The Office, Horrible Bosses, 9-to-5
... movies and television shows love a bad boss. But when you work for one it can make life a misery and cause problems in your home life as much as during office hours.
There's the boss who likes to put you down, the unappreciative one, the one who takes credit for your work, the disorganised boss, the micro-manager, the too-hands-off boss, the one who plays favourites, or the boss who is just too friendly.
Whatever their style, there's an employee out there who won't like it and another who will find them the perfect fit. So, how can you cope when you don't get on with your boss?
Get to know them better
If you're not getting along with your boss, you could suggest doing some personality-based or relationship-building exercises to understand each other's differences more. Chances are, they would like to get on better, too — no one likes a toxic environment.
One such tactic is DiSC Profiling, a behavioural model developed in he 1920s that categorises people on a scale of dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. You can then compare your style of behaviour with that of a boss or co-worker to see how you're different, similar and how it's best to work together.
For example, if your boss is quite careful and you like to be more daring with ideas, it may suggest putting more research into your ideas before presenting them to your careful boss, rather than continuing to feel frustrated by a lack of enthusiasm for your plans.
Likewise, if you're working with someone who has a need for influence, they might be happiest doing a job that gets the most people in the company watching them, such as doing the social media function.
After this profiling it may surprise you how much easier it is to get along with a difficult boss, simply because you understand their motives so you're not taking things personally. It might sound counterintuitive, but somehow getting to know someone you dislike might just make you like them a little more.
Seek other opinions
A problem shared is a problem halved, and that relates just as well to having a difficult boss. Find a trusted co-worker, especially one who may have worked with this individual before and tell them about your situation. Find out what they think the problem and solution is.
If you don't want to tell someone in the organisation, seek out an executive coach or HR professional, or a friend away from the office, and rather than gossip about your boss, try thinking of the situation as a learning experience and ask for people's advice.
Without the emotional attachment, they may be able to offer you solutions you hadn't considered, or through their own experience, give you phrases to use to elicit good responses from your boss. This approach also makes you feel more in control of the situation, rather than suffering in silence and feeling victimised.
Define clear boundaries
If you have clear boundaries and expectations around your job, it will provide a good framework to get the work done without bumping up against a bad boss too often. If there are no clear boundaries set by your boss, try setting them yourself and asking for their buy-in.
Remember that no one is perfect, and through generations people have made fun of and ridiculed their bosses — it can be a smokescreen for a dislike of the actual job, or frustration that you are not progressing fast enough
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Your boss may resent you trying to manage upwards, but they also might be glad of the ideas to make things work better, because the chances are that if you don't like your boss, they may not like you either — they're just in a more professional capacity so are less likely to show it.
Setting boundaries around your role may mean they have to think about your job less and get on with their own role, which is a good way to approach them with your ideas.
Glass half full
Try re-framing your thoughts about your boss and think of the things that are good about them. For example, they may be unclear about expectations, but they may be very accommodating about your need for flexible working arrangements.
Remember that no one is perfect, and through generations people have made fun of and ridiculed their bosses — it can be a smokescreen for a dislike of the actual job, or frustration that you are not progressing fast enough. So make sure you're not just focusing on the negative.
Sometimes though, you might not be able to see the good they do, so you could talk to their boss or fellow-manager and find out how they find them and what they think their assets are to give you something to consider other than their negative qualities.
Often, employees don't have visibility about what their boss is doing day-to-day and how they contribute to the organisation, they only see their job as how they relate to them as a manager/boss, which may not be their strength.
You could also try talking to a co-worker who does get on with the boss and see whether they have any ways to cope. They might simply ignore the negatives, rather than challenging the boss on the things they do wrong. Getting a new perspective can change your perceptions.
Find the funny side
As popular TV sitcoms have shown time and again, a bad boss can be hilarious.
Try to see the funny side, or better still, try to find your boss' sense of humour — ask what TV shows they find funny or what makes them laugh and try to build a connection that lets off a bit of tension through humour every now and then.
If all else fails, look for another job or move to a different department. Life's too short to be humming the Boomtown Rats' I don't like Mondays on the way to work each week.