How To Deal With A Bad Boss
It is a sad fact of life that in the workplace we will all inevitably come across a line manager who is, to put it bluntly, poor. Poor at many things possibly, poor and just a few things possibly, totally poor – very likely.
What does that feel like? It will involve bullying, obsessive behaviour, micromanagement, gate-keeping resources and information, holding back financial rewards, denying training opportunities, avoiding conflict, shifting the blame when things go wrong, stealing the credit for success from those who have actually made that success happen and just generally making you feel insecure and unhappy. It is also very likely that the staff turnover in the area that they are responsible for will dramatically increase, even in times of economic uncertainty and poor job opportunities.
People vote with their feet and it is very true to say that staff leave managers not their organisation.
There are clear links between how we are managed and our resulting levels of motivation, application and dedication to our work.
There are a number of strategies that you can adopt to deal with this which are outlined below:
- Try to show some sympathy for the line manager.
This may be very difficult at first but it MUST be the starting point for any strategy to deal with the problems that you are facing. What external and internal pressures are they facing to organise and deliver in what could well be very challenging circumstances? This may well explain why they are exhibiting such behaviour and why they have an approach that is making you feel uncomfortable. If you try to practice some Emotional Intelligence techniques when dealing with them you can begin to manage upwards and try to influence how they are behaving and alter their approach. This will not be easy but it is a proven means by which to see the pressures they are facing and to try to assist them in delivering and managing their workloads.
- How does my position fit into this?
Take a long look at yourself and really, objectively assess what your weaknesses are and how this contributes to the situation. It is very rare indeed for a problem to be SOLELY the responsibility of one party to a disagreement. This can be a difficult process, particularly if you consider that you have been loyal, hard-working and just getting on with tasks to the best of your ability but it HAS to be a factor in the poor working dynamics of the situation.
Where can I improve and what feedback have I received around the working relationship? What parts of my behaviour have helped to create what appears to be a toxic, or near-toxic, working relationship?
What are your colleagues telling you about their working situation? Actively seek out and chat to those members of the team who do not have any problem with the line manager that you are struggling with: get advice from peers as to how best to manage the situation.
Finally, if this does not help, try talking directly to your line manager about the situation. This needs to be prepared carefully and succinctly so that neither of you is offended by the conversation but real ground is covered in the process. Remember to set the questions in a positive manner with the approach that you are seeking some advice and guidance. If this gets you nowhere, despite your best efforts, it is likely that the problem sits not with you!
- Making Change happen
This is the conversation that you probably do not want to have but which now needs to take place. Remember what you are trying to achieve is a resolution to the problem, not further angst and difficulty.
If a moment like this does not present itself, you have to initiate the conversation yourself. This should be done in private and away from listening ears! Make sure this is in a neutral location and aim for dialogue and open discussion: prepare your questions beforehand and make sure that they are open questions (i.e. questions that cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No!).
- Take Collective Action
Where you best and honest attempts at dialogue to get around the problem have failed and your colleagues are of the same opinion than an approach to HR is needed. This comes with a huge degree of caution however as you MUST have a cast iron business case for why you feel the way you do and the imp[act this is having on you, the team and the wider organisation. the thrust here must be on lost productivity and weakened performance for the organisation continuing if nothing changes. Be absolutely clear that making a formal complaint is very much a last resort position and HR will initially at least side with the line manager.
- Keep your head down and plan to leave as soon as possible
If none of the above work plan to leave, dust off the CV, make applications and resolve to get away from the situation as quickly as is humanly possible. We might hope that the line manager will move on but why wait for something that may, or may not, ever happen. Your destiny here lies in your own hands!
Always remember it is never your fault that you have a poor line manager but staying with one is your fault!
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