By Nisa Chitakasem, co-founder of Career Consultancy Position Ignition
One of the most common workplace complaints is: ‘My boss is driving me mad!’. It’s easy to understand why this is such a major issue for so many people. Where do working people spend most of their waking time? At work. Who is the central figure at work? The boss. Whatever you do, you can’t escape him or her.
At times it may seem that there is no way to alleviate the situation and the only option is to leave your organisation altogether. Although there are cases where it would be right for you to find a new job, perhaps because your boss isn’t the only problem, there are ways to deal with a difficult boss whilst staying in your role, or at least staying with the same organisation.
Here are a few tips for handling this challenge:
Keep things in perspective
While your boss is the most important person in your work life, there’s much more to your job than that relationship. Examine your current work life as a whole. How long have you been doing your job, is it still sufficiently challenging? How’s your work/life balance? How long has your boss been like this? Is he really a difficult boss or is this a temporary product of the pressure he’s under?
This examination will give you perspective on your situation. For instance, if you love everything except your boss’s current behaviour, which has only recently begun, you are in a different situation from someone who dislikes the direction her role and organisation is going in, finds the work environment increasingly toxic and is being driven mad by her boss.
Talk to your boss
It’s not a common belief, but most people in a job are actually in a powerful position at present. Baby boomers are of retirement age and there aren’t enough people with experience to replace them all. It’s in the interests of your boss and organisation to retain you. It’s usually worth considering how you might improve your relationship with your boss. She needs you as much as you need the job so she might be more open to compromise than you’d expect.
Design and rehearse a conversation with your boss about her expectations of you; such conversations often have a cathartic effect, improving relations significantly.
Explore your options
Tempting as it may be to tell your boss where to stick his job, it’s not necessarily sensible, especially if he hasn’t always been like this. There are other courses of action. For instance, if you sense that your boss is driving most of your colleagues mad as well, he might not be in place for much longer. In this situation, it may be best to play a waiting game.
Adapt your role
When dealing with work stress such as this, it often seems like you only have black and white choices – either grin and bear it or storm out. However, by reflecting on the situation you may come up with other, more creative solutions.
For instance, have you considered converting your current job into part time work? Or dropping certain responsibilities, and taking on new ones? Or moving roles within your current organisation?
Dealing with a difficult boss is really about looking at the matter from a number of different angles. If your boss is not the only thing making your work life miserable, then perhaps a change of job is an option you seriously need to consider. If your boss is the only thing wrong, then assess whether you’re really prepared to give up your job. Is it worth staying? If so, start working towards a solution; have a different type of conversation with your boss. You both may find the issue becomes increasingly manageable and less overwhelming.