Managing Yourself : Do you hate your Boss ?

Managing Yourself : Do you hate you Boss ?

What are the “bad” bosses doing? Frequently cited grievances include micromanaging, bullying, avoiding conflict, ducking decisions, stealing credit, shifting blame, hoarding information, failing to listen, setting a poor example, slacking, and developing staff. Such dysfunctional behaviour would make anyone unhappy and unproductive. However, whatever sins your boss commits, managing your relationship with him or her is a critical part of your job.

The first step is to consider the external pressures your manager is under. Remeber, most bad bosses are not inherently bad people ; they are good people with weaknesses that can be exacerbated by the pressure to lead and deliver results.

Research has shown time and again that practicing empathy can be a game changer in difficult boss-subordinate relationships, and not just as a top-down phenomenon.

It may seem difficult to feel for a manager who isn’t giving you what you need or whom you actively dislike. But as expert  Daniel Golemon showed years ago, empathy can be learned.

Although it may be a conscious exercise , a display of empathy is still best delivered in an informal setting.

The second step is to look at yourself. People who struggle to work well with their bosses are nearly always part of the problem themselves: Their behaviour is in some way preventing them from being recognized and valued.

Observe and seek advice from colleagues who work successfully with your boss. Try and understand his or her preferences, quirks, and hot buttons, and get some pointers on how you do things differently. When you approach colleagues, though, make sure to frame any questions carefully. For instance, instead of asking a co-worker why the boss always interrupts you when you speak, ask the person “ How do you know whether to speak up or not ? How can you tell when the boss does or doesn’t want input ? How do you express disagreement ? “.

If you conclude you’re not the one derailing the relationship with your boss, only then should you openly suggest that the two of you don’t seem to interact well and that you’d like to remedy the situation.

When you begin a dialogue, you may even discover that your boss is not consciously aware of the degree of your discontent.

In taking this route, however, you need to make a substantial business case for why your boss is a liability – someone whose poor management will ultimately cause the teams’s, unit’s, or organization’s performance to suffer.

In these situations, most employees simply go through the motions at work and minimise contact with the boss. There is always the possibility , or hope, that he or she will move on. But remember that in playing for time, you also need to set a time limit, so that hanging in doesn’t become a way of life.

The better solution is to look for another job while you’re still employed, exiting on your own terms. Beef up your resume, contact headhunters , line up references, and start interviewing. Having a bad boss isn’t your fault, but staying with one is.

It doesn’t take long to find an interesting position in another organisation working under a boss with whom we have a great rapport.

Courtesy : HBR Oct 2016

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