Managing a Difficult Boss

Having a difficult boss can be challenging, and take away the enjoyment of working in a role and for a company that might otherwise be rewarding. Moving to another department or another company may not be an option for you at this time. So how do you successfully manage a difficult boss? It is not easy, but is feasible, especially if there are times when she behaves in a reasonable manner. A good strategy is to start managing-up without your boss realizing what you are doing.


Find out why your boss behaves the way she does. Is she difficult with everyone or only with you? What is she trying to accomplish in the organization? What is she passionate about? What are the things that she cares deeply about? Is she experiencing a lot of stress in trying to meet departmental goals? Or is she experiencing stress in her personal life? Although people are expected to leave personal issues at the door when they arrive at work, that expectation is unrealistic because they have one life where different aspects are integrated and flow into each other. If you can get insights into who she is as a person, instead of thinking of her as someone who is making your life difficult, you may be able to support her in ways that are meaningful to her.


Find ways to support her. Everyone has weaknesses. The temptation is very strong to show up a difficult person’s weaknesses, making her look bad in the process. Instead of doing that, find ways to support her to succeed. This shows her that you are someone who takes the high road.


Practice self-leadership and hold yourself to the highest standards. Develop the habit of being reliable, performing your work to the highest standards, delivering your projects on time and under budget, and always working at a steady pace. Help your colleagues to succeed so that your boss can see that you are a valuable team member. And when your boss is still being difficult even when your performance excels, keep a positive work attitude. Talk through the situation with your partner or a mentor who does not work for the same company. Committing to and practicing self-leadership can help you to keep your sanity when performing under less than ideal circumstances.


Related Post: The Importance of a Positive Work Attitude


Check your own behaviors. Being around a negative and difficult person for eight hours a day, five days a week, often will bring out similar behaviors in yourself. You cannot control the way another person behaves, but you can control your reaction to that person. By not mirroring your boss’ behavior may enable her to see that it is possible for her to behave in more productive ways.


Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Keep your boss in the loop all the time on work-related matters. If you discover information that can positively impact the way she performs her role, making her look brilliant in the eyes of her superiors, pass it along. Additionally, find out from her, her preferred method of communication, then use that method when you have to reach out to her.


By following these strategies, you stand a greater chance of managing a difficult boss, and even if you are not successful, you can rest assured that you have successfully managed yourself, and others will take notice.