flavors make it taste good, just like you can’t improve a relationship without knowing what can be improved to make it more positive. Take some time to observe your employer’s behavior and try to put yourself in their shoes. Management roles are high pressure. Assess if they’re catching slack from their superior, or if they’re struggling with problems at home. It could be they’re genuinely dissatisfied with your performance. Find a way to empathize. Determining their motives will help you establish a frame work for the next step.
After you are able to better understand where your boss is coming from, develop a strategy for change.
Your boss is struggling with their management or work life balance issues?
Keep that in mind during every day conversations. Instead of allowing an interaction to take a negative turn toward you, be pre-emptive in inquiring how your boss is doing that day. Vocalize empathy toward their troubles and ask how you can help. Keep in mind; this isn’t about the phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This is about genuinely forming a positive attitude and setting an example of emotional intelligence that your boss will likely follow. Give this approach time, and see if your interactions improve.
Your boss is struggling with mistreatment from their upper management?
This is common and can cause a trickledown effect, leaving you to be the brunt of the situation. Again, you can try an empathetic approach to become a better supporter of their needs, which will in turn encourage their behavior to improve. Set a trend in the office of maintaining a positive attitude despite difficult situations. The boss may have just yelled at everyone in the staff meeting for thirty minutes, but before leaving you can point out what went well in the discussion and conclude with an encouraging statement “Nice Meeting!”
Your boss is genuinely unsatisfied with your performance, so you’re treated poorly?
Being in tune with the other person’s struggles isn’t always the answer. Your employer may genuinely be unhappy with your attitude or performance. Does this dissatisfaction excuse poor behavior? No. But if you’ve realized this is the cause for inappropriate behavior, try to figure out their style. Take a few minutes to check out the SPM model of leadership. Some people are motivated by interaction, while others are motivated by tasks and still others want to see numbers. Most likely, if you can figure out how your manager assesses performance, then you can better show your accomplishments to keep them satisfied. For example, a story mentioned in Forbes’ How To ‘Manage Up’ A Difficult Boss, described a disgruntled employee whose boss was over her shoulder nonstop tracking progress. After working with a counselor, the employee developed a spreadsheet system so the boss could view the status of each facility at any time. This solution greatly improved the working relationship.
Every situation is unique. The strategies above have been proven to work in certain scenarios, but a quick fix isn’t always realistic. If you’ve tried all the methods you can imagine or read about, but still feel trapped, consider reporting the situation to Human Resources (depending on policy) or get in touch with us about our conflict resolution training. We’re here to help.