I Hate My BossMost of us have had to deal with a troublesome boss at one point in our career. They scream and yell at us for no reason. They play political games, taking credit for our work. We feel as if every day is torture. Workers rarely have the luxury to just quit - there are bills to be paid! How do you deal with a boss who is sabotaging your career path?
Bob Weinstein's book tackles the issue in two parts. First, he goes over the types of bosses that exist, helping to categorize each one. Second, he lays out the coping techniques and options.
It is very informative for any employee to go through the first section - problem boss or not - and really think about some of the issues brought up. Bob includes a quiz or two to help you in your thinking. It's likely your boss was not trained well in HOW to be a boss - and had poor role models which they are now emulating. Bosses are not gods, they simply may not be well suited for this job. It is not necessarily that they are "evil" - it is more likely they are scared, paranoid about screwing up, getting yelled at by their superiors, not trained at all on how to delegate. And of course there are the more serious issues, like cocaine addictions, manic-depressive personalities, and crisis-mongers.
There are no perfect bosses, anywhere. If your boss is human, they will have flaws.
The key, as Bob explains, is to *upward-manage*. That is, manage your boss to achieve the job growth you want. While it's hard at first, you need to depersonalize what is going on. Your boss probably does not obsess about you and think up ways to torment you. Rather, you are someone the boss "trips over", in a way, while they are having a bad time and they lash out at you. Focus on this job being a stepping stone to your future career growth, it's a short term thing, and you are using this experience to build solid skills, to get your resume in order, to move on to what you really want.
What are your solutions, then, during this time of testing?
A key is to do SOMETHING. If you sit around complaining, goofing off, self-hating or wallowing in alcohol, you are only damaging your own reputation and future. You need to be proactive and carve out your own resume and future.
So first, accept that your boss is human. They have flaws, they do have strengths. Keep a journal and record what is going on. This will be an incredibly valuable learning path for future jobs. What traits can you work with? If your boss loves details, can you write up quick daily reports to soothe them? What traits can you learn to avoid? If your boss is always cranky before 10am, can you organize your schedule to be out of the way? Modify your behavior to fit into their quirks. Again, this is upward-managing. Get the relationship to work more smoothly by working within their human frailties. It's your career you are carving, and your responsibility to watch out for you.
Figure out THEIR goals and styles - and work in with them. The more you help them achieve their dreams, the more smoothly things will go, and the more your own growth will work in there as well.
Bob cautions against more direct, confrontational approaches. One on one meetings can be very dangerous and lead to disaster, especially with a boss who you currently have a contentious relationship with. Transfers can sometimes work, and going "over their head" should be a last ditch only effort. If you really must take this approach, make it as individual and "I want help" as you can. Do not quote "We want ..." and do not issue ultimatums. Make it solely about you, your desire to be a great worker, and your need for help in overcoming neutral hurdles. You want your boss's boss to help you find a solution, not to feel backed into speaking up to defend your boss.
Finally, never burn bridges. This job will be on your resume and in a few years it will be a stepping-stone of the past - if you let it. If you turn this into a full blown war, it can turn into an area-wide bad reputation for you as your boss goes around badmouthing you to everyone they know. It is always better to take a deep breath and part ways quietly, for your own good.
I did find a lot of good material in the book, especially where Bob recommends patience, research, journaling your days and attempting to find coping techniques. The book has a dose of humor in it and some of the sections tend to get a bit extreme. The bosses often seem to be complete psychopaths or just released from prison, which can make it hard to relate to a "normal but hard to deal with boss". I would have appreciated much more down to earth examples of troublesome bosses, as well as more concrete examples of how to deal with situations. Not all of us have cocaine-snorting wife-beating eternally abusive bosses. We simply have someone who is grumpy often, snide often, and we need some help.
Also, and this is an odd point which I rarely have brought up with a book, but the font they chose is hard to read easily. I would much rather have had a different font to be able to more easily read.
Still, there was a lot of valuable information in here, and I would recommend this book to anyone having issues with their boss. The key is to really take the quizzes offered and give thought to the issues brought up. The more you really think about the relationship, and apply yourself to work on a solution, the more likely success will result.
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