How to Successfully Manage a Difficult or "Bully" Boss
If you've ever worked for someone who made your life a misery; who didn't understand
you; who seemed to give no recognition of the work you put in, or who undermined you or
bullied or intimidated you, I should imagine you'd probably find, not just you, but a
whole team working at sub-optimal level.
As a coach, I know this means you'll do just what you need to to keep out of trouble -
and no more. And your eye is on the exit.
So how do you manage the "nightmare" boss? Here are four key tips to help you navigate
this tricky situation.
1. If your boss is behaving badly, stay calm, step back and consider the following questions:
Has this behaviour happened before? The first two times are probably chance, but
according to Brad McRae, author of "Negotiation and Influencing Skills by the third it's
probably a pattern.
Is your boss under a lot of pressure? Stress may be causing this adverse behaviour.
Is this behaviour just with you, or with others too? (If it's just with you, perhaps
you need to consider honing your rapport building techniques.)
Have you been under a lot of pressure? Stress on you may be causing you to see the
world in a way you wouldn't normally, under more relaxed circumstances.
Have you had an adult to adult conversation with this person? Sometimes people don't
realise their behaviour is a problem for you, and talking to them can clear up what turns
out to be a simple misunderstanding. Don't avoid doing this. Whilst it may make you feel
uncomfortable, long term avoidance leads to situations not only continuing, but often
Worst case scenario? Try mediation. Try speaking to Human Resources or another, more
senior member member of staff.
2. Dealing with an angry boss
If your boss gets angry regularly - don't even try to join in. Let him/her get angry;
have the tantrum. You maintain the adult, higher ground.
The trick is to make yourself scarce until it blows over. Say: "I'm sorry you're so
cross about this, but the only way to solve this is rationally. I'm going to leave now,
and I can come back later when we've both had time to think this through."
Then leave. No matter what they say, tell them you want to leave it for now, until
there's been time to reflect. Stay cool, and deal with the issue on your terms.
And when you do eventually speak, stay clear of accusations, or blame, and focus on
using the word "we". "We" shares the responsibility (even if not for the incident, for how
you are going to resolve it) and doesn't look like you are apportioning blame or being
condemnatory. "We", does nothing to inflame the situation.