Think your Boss is a Jerk?
Today I’m exploring a common work-related counseling challenge. “I have a difficult boss. What should I do?”
When I discussed this challenge with my husband he validated, “yes, boss being a jerk is the number one challenge people encounter at work that affects their mental health”. [Disclaimer, this is only an anecdotal claim] My reply was,”great so what’s the solution and he said “quit” and we both laughed. However, in reality, it’s just not that simple.
Following are four ways to assess your boss and work situation before you quit…
First, it’s important to reflect upon whether you are part of the problem. Do you need to adapt? Better manage up? Maybe you’re being too rigid and set in your ways or maybe you’re playing it fast and loose and you need to keep it on the “straight and narrow.” Has your performance slipped or has something changed with you that needs to be addressed? Management is like parenting and relationships – no one knows the right answer all of the time. Maybe it’s worth re-clarifying expectations and developing a plan to exceed them. This is an area where a trusted friend or colleague can provide you with valuable insight.
Check your Boss
Does he or she have something personal going on? Is the organizational hierarchy draining on him or her? Maybe what you’re experiencing is him/her not shielding you from the drama at the top. That’s still a part of their job, but maybe you can cut your boss some slack if it’s not a regular occurrence or you’re close enough to the sun to know what he or she is up against. Maybe you and your boss just have totally different styles and you find it difficult to relate to one another, but you love everything else and the culture about your organization. In that case, it may be worth trying to connect with him/her on a personal level and see where you can make a connection – over lunch or happy hour. Or, simply saying, “I think our working relationship could be improved. Can we try pushing the reset button here?”
Check for Toxicity
If you’ve diagnosed your boss with something from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) then you may have to decide if you want to play therapist [NOTE: Not a good idea and not advised] at work or if it’s easier to move on. That being said, no one knows how much work or boss-related stress you can handle but you. If your philosophy is “It’s the devil I know vs. the devil I don’t,” and the situation isn’t adversely affecting your mental and physical health or that of those around you, then perhaps it’s worth staying put for a while. Either way, getting an objective read from someone who know you and the situation well can provide you with more clarity.
Check the Organization
If you really don’t think it’s possible to push the reset button with your boss, but you love the organization, perhaps there’s another role or opportunity where you’d be a fit. But don’t make a move internally or externally until you try some options and seek out a trusted advocate or coach for guidance. Also, make sure you follow the organization’s protocols regarding internal moves and promotions, especially if the new role involves interaction with your current boss.
Difficult Boss Assessment Checklist
If at the end of the day, if you have concluded:
- I’ve checked myself and I don’t need to change.
- I’ve checked my boss and he/she is normal but just can’t lead or give me what I need.
- The toxicity or bureaucracy isn’t worth putting up with.
- I’ve checked the organization for other options and my prospects are weak.
Then it may be time to seek out a coach for guidance and contemplate moving on.
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- On November 6, 2016