Managing a difficult boss, can make life hell and can be a very upsetting and devastating experience. Remember your feelings are completely natural and can range from depression, low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, through to a loss of confidence at work.
Difficult bosses or supervisors can range from subtle manipulation, to the pushy ‘do it my way or take the highway’ approach, through to downright abusive behaviour.
So just how to you manage a difficult boss?
Don’t take it personally
Yep, I’m sure you think this suggestion is a really silly one, in particular if you are in the middle of a work crisis and an overbearing thug of a boss at work dictates your whole world. But if you have a thug of a boss, it is probably because they have a controlling-type personality and would use the same stand-over tactics on someone else. It just happens that currently that ‘someone’ just happens to be you.
So don’t take it so personally and remember you have complete control over how you react to a situation. You can go home and cry in the corner, or you can get a ‘can do’ attitude, where you refuse to be intimated and personally affected by another person’s demeaning behaviour. (I know – easier said than done, but people who succeed understand the principle that although they sometimes have no control over circumstances, they always have control over how they react to circumstances).
Reflect on your own work performance
Work relations go both ways, so it is important to reflect on your own work performance and behaviour. Nobody likes criticism, but sometimes criticism from your boss might be justified, so take a close look at your own actions, before you think the boss is ‘specifically picking on you’.
Prepare an escape route
It will be difficult to confront really abusive behaviour, unless you have a back up plan. By a back up plan, I mean it is important to create opportunities in which if the worst-case scenario played out (you lost your job), you had another job you could walk into.
By having an escape route, you also get rid of any fear in confronting the situation head on. I mean, if you have another job you can walk into, the worst-case scenario of losing your job, is a ‘walk in the park’.
Get on the boss’s wavelength
OK, there might be a major personality clash, which is why it might be difficult working under your current boss or supervisor. If the boss is not abusive, but just manipulative, or just plain old bossy, your best way forward, might be getting on your supervisors wave length. Possible positive actions you could take could include complimenting them for something they did well, rephrasing questions so they don’t sound confrontational, making an effort to communicate with your boss, through to becoming a problem solver not a whiner.
If you keep it professional, you could possibly win your boss over!
Don’t react emotionally
By not reacting emotionally, you have actually taken the punch away from your abusive boss, in particular if your boss thrives on confrontation!
By not reacting emotionally, you can also come across as the professional staff member, rather than giving the perception to those higher up in the ranks, that you are a staff member simply difficult to manage.
Document all bad behaviour
If you eventually decide to file a complaint then do so with lots of evidence of their inappropriate behaviour. To get this evidence, start diligently documenting their behaviour and if possible use the email to start recording and documenting their activities, as well as your achievements on the job.