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Tackling a Bad Boss

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Tackling a Bad Boss

Read on for hacks to have a better relationship with your boss…

Years ago, I remember seeing a recruitment ad for an IT company in a magazine. The gist was, since it is difficult to part with your boss, bring him along! Yes, a good boss is often a reason employees stay on even if they have other reasons to quit. So, if your boss is bad, then can a great pay keep you back?

It may not, but if no other avenues open up, then you have to grin and bear. Is there any way you can make things better? Here are some tips….

Assess the boss: First off, evaluate if you really have a bad boss. Even bosses are human, and he/she could be going through a tough time. If the boss has difficulty managing anger, you may want to understand what triggers it. He could have an inferiority complex, and while you are not responsible for that, you may have to be careful about how you take credit for your work without making him or her feel small.

Assess the style: Different people follow different management styles. Some believe in leading by example, some are informal, some believe in hierarchy. Suit your behavior to match the requirement.

Focus on your work: Action speaks louder than words. Let your work speak for you, rather than trying to prove a point. Detach your emotions from work and deal with the situations as they arise. Even if your boss gets emotional, remember to remain professional.

Anticipate needs: Your boss maybe demanding and exacting. When a task is assigned, spend a while reviewing scope and detail what is needed. Be a step ahead and give some time for iterations, if required.

Document everything: Requests, criticisms, feedback…document everything so that there is no room for misunderstanding or confusion. Clarify every statement to get a clear understanding of his/her instructions, giving your boss an opportunity to expand where required. Record it as minutes of meeting and share. Read what you write carefully, to avoid room for confusion and further disagreements.

Take charge: A bad boss is not just one who rages and demands. An indecisive boss can also be a nightmare to work with. Take the lead in such cases.

While you do your best to make the best of what you have, also explore other avenues of dealing with the problem. Some ways to handle this would be:

Talk straight: Ask for time to discuss the problems you are facing and how the two of you can work together better. Be proactive about it and approach it with professionalism. Do not make it a personality issue, but understand what it is that your boss expects, and how sometimes his/her behavior can confuse you. Discuss communication, your performance and his/her expectations. Be open to criticism, let your boss have his/her say, accept where you agree and promise to genuinely evaluate the comments even if you disagree.

Be a partner: Even good bosses can turn bad if they feel you are not helping them achieve their goals. Be supportive and helpful, contributing to improving the performance of your team, department or project.

Avoid bypassing your boss: While it may be tempting to escalate the issue, it can in fact aggravate the problem. Keep going to your boss’ boss as a last option, when nothing else works, or if your boss has behaved in an inappropriate manner, based on your age, gender, race, or any other factor.

If the situation is beyond repair, seek a transfer within the organization. Remember not to speak ill of your former boss and provide a genuine reason for wanting the transfer – better growth prospects, an interest in work done by that team, relevant qualifications, etc.

Of course, seek another company if nothing else works out. But, lest it become a case of ‘from fire into frying pan’, research the team and the boss before joining.