how to deal with a difficult boss

Everyone comes across a difficult boss ranging anywhere from slightly annoying to a narcissistic air heads. Of course, even slightly annoying ones can be a pain since you have to deal with them daily. For the purpose of this article and to keep our diplomatic demeanor, let’s call all of these ranges ‘difficult’.

But, how do you deal with a difficult bosses?  There is no one way. You may be surprised that sometimes the problem may be you.  Yes, hard to digest but it can be the reason why your boss is ‘difficult’.  After going through below points, you may realize where the problem lies and try to correct it or if you are dealing with a love deprived genetically altered patience sucker then you may have to escalate or leave. Before we get to those extremes, lets read on:

Over deliver: I have observed that in many instances, people who complain about their boss being a pain are slackers. Harsh – I know – but hear me out.  You may be great at the assigned task but totally uninvolved in other initiatives your office takes on. You may be a total social networking champion but suck at your core job. You may come to the office as if you are visiting McDonalds on a Saturday morning. I can go on – but you get the point.

The only way to fix this kind of situation is to ‘over deliver’. Over deliver at your job, extra-curricular activities, office meetings and whatever happens at your workplace, as appropriate. Napoleon Hill in his world famous book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ said ‘work more than what you are paid for’. We are saying work more than you are paid for but at the same time show up more at non-work related activities in your office. Expand your presence both at your core job and at the workplace in general. Overdeliver and then overdeliver some more.

Of course, if this is a job that you want to ‘get out’ of and not ‘progress at’, then you have the choice to leave and not follow the above advice, so that someone more willing to put forth the effort can take your place.

Own your role: Whatever is that you are responsible for at your job, be the star at it. Even the most difficult bosses respect people who know their stuff. You may have already noticed that your boss is rude to you but is nice to the other person at the same designation.  In most instances this is because that other person has earned an ‘irreplaceable’ responsibility within the company. That is what you have to do. Become irreplaceable for the company and the boss will be nice to you (if that is the problem that prompted the behavior).

Open communication: Sometimes, the boss who is being meant you doesn’t know that his behavior is being interpreted as such. How do you deal such a situation? Ask your boss for a ‘counseling’ lunch and express your views in a diplomatic way. Most sensible bosses get what you are saying and will give it a shot to change their style.  If lunch is not an option because you work with virtual bosses then a personal ‘counseling’ call will help. Either way – keeping the communication open is all it takes sometimes.

Origins and Perceptions: Continuing our thought from previous points, sometimes it maybe that you moved from one location to another and you are still trying to figure out what’s nice and what’s not. For example, in the US, it is polite to say ‘madam’ (or Mam) to women. In North, ladies might be offended by that gesture as it is mostly used to refer to ‘older’ women. No women wants to feel older by your gesture. You see that point to which we are driving this – don’t you?  It is possible that your boss or you are facing ‘transition’ lag. Help yourself (if you are the one moving) or help your boss (if he/she moved) to get them to the speed.

Escalate to right people: If it is not you, it is not the lack of open communication and if it is definitely not the origins and perceptions that prompt your boss’s snob like behavior then you have to escalate to the HR or the boss of your boss. You will be surprised that some others may have already voiced their concerns to the HR or the boss of your boss and your complain just proves that your boss is genetically incapable of changing and that may prompt action from the HR/higher ups.

Remember it’s just a job:  If all else fails, try looking out for a new job. Move on. You are not dealing with parents or family that you are stuck with for rest of your life, it’s just a job.  If you don’t like it and you cannot come to the terms (after doing everything you could) – move on. Remember not to bring any of these issues at the interview for a new job.

This advice if properly used will help you deal with difficult bosses.


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