While many of us are fortunate to have a boss we respect and have a mutually understanding relationship with, some of us may not always be so lucky. If you’ve ended up with a difficult boss, don’t whittle away precious sanity pondering the many obstacles you face because she’s in charge. Instead, pick out your problem below and start putting the solutions into practice.
Problem Boss #1:
The Weekend Warrior
She has little regard for her own personal life and even less so for yours. She won’t hesitate to call Saturday morning meetings, or even worse, continually pester you on the phone at the most inconvenient times.
Solution: Set Your Boundaries
If your boss insists on meeting over the weekend, be sure to tell her in advance exactly how long you can stay. Try scheduling your appointment around a family obligation like, “My grandmother and I have tickets to a matinee. I can get to the office at ten but need to leave at noon on the dot.” Then, be certain to follow through. Try the same technique on the phone. Tell her at the start of the call how many minutes you can spare.
Problem Boss #2:
The Personal User
The online job description said ‘room to grow’. But so far the only things growing are your boss’s plants (which you’re expected to water!) In this day and age, it’s hard to believe that doing personal chores for your boss is an integral part of your job description. Aren’t you happy you graduated cum laude for the privilege!?
Solution: Develop a Personal Timeline
Try to persuade your boss to map out a timeline for your advancement; but if she won’t, don’t despair. Use the time to hatch your escape strategy. Reach out to managers of other departments, including human resources. Start applying for other, open positions in the company and soon you could jump to a job that frees you from the shackles of demeaning personal chores.
Problem Boss #3:
The Worry Wart
Your boss bumps into you in the hallway and says ever so casually, “I heard you’ve been having some back-and-forth with Peter. You really need to start including me on your email chains.” It’s the second time in less than two weeks that she’s suggested something similar. Translation: Your boss is on the verge of a meltdown because she feels excluded.
Solution: Bore Her With the Details
Start cc’ing her on your correspondence pronto. Take detailed notes of every business interaction you have and email her updates a few times a day. Your salvation lies in a recounting of the minutiae. And don’t desperately seek her approval. She may start to panic that you’re just as nervous as her. Instead, praise yourself for a job well done.
Problem Boss #4:
At the slightest provocation, your boss raises her voice at vendors, suppliers, and other co-workers. You’ve watched them go slack-jawed from the shock. By comparison you seem like a saint. Thus, your boss has elected you to clean up after the destructive path she’s left behind. Every time she loses her temper, she dispatches you to apologize or to explain away her actions.
Solution: Brush Up On Office Diplomacy
Excellent manners on your part will go a long way towards erasing the terrible impression she makes. Charm and a bit of wit may help you overcome the initial awkwardness. After you’ve apologized for your boss’s flagrant outburst, give the official press report that you create for these occasions.
You might try, “Tiffany profoundly apologizes for the remark she made at the last meeting. She wants you to know she simply got carried away in the heat of the moment. She also asked me to convey that, of course, our company will approve the extra surcharges without delay. I’ll take care of that by the end of the week.”
Adapted from Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots: 201 Smart Ways to Handle the Toughest People Issues, by Vicky Oliver; Sourcebooks, Inc.