Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Manage A Bad Boss
Bad supervisors come in a variety of models. For example, there’s the Micromanager who nitpicks about the font size in your e-mails, there’s the Royal Pain who treats you like a personal assistant, there’s the Office Politician who takes credit for all your hard work, and there’s the Lead Grunt who was only promoted because of seniority and shoots down any attempt at change. When you manage a bad boss, it pays to know which model stands before you. No matter what the specific flaws are, bad bosses all have one thing in common: they can’t be ignored. Complying with your supervisor’s abusive behavior or working around incompetent decisions is tantamount to saying that these poor management techniques work on you, and it’s only a matter of time before this affects your health and self-esteem. Here are five tips to help you when you manage a bad boss.
Always keep your cool
No matter how frustrated you get when you have to manage a bad boss, it’s important that you remain calm and composed at all times. Getting angry in front of your employer or your colleagues makes you look like the bad guy, and it may affect your professional reputation. Keep in mind that people usually don’t realize that they’re being bad bosses; a simple, non-confrontational observation is often all that’s needed to make them reconsider their approach. If your supervisor is of the Royal Pain variety, try casually repeating his or her unreasonable request as if to confirm it: “You’d like me to find your daughter a camel for her birthday before six o’clock tonight?”
Dress your issues as business concerns
When you manage a bad boss and express your misgivings, treat the conversation like any other business meeting. In other words, keep the tone neutral and be solution-minded. Instead of complaining about what your supervisor is doing wrong, discuss management changes that can improve the department as a whole. Micromanagers are particularly receptive to this strategy because it allows them to feel like they’re still in control of everything. You should also avoid bringing up personal issues. Bad bosses, especially Lead Grunts, often have trouble with the notion that maintaining employee morale is part of their responsibilities. As a result, your complaints may be perceived as petulant.
Communicate in writing
When you manage a bad boss you'll be required you to always follow up any verbal agreement with an e-mail confirmation, and make sure to CC at least one other person in the company. In fact, if you have an important request or proposal to make, it’s best to do it entirely in writing, especially if your boss is an Office Politician. Since written communication is considered official record, your supervisor is more likely to pay attention to your comments. You’re also covering your ass in case anything goes wrong and your boss tries to blame you. Similarly, you should keep a private journal to record the date of every conflict or incident and detail the respective actions you and your supervisor have taken. This will come in handy if you need to make a formal complaint.
Don’t compromise yourself when you manage a bad boss