Ask Brad: What Do I Do When I Can't Stand My Boss?

To 'Manage' Your Boss Effectively, You Need to Change Perspective

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Q: What do I do when I can't stand my boss?

A: Now here's a question I'm sure a few of you have dealt with. In fact, 55% of workers claim that given the chance, they would fire their bosses. The crazy thing is that 84% of bosses think they are doing a great job. It looks like there may be a bit of a disconnect.

Your relationship with your boss is incredibly important. You probably spend more time with your boss than you do with your boyfriend, wife, parents or children. I know. It's sad. Having a good working relationship is critical to both your happiness and your success.

Brad Karsh
Brad Karsh is president of JobBound, a career consulting company, and author of 'Confessions of a Recruiting Director.'
Different communication styles
It's tempting to think you may work for the devil himself, but the fact of the matter is that most workplace issues arise from differences in communication or work styles. (Very few bosses are pure evil!)

The problem is, we often think about being managed and how we'd like to work purely from our perspective. We don't consider how our boss works or would like to have us operate.

For instance, let's say you feel as though your boss is a micro-manager. She wants to see all of your work before you send it out, she e-mails you every three minutes, and she appears to be looking over your shoulder on everything you do.

Your reaction probably is, "Why does she do that? I'd never act that way as a manager." Well, guess what? It's not about you -- it's about her.

If you want to effectively "manage" your bosses, you need to think about it from their perspective. Just because you wouldn't do it one way, doesn't mean other people wouldn't do it that way.

If your boss is a micro-manager, it typically means two things: One, she likes to be in control and know what's going on. And two, she might not trust you.

Trust is a hard thing to do
Before you get bent out shape on the trust thing, recognize that it is tough to do as a manager. I deliver workshops for managers, and one of the toughest things managers deal with -- especially new ones -- is to trust their employees. Ultimately as a manager you have to release control and trust your team to perform. But if the team doesn't succeed, then the manager is on the line. It's hard to do.

So in the situation of the micro-manager boss, you need to think about it from her perspective. You need to consider what a micro-manager would like. Copy her on way more e-mails that you would normally. At the beginning of each day, go over your to-do list and priorities, and give her frequent updates on your work progress.

The goal is that she begins to see that indeed you are on top of your game and you can handle assignments and be trusted. Soon you'll see she backs off and lets you do more of your own thing.

Ultimately the goal is to adjust your style to that of your manager. By learning what works for them, you can create a working relationship that is much more productive.

Many employees in my workshops will say things like, "That sounds great Brad, but how in the world would I know how my boss likes to work?" Here's a crazy thought: Ask him or her.

Feedback works both ways
A good working relationship is based on constant feedback, both good and bad. If your boss isn't giving you feedback or telling you how they prefer to work, it's up to you to find out. If you are unsure about whether to copy your boss on all e-mails, simply ask, "Hey boss, do you want me to copy you on all the e-mails I send to the Hellmann's team or just the ones to Darren Kapelus?"

This should be a normal part of your everyday routine. Don't let problems fester and grow. If you have an issue with your boss, talk about it with him immediately. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. More important, don't be tempted to go around your boss and complain to his manager. The first place to go is to your boss. If it's still not resolved, then take it up another level to his manager or to HR.

The more you communicate with your boss and the more you talk about work styles, the better off you will be. You may even find that you have some sympathy for the "devil."
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