I recently read this super empathetic article over at Forbes, which tries to explain the rational behind overly-demanding, nutso bosses. These boss types essentially make their employees miserable in an otherwise decent job setting (I’m sure most of us have been there).
While some of these bosses can be perfectly kind in general, their demanding tone and lack of compassion can disintegrate the fabric of any working relationship. I had a boss who was lovely through and through, but when it came down to her own job being on the line, as Forbes mentions, she used her employees without thanks, constantly piling on the responsibilities with no reward. It was like she had no real awareness of our schedules. The 9-5 swiftly became a 9-7. It was brutal. So what’s an employee to do?
Figure out what makes your boss tick. What are the warning signs that tell you your boss is just not in the mood? Yes, it’s like living with an abusive parent or something, but it’s worth it to keep to yourself when these moods arise. When your boss is feeling chipper, strike while the iron’s hot. Use these times to build communication techniques: ask questions, pose ideas and discuss your experiences.
Keep your boss in the loop. If your boss hasn’t asked already, set up a weekly meeting to briefly discuss your assignments and checklists. Because these boss types are often ridiculously anal retentive and hyper controlling (I think my adjectives are telling a personal story here), they will appreciate your initiative in offering this up. Plus, when you list your responsibilities, your boss will become aware of just how much you have on your plate. If that doesn’t work, try setting deadlines that work between the two of you. Focus on priorities, and figure out what duties are most important to your boss. Just hope she doesn’t prioritize everything on your list, and if she does, kindly bring this to her attention.
Look on the bright side. At first I scoffed when reading Forbes’ suggestion to stay positive. But the more I think about it, the more I realize sitting in my own cesspool of dark hopelessness and resentment isn’t benefiting anyone. I need a paycheck, and my boss needs work done well, so somewhere in the middle of all that horror employees have to finagle a way to keep their chins up. First, acknowledge that this is your job. Accept it. You can look for other work, but while you’re in this position, hold the work ethic that whatever you’re doing you’re going to do it well. That will boost your spirits. Secondly, positivism is contagious in many ways. Your coworkers and even your boss may pick up on this.
Don’t gossip. I’m sure this is the most important tip here. When your boss sucks, you tend to talk about it. You’re pissed, resentful and stressed, so coffee-room chats quickly can elevate and become dangerous. You never know who is listening, and even if the person you’re talking to is on your side, they might not be loyal. It happens to the best of us, so keep yourself safe and stay quiet. The employees who keep a tight lip are viewed as responsible, professional and kind. Be the ear, but don’t be the mouth.
Be honest. If, after everything, you’ve gotten nowhere, you have to face the music, right? Or else. I’ve tried it with the Ursula of all bosses and he was amenable. Rather than taking your quips straight to HR, your boss will appreciate that you decided to be personal and up-front wit