So Your Boss is Impossible to Deal With. Now What?

deal with boss

There’s an old saying that goes: people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

If you think through the previous jobs you have left, there’s a decent chance that it was because of your boss or senior leadership at the company. When you start a new job, it’s easy to fall in love with the culture, your colleagues (platonically speaking), and your work. And that’s because you usually know what you are getting into before you sign on. The one thing you can’t always predict is how your boss operates and manages on a daily basis – the Dr. Jekyll you met while interviewing has been replaced by someone -or something- unrecognizable.

Bosses don’t often realize they are creating toxic work environments. Often, there are personal or professional emotional drivers that make them act the way they do, and to identify those emotional drivers is no easy task unless you ask your boss directly. Short of having that potentially awkward conversation, you can look for clues in their actions and management style to determine how to improve the relation and manage up.

In our Executive Outlook Series, ‘Managing Up: How to Get Ahead and Work Effectively With any Type of Manager, we identified the four most commonly encountered problems professionals have with their boss.

The Four Types of Bosses You Need to Manage:

  1. The Micromanager

This boss requires you to report everything you do or plan to do. And they will often interfere or block you every step of the way. These are the bosses and managers who were very successful in their previous role (which might be yours) and although they are now in a management role, they insist that they can still do your job better than anyone else. Rather than lead you and the team, they want to tell you how to do the job as successfully as they did without letting you put any personality or ideas into your work. This leads to trust issues. The micromanager feels that they can only trust themselves. As a result, those who can’t identify the trust issues and manage up will quit or be miserable.

Also read: How to Manage a Micromanager

  1. The Unsupportive Manager

You’ve been working for ‘MegaCorp’ for 5 years. You’ve made the company boatloads of money and your boss has given you great feedback. But your colleagues are the ones getting promotions. While your projects may be receiving plaudits, your boss hasn’t actually learned about your aspirations, goals, and interest in getting promoted. The unsupportive manager doesn’t speak with each person on their team individually to learn these things. Instead, they allow office politics to fester and will ultimately give promotions to those who can play the game. Don’t expect promotions or handouts from them, you need to learn how to communicate with them in order to advance.

  1. The Disconnected Manager

Similar to the unsupportive manager, the disconnected manager likely has a large team and little time. But as opposed to noticing the impressive work you’ve done and demonstrating how happy they are with your work, they don’t even know you exist. They are oblivious! This manager is too caught up with minutia to recognize the individual contributions that their highest performers are making. This manager probably also has a small group of pals who have formed a clique that you can’t seem to break in to. It’s up to you to (respectfully) get their attention, learn what they think about you, and determine how you can take on more responsibility and better serve them.

  1. The Emotionally Volatile Manager

Potentially the most dangerous to a work environment – and one of the most commonly encountered, the Emotionally Volatile Manager changes moods every day, or hour. They can lash out for no reason and have no problem yelling at you in public. Understand her point of view and respond only to her valid points — not the emotional ones. In her way, she is trying to communicate, however ineffective and unpleasant. By ignoring the anger, and focusing on the underlying issue that is driving her frustration, you should be able to diffuse the fiery situation. Hopefully, understanding a bit more about what’s making her tick will also make it easier to tolerate her outbursts.

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