In a room full of bosses, look for a person displaying following traits and you will successfully identify a difficult boss.

  • A person who is quick to take credit for minor and major accomplishments but is always found missing from the roster whenever anything goes wrong.
  • A person who thinks he is the authority on every subject; his word is final authority and there is little room for discussion.
  • A person who rarely compliments his subordinates when they do something right but one who frequently chastises them when they make any mistake.
  • A person who is generous in doling out work to his team but one who is a miser when the time comes to reward them for their hard work.

Yes, this kind of a person is any employee’s nightmare. It is often said that People do not quit a job, they quit a BOSS. Many people at different times have faced difficult bosses. They range from being a little pushy or rude to being abusive. While working with such bosses, employees are in constant psychological fear of being controlled professionally as well as personally. This results in lower self-esteem and bad performance at work.

The questions which drag the employee’s mind to nightmares are:

  • How to deal with a toxic boss?
  • Shall one ignore him?
  • Shall one quit?
  • Shall one talk to the HR?

Hence, there being no guides, set rules or handbooks on “How to tame a difficult boss”, read on to see how you can free your mind of such nightmares .

First and foremost, accept this fact that at one time during your career, you will come across such a boss and it is in your best interest to deal with such a person. A difficult boss is no different from other difficult people that you deal with in your everyday life: a difficult spouse (isn’t that redundant), a difficult house-help, a difficult sales person, and the list goes on. Hence, a difficult boss is no different, therefore, instead of running away – which you might do in the end – first exhaust all your options.

Professional Face:

You do not have to make your boss your friend or even like your boss as a person, but you do have to remain professional and get the job done and carry out his instructions dutifully until you are an employee of the organization.

Talk about your concerns:

Having discussion with your boss over concerning behaviors is a pretty alien concept in our country as it scares many employees that they will be putting their job at risk. This fear is usually justified if the boss is a control-freak and feels that his employee is threatening his control.

However, it is usually in employee’s best interest to have a professional discussion with the boss to explain to him the day-to-day problems being caused by his/her behavior. It is not right to keep your concerns bottled up inside you. It will affect your work performance and mental health.

But you can be the best judge if your boss can handle hearing your concerns in a hostile free environment. If you think it is at all not possible for you to talk to your immediate boss without having an argument, then another alternative is to go over his head and talk to his boss.

This is usually a very tricky move and must be handled with absolute care. Remember, management will usually back each other up. However, if you can present your case in a professional manner with facts to back what you are saying, and if you can make the case that your boss’s behavior will end up hurting the company, then the person is likely to pay attention to what you are saying. But you can be the best judge whether such an approach can be taken.

Analyze your actions first:

Before you go attacking your boss, ask yourself if you are doing everything right. Are you coming to work on time, are you finishing your assignments in the allotted time, are you growing as an employee? Get opinions from your coworkers about your performance. If “Yes” is what you get for an answer, try refocusing on the project at hand and see if there are any changes in the boss’s behavior.

Patience is a virtue:

You as an employee, have to learn to be extremely patient. Unfortunately if a situation occurs, where you come directly in the line of fire, never react emotionally or lose control. Losing your cool will always get you into more trouble than you started out with, as it will become a war between egos, and chances are good that your boss has a bigger ego than you do.

Put yourself in their shoes:

Instead of focusing on what you can do to change your boss, remember that your boss is also answerable to an authority above him. He might as well, at this very moment, be devising plans of how to deal with his own difficult boss and facing similar work-related issues. Focus on meeting all your deliverables. Make sure that other people also know the good work that you are doing by sending out status emails to a wider network. This way, you will not have time for ill-feelings and, additionally, you will give little ammunition to your boss to rake you over coals unnecessarily.

Sexual Harassment – Getting HR involved:

In some cases, you may need to get an HR person involved. These cases typically are of the sexual harassment nature. Whereas in the Western countries there are laws to protect employees against such behavior, our country is only now grappling with this all-too-real a workplace situation. In other words, employees are left to fend for themselves.

First, do not get overly friendly with your boss; always keep your business interactions professional. If your boss makes any advancement, firmly yet politely say no. Try not to meet the person alone. Regardless of the attitude you get from your boss, you must, at all times, remain professional and focused at your work.

If you have to get HR involved, keep written record of any untoward activity. Presenting your case accurately will help you getting a resolution. However, realize this important fact that the outcome of such a conversation may not be what you expect. Unfortunately, in some organizations such behavior by the higher-ups is not challenged. In this case, you have to decide whether you are at the end of your rope and whether any further conversation or a resignation letter is your best bet.

When everything fails Plan B works:

If nothing works and your boss remains obnoxious then you should work on a Plan B: looking for a job elsewhere and favorably, obtaining an actual job offer from another employer. Having a Plan B empowers you with the ability to walk-away at any time should the discussion gets out of hand.

General Precautions:

  • Never discuss your boss with your co-workers. Your words often get back to your boss making situation even worse for you.
  • Never let the word out about a new job offer or your interest in switching the job. Do it as discreetly as possible. This will avoid any unpleasant confrontations and hazards.

Good Luck!!!!

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