Handling the boss from hell

Not every boss is a good boss but before you quit, try putting your boss through managerial rehab.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

People who have never had a boss from hell should consider themselves lucky. For the rest of us, recalling those experiences is a lot like telling old war stories — fewer physical scars, perhaps, but plenty of emotional trauma.

Thankfully, as more companies realize the value of emotional intelligence — the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others — on their workforce, a lot of managers who use fear and intimidation as motivating tactics are being forced to change or get phased out.

There are still some stalwart managers, however, who are a little more obtuse. People often talk about quitting their boss, not their job, and that’s because as much as we may love what we do, it’s often not worth the trouble of putting up with a malicious manager day in and day out. Here are some common types of bad bosses and how to productively deal with them:

The micromanager — This boss wants to know everything you’re doing, all the time. Worse, this boss may keep you from doing your job because he or she is constantly stepping in with “helpful” advice. There’s a simple fix: out-micromanage the micromanager. Every morning present this boss with a detailed list of everything you’ll be working on. Ask for approval before you do even the simplest tasks. Copy your boss on your emails. You get the point. Show this boss your competence until he can’t take it anymore, and he’ll eventually leave you alone.

The inept boss — Everyone secretly wonders how this boss ever found himself in management. He doesn’t appear to know how to do his own job, let alone anyone else’s, and he doesn’t know how to effectively manage people. Chances are you find yourself doing this boss’ job for him, along with your own work, and you don’t make half what he does. There’s a two-pronged attack that you’ll want to employ here. First, be the big, bright shining star you are and put your name on everything. Fill the leadership void in your department and take the reins on projects big and small, but remember to be gracious to your boss. Lead meetings, plan strategies, and make sure your boss’ boss knows just how much you’re doing to move the company forward. You’ll be rewarded sooner than you might think. The second thing? Figure out what your boss actually does do well that got him this job in the first place and see if it’s worth emulating. Even if it’s just being a great schmoozer, that’s probably a trick worth learning.

The mean boss — No matter what anyone does, it’s never good enough for this boss. He doesn’t talk, he yells. He may even say things that are completely inappropriate for any environment, let alone a functional workplace. In short, he’s a jerk. Like any bully, the best away to deal with this boss is head on. Passive compliance or kissing up won’t work, so have a firm — but not confrontational — conversation with this boss. Maybe he just wants to feel like he’s working with a peer not a lackey and that will be enough. If it’s not, it might be time for a trip to the HR director’s office. Make sure you’ve kept a record of the abuse you’ve suffered at the hands of this boss though, as well as the direct attempt(s) you’ve already made to try to fix the situation. This boss won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus, so come prepared.

If all else fails and you can’t fix your bad boss situation for the better, then polish up that résumé and start looking for a new job. The job search is rarely fun but hating the person you report to definitely isn’t, either.

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