Managing Your Boss’s Problem Behavior

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Friday 15th October 2010
In this article
  • Recognize problems and learn how to solve them.
  • Differentiate between what can and cannot be changed.
  • Solutions and other approaches.

Every 120 days your performance and attitude are scrutinized and graded for your company’s quarterly employee evaluations. You’re meeting deadlines, closing deals and adding to your firm’s overall profitability in the hopes of landing an ace evaluation. You’re making the grade–but what about your boss? What happens when your supervisor’s management style lacks common business sense?

While reprimanding your boss and changing his or her working style is beyond the scope of what most SharpMen can hope for, you can change the way you act and communicate. By understanding what you’re up against, you are more likely to ease your own daily stress and frustration levels.

The Phone Call Dodger

Here’s the scenario: your boss doesn’t return phone calls, which is no big deal until the callers begin blaming you for not passing along the message, and decide to use you as their firing range. The messenger gets blasted. How can you deflect the blows and get your boss to wake up?

First, let your manager know that the client is unhappy and blames you for not passing along the message. This alerts your supervisor to the client’s state of mind and puts the ball in his court. With the exception of placing the phone in his hands and dialing, that’s about all you can do.

Next, when the client calls again, let him know that you’ve passed along the message and that you’re surprised he hasn’t received a callback. It helps if you can nail down a time frame of when your boss might call the client.

If you’re concerned about this coming up at your review, keep a log of the date and a description of the client’s frustration. In all but the smallest of companies, this record can help you save your skin.

The Disgruntled Door Closer

Supervisors are regular people, and just like us they get frustrated, close their doors and send out signals that scream, "Knock at your own risk." While they’re inside fuming, you’re still running a business, and situations arise that require your manager’s input. What do you do?

It’s all in your approach. Plan to knock at your boss’s least heated moment. Alternatively, on a day when the door is open and his or her mood is good, ask your manager to list the circumstances under which it is acceptable for you to knock when the door is closed. Ask for specific client needs and requests. Focus on improving client service and efficiency; do not make it personal. This way, he or she is less likely to become defensive. Follow up the discussion with an e-mail outlining what was discussed. Add a copy of this e-mail to your log.

No luck? Add information about your manager’s unavailability to your log. Include the date, a description of the client or other problem, and the consequences of his or her unavailability. Stick to the facts and avoid commentary.

The Picky Boss

Perfectionist bosses have been obsessed with flawlessness since they were kids. If your boss happens to strive for and expect perfection, this behavior is unlikely to change. The key is to adjust your attitude, not his or hers. Accept that your boss is a control freak and roll with the punches. Realize that however hard you work, projects will be sent back two or three times, and that you’ll be expected to be just as anal as he or she is.

If you can master rule number one, then you’re on your way to happier times. Second, adapt your work behavior to accommodate your manager’s personality. For example, if a report is due in two weeks and you know he’ll send it back for revisions, then beat him to it. Four days prior to its due date, submit a rough draft (which may actually be your finished copy). Inform him or her that you need revisions in two days in order for you to meet your deadline. This way, your boss will have a chance to revise, and you will not have blown your deadline. In the meantime, you can move on to other projects.

Finally, remember to always keep perfectionists in the loop. If something is snagging a project, let them know. Perfectionists love to get too much information, so pile on the details until your boss tells you to pull back.

The Foot-Dragging Boss

Bosses who fail to do their part can be extremely frustrating to the employees who bust their butts to meet deadlines. As a result of the boss’s lax work ethic (or scheduled golf game), employees end up burning the midnight oil on a project that could otherwise have been out the door. The upshot? As long as they can take their time and you’re still able to come through, the behavior won’t change.

Address the issue. Stay professional, but be clear about the fact that your boss’s inability to review documents in a timely manner affects your overall efficiency and the company’s bottom line. After all, how fresh can you be the morning after an all-nighter? Suggest that productivity can be increased by setting early deadlines for the whole team. That way there will be enough creative juice for the next project. Set a date and time when his or her comments will be in. Your boss will appreciate your interest in increasing efficiency, which raises the bar for his or her own performance.

By familiarizing yourself with common behaviors and approaching them in a factual and professional manner, you’ll likely find your office environment less frustrating and more productive.

This article last updated on Friday 15th October 2010
As you like 'Managing Your Boss’s Problem Behavior' you may also like following Sharp Dating articles . . .

Telling Your Boss That He/She Is Wrong

It’s a fact: on the career of every SharpMan a little rain must fall. Sometimes this rain takes the form of a particularly precarious position — your boss is wrong and you’ve

Presenting Your Ideas to Your Boss

You’ve worked hard and are ready to present your suggestions to the boss. Great. How’re you gonna do it? In the ideal world, management has been kept up to date on your

Time Management 101

You're on a tight deadline for a project proposal, but arrive at work to find a pile of messages that require return calls or e-mails. A colleague carrying a mug of coffee

E-Mail Etiquette at Work

Ten years ago, most offices communicated by meetings or interoffice mail. Both allowed working SharpMen to maintain their schedules and consider their responses before

Lame Excuses That Damage Your Career

You know the situation: a project is running late and your boss is looking to you for an explanation. The temptation is strong to deny responsibility. You could easily blame

Managing Change at Work

In this SharpWork installment, Los Angeles-based management consultant Terri Gonzalez writes about how SharpMen can save their hides and climb higher in a changing workplace

Asking for a Raise!

There was a time when the hallways of all brick and mortar companies were filled with the moans of employees who believed that their new media friends were getting far richer

Dealing With Difficult Bosses

In a perfect working environment your boss would be someone who is approachable, attentive, complimentary and positive – someone who’ll give you a pat on the back (or slip