Difficult boss – here is help

Difficult boss – here is help

 Difficult boss - here is help

We’ve all had them, those cranky bosses who make life difficult! It isn’t easy working for a difficult boss.

I’m not talking about bullies. I’m talking here about people who find it difficult to get on with other people but end up in charge of others.  In a fair world they wouldn’t be there, but no one said that life was fair?

These cranky bosses create lots of stress in the workplace. If you have one and manage a team yourself, it’s up to you to relieve the stress. Then you will all be able to concentrate on the real job.

If you want to stay, you are going to have to find a way to work with your cranky boss. So, you need a strategy.

Here are some tips;

Find a common interest.  How much do you know about your boss?  See what you can find out.  What are they interested in?  Where have they come from and where do they want to go?  What are they trying to achieve in this role?  See if you can find some common ground.

Show how you can help them. If you are good at your job, don’t let your boss feel you are competing with them. Make sure what you do supports them. Work hard not to resent them getting credit for your hard work.

Don’t jump to conclusions. 
Try to keep an open mind, don’t start to assume that your boss is going to be difficult about everything. Start expecting and behaving as if your boss is going to behave reasonably until he/she proves otherwise.

Stand between the boss and your team. Recognize it is your job to protect them. Make sure their contribution is recognized and stand up for them when you need to.

If your boss becomes emotional, stay calm. 
Acknowledge the emotion, for example; “I understand that you are upset.” But try not to become upset yourself. Don’t react with emotion to emotional outburst. Try to show understanding without being patronizing.

Keep focused on the work and what needs to be done Address the problem and sort out practical solutions and some options. Reassure your boss that you are going to solve the problem if you can.

Manage your own emotions. 
You might find yourself getting angry or upset with your boss. Take some deep breaths concentrating on breathing out, then count to ten.  If necessary take some timeout and go to the bathroom.  Do whatever you need to do to calm down.

Stay real. If you have a difficult boss, remember, the problem is about them, not you.

Build the relationship

Do your best to build a relationship that works with your boss.  If you can’t, then only you know whether it is worth staying around.  Long term low morale does erode confidence. And if the boss’s behaviour slides into bullying you need to take advice –in the UK you can ring the National Bullying Help Line on 0845 22 55 787.

Use the power of good relationship building before and during all negotiations with your difficult boss. People sometimes forget than former opponents often make the strongest allies. You may find that a well-managed approach, working things through with your boss and trying to see their point of view, will earn their respect over time. It may even mean you get that promotion!

I’ve written an eBook on how to get on with your boss. You can find it at this link.  Working with a coach really can help in these kind of situations – my email address is below.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link


6 thoughts on “Difficult boss – here is help”

  1. Hi Wendy – excellent tips. I agree there are people who manage to make it to senior positions with inter-personal skills defficiencies but are valued for other reasons. Perhaps they are functional specialists who need to interact less frequently with others. I agree staying neutral is key!

    1. Thank you Dorothy – yes, I think you make a very important point. Functional specialists may well need support, coaching and further training when they move into senior management roles

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