Do you work for the boss from hell? If so, you can suffer, bail out, or take action.
If you’d rather not put up with your boss, but the economy or other reasons keep you from finding a new job, managing your relationship with your current boss may help you keep your sanity.
Ask yourself, “What does my boss expect of me and how can I meet and exceed those expectations?” Figure out what your boss wants, be on your “A” game, help her achieve her goals, and you may reap the benefits.
You can’t change your boss, but you can work on yourself. Don’t let your boss’s behavior push you into self-defeating behavior. Instead, ask yourself, “What creates problems between my boss and me, and what part do I play in creating or continuing these problems?”
If he’s a mess
If you work for a frustrating or incompetent supervisor who’s dragging you down, stay sane by helping him. Remind him about deadlines, offer to gather the information he needs, and present him with proposed solutions. If your supervisor waffles in the face of decisions, give him the facts and support he needs to move forward. The choice is yours—you can suffer his incompetence or work to improve the situation.
Do you work for a compulsively workaholic boss who considers you her slave, swamping you with an unrealistic workload? Earn your boss’s trust by working at a steady “pedal to the metal” 65 mph all day long. Then, when she dishes out too many “over the top” assignments, ask “which ones are your priorities so I can work on those first?” If she passes you an assignment just before quitting time, respond “I’ll take this home and get as much done as I can” or “I’ve got a commitment tonight but will come in an hour early and start.” By saying what you can do, you short-stall concerns that you won’t do what’s asked.
You’re never good enough
If your boss finds it easier to criticize than to praise, consider her criticism an opportunity to learn and grow. The next time she tells you “this report isn’t clear,” ask “which sections need clarification?” By learning the standards by which she judges your work, you reduce the volume of criticism coming your way and become sharper at your game.
When your boss’s behavior stresses you, you might be tempted to bring your frustration home and let the stress bleed into your evening. Instead, do something you love immediately after work and leave your stress at the workplace. Consider every night a vacation from your job.
Talk to HR
If you’ve done your best, and nothing’s worked, talked to HR. They may be able to counsel your boss or mediate between the two of you. Or, if you’re close to a tipping point, dust off your resume and vote with your feet. A problem boss can prove toxic; perhaps it’s time to put him in the rearview mirror.