Working and surviving in an environment where the boss is insecure and impatient, valuing work over employees and blasting us with criticism is very challenging. However, managing up is the only art that we can pursue before we give up on it.
Here are the three keys to dealing with a difficult boss:
The behavior of your boss would majorly depend upon the terms that he/she shares with you. It plays a huge role in determining the success of your conversations with him, conveying your concerns and also getting them resolved. Hence, the initial investment in the company has to be made in building a healthy relationship with the boss. In order to build this base, we must look into the following things:
Understanding insecurities/concerns: Your boss may seem tough but, deep inside, he/she would have a reason for it. Every boss is concerned about the future of the company. Being forthcoming and listening to what he has envisioned would make you two feel connected by a common goal and bring you both on the same page.
Acknowledging insecurities/concerns: The moment you acknowledge the concerns and insecurities of your boss, you are halfway through. Before putting your point forward, try to make him/her feel heard and understood. It would help them gain insight into your concerns better.
Maintaining congruence of values: Gage the values of your boss, after identifying them never defy them. Nothing shakes the trust as a simple lie could.
Convey and Convince: It is very important to choose your words while you interact with your boss. Avoid getting too emotional or attacking. Rather make use of your good terms to convey your point.
Being proactive would mean updating, following up and taking initiative with your work. It When dealing with a tough boss, being proactive helps your boss realize that you have all the tasks assigned to you on track and he doesn’t need to keep a check on you all the time:
Understand the working style of your boss. See how he likes to communicate, eg. does he like to communicate through emails or he is a WhatsApp person. Does he like to be directive or he is someone who would give you food for thought. The more you try to match your working style with that of your boss, the better results it would fetch.
Always try to be one step ahead. Anticipate what your boss might ask for and get it done/prepared.
Taking initiatives is another side of being proactive. Depending upon the expectations of the boss, see what new could be done.
Set up a realistic deadline and communicate it to your boss so that he understands your capacity and working style.
For each of your assigned task, follow up with your boss on the progress of the work being done. Notify him before he asks you.
Change the way you look at it:
We all come with a unique mindset and are generally not open to changes and criticism. Our style of working and ideas may or may not suit our boss and we could be asked to make changes in the work done. Criticism could make us feel attacked and devalued and we may start seeing our boss in a negative light. But, do you think you could have become this competent without being told to improve on certain areas? Don’t you think that criticism has the potential to get the best out of you?
Changing the way you look at it can entirely change how it feels.
Use criticism to polish your work and prove yourself once again.
Know that adapting to the environment is just another area that tests your skills. However, you must give yourself the luxury of some time to adjust.
Focus on what could be done rather than what has happened and can’t be changed.