3 Basic Steps in Dealing with Bad Bosses

You’ll never catch me saying management is easy – doing it well requires a complex mix of skills. But because it’s hard, it’s also easy to do badly.  Which helps explain why we consistently have employee engagement levels around 30%, according to Gallup – meaning some 70% of employees are not emotionally committed to their organizations.

There’s no benefit in becoming a long-term victim.

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Okay, so say your boss is a problem for you, and your relationship with him or her is in serious jeopardy. What can you do about it? What moves can you make to try to improve your lot? Here are three basic steps that can help you make this a logical not emotional situation. No rocket science for sure, but an organized way to help bring order to the chaos of a bad employee-manager relationship. They’re a means of trying to understand…working with if you can…and taking action if you need to.

See things through the eyes of others. In other words, do your best to understand your manager’s workplace issues – the business stresses and pressures she’s feeling and why they’re making her difficult. The more insight you can gain into the nuts and bolts of her business situation, the better. Ultimately, her stresses may or may not make sense to you, but the exercise is worth trying as it may give valuable perspective on her behavior. Having insight into such issues will give you the best chance to:

Make yourself indispensable. If you do have a chance to salvage the relationship, it will likely involve in one way or another, making yourself ultra-valuable. The reality is, key employees are usually not treated poorly. While there’s no guarantee top performance will be a gamechanger, it’s certainly a positive step to take. And may well represent your best chance to shift the dynamics of a difficult relationship.

Know when enough is enough. There’s never benefit in becoming a long-term professional victim. If after doing your absolute best to understand the pressures your boss is feeling and making yourself as valuable as possible to him, and it’s become apparent that this relationship will just never work, know when to say when. Start looking around. It’s far better to take constructive action than to suffer in silence. Vote with your feet if you have to.

Three steps. Understanding. Becoming indispensable. Taking action if you need to.

All just common sense. But as I often like to say about management, just because something is common sense doesn’t mean it’s commonly practiced.

This article first appeared at Forbes.com.

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