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How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

Most of us probably have had experience with a difficult boss. Sometimes it can just be a personality clash, but we can also find things problematic if we are treated poorly, which will more than likely encourage employees to actively avoid their supervisor both in and out of the office.

There’s no doubt that bad management can seriously impede your job satisfaction, morale and career. More often than not, the simplest solution is to look for a new job so you can thrive in a more positive workplace.

However, having a difficult boss doesn’t mean to say that you should pack up and leave straight away. Your manager may still have the best intentions for the business and its employees, despite their flaws; supervisors who aren’t particularly adept at dealing with people can inevitably cause stress, but that doesn’t suggest that your relationship with them can’t be strengthened. With a little creative thinking, there are some surefire solutions to create a more progressive work environment for both you and your team. 

Hold on to documentation

If you’re working with a particularly difficult manager, don’t be afraid to document of all your communications. Your correspondence will serve as evidence in the event of a dispute, thus protecting you against potential accusations or allegations if the worst should happen.

Start by saving emails in a specific file where you can find them easily. Be sure to submit and receive information in writing, such assignments or meeting agendas. If this isn’t always possible, it’s worth keeping a diary or journal to record your working day; these notes might not necessarily be the most formal of documents, but they can still be a valuable resource if you ever need to look back at what was said and when.

Once you find yourself getting into the habit of recording and saving correspondence, you’ll build up a detailed collection of material that you can refer to if a conflict ever arises. 

Try to see things from their position

A practical way of combatting workplace tensions is to get to grips with you manager’s perspective. There could be legitimate reasons for their actions or attitudes, so it’s worth bearing in mind that there may be some underlying factors at work. Are they feeling pressure from other managers? Have any changes or new forms of legislation come into play that have made the day-to-day running of the office more difficult?

Approaching problems in this manner can ease any frustrations with your boss, and help you to identify potential solutions that you can then implement together. Having a conversation about what can be done to improve workplace dynamics demonstrates your ability to be proactive with management, which should work wonders in improving your relationship and job satisfaction.

Improve communication

Strong communication really can solve a lot of problems, and diffuse frustrations and confusion within the office. A great way to strengthen workplace interactions is to be detail orientated in your meetings, and ask as many questions as possible. Some managers aren’t the best at giving out instructions, so ensure that you’re doing your utmost to understand what they’re asking for and why. You’ll then be able to build up a clear and accurate idea of management expectations, and approach your duties with confidence.

If you’re unsure on something, ask promptly or clarify instructions via email, so you can continue to document your communications appropriately.

Show them your talents 

If your boss is giving you a hard time, hit back in the most productive way possible. Be sure to meet deadlines, finish those assignments, and do your best in all of your duties. It’s easy to become subdued or disinterested in your work if relations with your manager are poor, so you’ll be able to relate to your working environment much more positively when you’re performing to your highest standard.

If your boss is impressed with your work, they’ll more than likely have fewer issues, therefore decreasing the likelihood of negative experiences with them. This also boosts your credentials as an employee, which won’t do you any harm!

Speak out when necessary

One vital thing to remember is to stay professional at all times. Do your best not to get drawn into office politics or petty disputes; staying out of these arguments will uphold your reputation as an employee and allow you to focus upon your duties more effectively.

That being said, if a situation arises that affects your ability to do your work, don’t be afraid to approach your manager. It’s important to try and resolve problems quickly in order to prevent issues from magnifying within the team, so something as simple as an informal discussion with your boss will put you on the right track. 

If your manager wants the business to succeed, it therefore follows that they’ll do what they can to make sure their employees are happy and willing to put their best efforts into their duties. If you find that this isn’t the case, it might be wise to consider speaking with an alternative manager or colleague who can help you - leaving your job should only be a last resort.

Working with a difficult boss can no doubt make your job challenging, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from being successful and enjoying your job. Above all, stay professional, conduct yourself to high standards, and ultimately work to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

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