How To Deal With A Horrible Boss

March 13, 2013

The micromanager? The bully? Or maybe you’re stuck with a drama queen? Psychologist Dr Mary Casey shows us how to deal with the boss from hell and make your 9-5 more enjoyable!

The Micromanager

Does your boss want a meeting with you several times a week, be cc’d in every email, and check your work on an hourly basis?

While this behaviour can be annoying initially, eventually it can make you doubt your own abilities. Develop a strategy to find a good balance between the micromanaging and your freedom. Suggest a dedicated meeting time and create a list of successful projects you’ve worked on to prove your work quality. Be honest: let your boss know you feel they’re monitoring your work too closely and you work better with more space.

The Bully

Does your boss use his or her physical presence to intimidate, shout at you around other staff, or is not open to hearing or taking on your suggestions or ideas?

Even though it seems like it’s their way or the highway, stand up to them and you may find they back down. Ask them not to yell or interrupt. When a situation gets heated, use their first name and ask them if they can outline exactly what the problem is.

The Non-communicator

They come and go without telling you, don’t give staff an opportunity to contact them when they need them, and never give performance feedback.

These employers are basically an emotional brick wall. Observe if they use the same behaviour with all staff. If so, it is not something to take personally. Communicate through notes or emails, and set deadlines for responses. As these bosses are emotionally withdrawn, it may be hard to communicate with them, so ask open-ended questions.

The Drama Queen

This type of boss seeks drama in the workplace, or tends to worry or panic over every incident – and quite openly in the presence of staff.

It’s important not to give them the attention they crave. Remain calm and, if possible, ignore their over-the-top behaviour so as not to add fuel to the fire.

The Gossip Monger

What do you do when your boss is the source of office gossip and conversations eventually lead to discussing people?

Work on constantly changing the subject from people to positive things. Let your boss know in the first few minutes of gossiping that you’re not interested. You can do this by refraining from commenting.

The Slave Driver

A master delegator, this type of boss ensures staff work well into the night, with no mention of “time in lieu”. When another employee leaves, you may also suddenly find yourself doing their job, too.

Set the boundaries of what your hours are; work within these hours and within your scope. A good idea is to check with your boss that your job description is the same and that you are doing everything you were hired to do and nothing more.

The Detractor

Does your manager shift the blame to you or other staff whenever results fail to come in or something goes wrong? Do they take credit for good results you have achieved on your own?

This type of boss is not just insecure but a master manipulator. The best way to deal with this situation is to put in writing your concerns. It’s important that you outline the issue and the outcome. You may write something like “I’d like to say exactly what occurred so that you know why I’m upset”. Due to their insecurities, they will more often than not agree with you. They will also be careful of blaming you or taking due credit away from you.

In some instances, be prepared to leave if necessary. An employer’s habits won’t change overnight but if after many attempts to improve fail, it may be best to move on. Weigh up whether the effects on your health, your emotional state and your personal life are worth staying in the job for.

Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology) is the author of How to Deal with Master Manipulators ($69.95, Casey Centre), a DVD and workbook with effective strategies to deal with manipulation at home or work.

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