You hate your boss. Now what?

All of us will probably work for at least one extremely difficult person during our careers. Some coping strategies for an unpleasant working environment may help you chart a new direction.

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Everybody experiences pressure at the office (even the virtual office). Technology leaders and their teams may experience it more than most because of the relentless pace of change and the often under appreciated responsibility of "keeping the lights on."

Those pressures and their effects on emotions and rational thinking can thwart any company’s best efforts at employee engagement, a positive cultural environment and, significantly, low turnover. A bad company environment can mean the sudden loss of key employees followed by costly interruptions to critical projects that ultimately hurt the bottom line and do serious damage to careers.

You're not alone

If you take a look at Gallup’s latest “State of the Global Workplace” report, at least half of all employees in the United States have quite their jobs at some point in to order to put serious room between themselves and their bosses. In Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East the numbers are as bad or worse. 

The numbers tell us that difficult bosses can be found anywhere in the world. Each difficult boss will possess his or her own unique characteristics. Is your boss guilty of any (or all) of these? Bullying. Micromanaging. Failing to listen. Taking all the credit (but unable to take criticism). Conflict avoidance. Blame shifting (aka, narrow shoulders). Never listening. Decision paralysis. 

Pivot time

We can always tax the patience of our family and friends with our list of complaints but at some point we need to get up and stat moving forward again. Let's consider some strategies to address our concerns:

  • POV (also known as empathy). Have you tried seeing things from your boss’s point of view? What are some of his or her pressures and challenges? "Managing up" is a key skill within your emotional intelligence portfolio. Understanding the other person’s position may open up possibilities that you hadn’t previously considered. You might even identify a project that you can take off of her hands that will grow your capabilities.
  • Self-development. Does your company offer training programs that could help you develop your coping skills? And if not, it may be time to invest in yourself through outside courses or coaching. In a long career with many different jobs and bosses ahead of you, some of these people will also be difficult and demanding. The best time to start growing your interpersonal skills is right now.
  • Accessing your network ecosystem. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. There are people within your network who know you well and can help you leverage your strengths. Some of them have been in similar circumstances and successfully navigated there way out of them. You can learn from their experiences.
  • Address the issue with human resources. Before you schedule a meeting I suggest you start keeping a diary and record your observations. Over the course of a few weeks or months you may detect patterns and it will help your HR partner understand the story so that s(he)’s in a better position to offer suggestions and solutions.
  • And if all else fails. There are other jobs and other bosses out there. You can always look for a new opportunity. However, it’s always best if you’re dealing from a position of strength. And that means you need to stay disciplined and focused on your current job. Mental or actual unemployment will only add to your pressures.

In closing

The narrative isn’t only up to our boss. We have choices. We can adopt a different mindset and develop strategies. We can reframe the story and take control of our career narrative. The narrative is up to us.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

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