6 Do's and Don'ts that empower you to handle a difficult boss with ease
You have the job of your dreams, your colleagues are supportive, the office is in a great location, and company perks sweeten the deal. Unfortunately, you’re saddled with an unpleasant boss who for no rhyme or reason favors your colleague over you.
It’s understandably a difficult situation to navigate, but if you really value your job, then not all hope is lost. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for handling a flaky boss:
1. Identify your own mistakes
Let’s face it, you’re probably guilty too. Try to observe behaviors that might get on your boss’s nerves and minimize them as much as possible. Do whatever you can to make sure you’re not giving this person an excuse to come after you.
Consider coming in earlier and handing in work before the deadline. If your boss is really biased, you might not become employee of the month, but you can possibly stop a toxic work pattern. If the nit picking continues despite your best efforts, you can be assured it’s not because of your work.
2. Find out what makes them tick
After having to deal with the mood swings of a biased boss, empathizing with them may not be on your mind. However, understanding their drives will help you see things from their perspective.
Try to understand their fears, expectations, and insecurities to gain a deeper insight into why they do what they do. Speak their language, support their efforts, and they might have a change of heart. Take note of their leadership style, and adapt your work ethics to match their preferences.
3. Document everything
Hopefully it doesn’t have to be that way, but if you need to get HR involved, make sure you have a paper trail to backup your claim. Meticulously keep track of every single exchange you’ve had with your boss, including emails, texts, and memos, amongst others.
It’s crucial to take note of how a difficult situation was created and developed, especially if someone else will look at it objectively.
1. Pour your heart out to your colleagues
Battling a tyrannical boss can make you embittered, but that doesn’t mean you should start spilling the unsavory details of your conflict to colleagues, as you don’t know where loyalties lie.
Remember that news travels fast - especially in smaller offices. If your boss manages to get wind of your gossiping, your job will be at stake. Even if you talk to a trusted colleague, talking behind someone’s back is unprofessional behavior. However, try talking to a close friend, family member or mentor outside of work, as they might have been in similar situations and can help you navigate the issue.
2. Be afraid of your boss
Stand your ground. The best way to deal with a boss, whose modus operandi is to excessively criticise or bully employees, is to not give in. No matter how rude or abusive they get, the onus lies on you to be the bigger person and not respond with anger.
Reacting negatively to anything they say will only give them an opportunity to single you out. Remain calm in moments of stress and work towards diffusing every unpleasant encounter to spin the situation in your favour.
3. Be in a rush to quit
While dealing with an unpleasant boss on a daily basis might be wearisome, it may be a better option than unemployment. Take your time to assess the situation, and ask yourself if your professional relationship has gotten to a point where things are unsalvageable.
Before you undertake any drastic moves, be sure to secure an alternative job or an internal transfer, so your career is not derailed. If you are sure about changing your job, do your due diligence by researching the culture and managerial practices of the new company.