Bosses are the most difficult of all difficult people, because they have the power. And I think many bosses haven’t been trained in managing people, they’re just making it up, so they are probably doing it badly.
Maybe they don’t know how to delegate properly, or they haven’t realized that thanks and encouragement are more effective than pressure and criticism. And they can have a huge effect on your life:- with five days a week and control over your income, a bad boss can pretty much ruin a person’s life. In fact I’m pretty sure that having a bad boss is the biggest reason people leave their job and look for another one.
But leaving your job isn’t the first thing you should do, and as I’ve mentioned before, ceasing to care about your work isn’t a good option either– you HAVE to get your boss to be a better one. This won’t be easy but it’s the only option that’s any good.
I’ve covered elsewhere in this blog many of the bad behaviours commonly exhibited by all sorts of difficult people as well as bosses – the aggressive ones, the games players, the ones who are selfish or bad listeners,and the fact that you may well have slightly different objectives from your boss.
But there are a few other problems that can happen with bosses that are specific to them, and I want to quickly look at six of them now:
The first is Poor communication – nearly all bosses are bad at this, because they don’t have enough time to communicate as well as they would like to. I think the solution is to ask for something concrete, something clear and definite, like a five minute catch upevery Monday morning.
Next is Lack of thanks – again, I think many bosses are bad at thanking, maybe they just forget to do it or they think it’s not necessary – after all you’re getting paid, what more do you want? – or maybe they find it a bit embarrassing.
But whatever the reason, I think being thanked is important and if it’s a problem to you then you should definitely take the slightly embarrassing step of asking your boss how you are doing,and, assuming it’s OK, say thanks, it would be good to have regular updates like that, just so you can be sure you’re on track. It’s a reasonable request.
Number three is Claiming the credit – how we hate it when our boss takes the credit for work that we have done! But I don’t think there is much you can do about this one – I mean, you can protest to everyone that it was YOUR idea, or corner the boss afterwards and accuse them of stealing your idea, but that’s not going to get you what you want.
I think all you can do with this one ismake sure you publish or publicise your ideas and your successes out to all of your colleaguesbefore your boss gets a chance to put their name on them.
4thon my list of 6 is General Unfairness – bosses who have favourites, or who always seem to give you the unpleasant jobs or the ones that are more difficult.
In their defence I think it’s very hard to be fair to everyone all the time – not every job is the same and someone has to get the one that’s less good, and a lot of it is a matter of opinion – but if you can prove that you are not getting a fair deal you could consider saying something – always starting with “I know it’s difficult to give out the jobs fairly but…..”.
And by the way, don’t do what my friend’s son did, and take his mum to work with him – he was having a disciplinary meeting with his boss, about poor performance, and he brought his mum to tell the boss that it was unfair and that he was a good boy. …That was never going to work!
Number five is Lack of involvement – when bosses take decisions without consulting you. I think this IS an area where you can get quick improvements, by mentioning that you would have liked to have been involved and next time please could you be.
You might have to nag them a few times but after a while they will get better at remembering to ask you. They probably don’t mean any harm by excluding you, they just tend to forget and make the decision themselves because it’s quicker. So keep remindingthem.
Finally there are bosses who use Security as a weapon, or perhaps I should say INsecurity. They believe, wrongly, that if they can keep you feeling insecure then you’ll work harder. So they won’t promise anything, they won’t confirm that you are safely in the job or what’s going to happen next, “will you get a bonus or not?” – it’s a really bad way to manage people because you then spend all your time worrying about security instead of customers and ideas and improvements.
But what can be done? I think you can call them on it and say you’ll do a better job if you don’t have to waste time and energy worrying about your contract or bonus or whatever – and that’s probably got a 50/50 chance of working.
If it doesn’t then I’d suggest ignoring it if you can, it’s probably just a game they are playing, but if it still worries you then make yourself feel more secure by getting your CV up to date and getting some other irons in the fire – the worst that will happen is that one of them will come up and you’ll move on to a better job and a better boss! And you HAVE given your boss a chance because you did tell them it was an issue for you.
So those are my six biggest boss problems, and I hope that if you do unfortunately have a boss that exhibits any of these that my suggestions will be helpful. And of course, when you become a boss if you’re not already one, then please do try to avoid any of my six!
For a lot more information on this fascinating and important subject, check out my online course – you can buy it for £10 from Udemy or if you are lucky enough to be a subscriber to lynda.com or Linkedin Learning you can view it for free as part of your membership
Onwards and upwards