Oh yes! They exist and apparently, a lot many in numbers than we would imagine. I have had very limited experience in this area, but enough to share how I dealt with it or refused to at some point.
To start with, here’s a disclaimer, I have had only two terrible bosses and I have had run ins with a few potential disasters but have come away choosing to be unscathed.
But in the instances that I did deal with them and of the many that I have heard of and helped deal with, I was left with some insights that I will share with all of you here.
It may seem strange but start at the beginning if you are interviewing, listen to your gut feel about the person. There are always indicators that tell you about people and how they could potentially be, so you can trust your instinct, yet at the same time don’t judge a book by just its cover. Research them, find out a little bit about their personality and get references before you jump to a sealed conclusion.
Once you step into a role, one you chose to do, its good to keep the eye on the target and focus on being professional about it through and through. Assess if there is merit in labelling your boss as a tough or bad boss because sometimes, it is misdirected or misunderstood, and just clear communication can fix it.
Observation is the key to people management, observe keenly, preferences, likes, dislikes and you will know what will work and yield positive results versus what will trigger negativity. So, keep your senses alert and assess based on your observations.
I keep saying we should keep the person away and separate from the work at hand, detachment is always a great way to function especially in toxic or difficult environments. So, always give precedence to the work at hand and ensure there are no breaks in the loop or flow of work that can impact you or give a chance to your boss to use against you.
Its always good to be ahead of the game and get everything set and going and when you empower your bosses with great work-based inputs, it will work well for the relationship and the team.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be a people pleaser or that you should bend over backwards to get something done and going only to impress. Also, set boundaries in place right at the start both in terms of the work and engagement and how much of energies you invest in it.
Use ways and means of diffusing situations, pre-empting them and working backwards to stop them from happening or spiralling out of control. To deal with a difficult boss, leadership skills of conflict management and resolution can help navigate such situations.
Being evolved and letting the smaller things go yet maintaining the peace is important to work on our own personal mental health rather than let someone else decide or have a hold on our own mind and spirit.
While you adapt to them, there is no reason to take unwarranted flak nor to deal with bullying, so call it out and address it instantly. If the person is unwilling to understand or see your point of view, escalate the conversation, and take it to HR or to your boss’s boss. Seeking outside help is also a great way to deal with this and this could include getting a mentor, speaking to a neutral outsider and could potentially make this an easier cross to carry.
A lot of times they are unaware of their behaviour and its impact on the people around them so it is good to have an open and honest conversation to clear the air.
But if all else fails, there is always an exit plan as a last resort. But don’t work in a place where you are not respected for sure as there are many opportunities and many amazing people out there to work with who will be great for you…
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