Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Don’t Lament “My Bad Boss Never Listens to Me!” Do Your Research!

You can’t get your Bad Boss to listen to you--no big surprise, there. However, there are times when you really need your Bad Boss to hear you, because there’s just no other way to get what you need.

Alison Green, author of  the popular Ask a Manager blog, has some excellent suggestions on how to talk to your boss to maximize your chances of actually being heard:

“Pay attention to your boss's communication preferences. You might prefer writing lengthy reports, but if your boss prefers a one-page bulleted list or an in-person chat, your preferences will have to make way for hers – at least if you want to increase your chances of a good outcome. It's important to pay attention to how your boss prefers to communicate and adapt accordingly. If you learn that she's always harried on Monday mornings and rarely checks her email, or that she rarely has much time to talk unless you schedule a meeting, you can pick the approach most likely to get what you need.

Be attuned to how much information your boss wants. Some bosses want to hear all the background and every option you considered and why. Other bosses just want to hear the basics, and have little patience for the supporting details. And sometimes it varies depending on the context – your boss may not have any interest in hearing about all the options you considered for the new copier, but might care very much about what process you took before recommending a new product line.”

In a nutshell, research your Bad Boss’s communication likes and dislikes before you approach your boss. Pay attention to when your boss has seemed more open to employee requests, and which ones were more successful.

Now you’re in a much better to position to actually get heard!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bad Bosses And the Phoniness of National Boss Day

National Boss Day was October 16—the day you had to paste a smile on your face and pretend that your bad boss was a great boss. The day may have been frustrating because of the phoniness of your outward emotions, but it can be used as motivation to take charge of your work life and career.

Most employees think they are powerless in their relationship with their bad boss and that they just have to put up with bad boss behavior. That’s not true. We’re all human and we all have secret fears and desires. Your boss is no different. Say you have a screamer boss. Screamer bosses usually yell at others because they fear they can’t pull it together when hit with something unexpected, no matter how large or small. Their yelling is a sign of their insecurity. They are just paper tigers. Once you realize why your bad boss behaves the way he does, you hold the power.

There are all types of bad boss types with their own set of remedies. For a screamer boss, be his compass. Take the initiative to stop problems before they start and provide solutions to fix problems when they occur. He looks competent, which is what he desires, and you become invaluable. The screaming will stop, at least at you.

In a 2012 survey by talent management expert DDI, 60 percent of those surveyed reported their boss had damaged their self-esteem, while nearly one-third of employees said their supervisor did not remain calm and constructive when discussing problems. These numbers are unacceptable. There is a solution. Quit looking at your bad boss as some monolithic horror keeping you in misery, and instead look at your boss as a person with fears and desires that you can help resolve. Your importance within the company will rise and the workplace will be a lot quieter. 

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Give Yourself an A to Stay Motivated Despite Your Bad Boss

One of the biggest challenges you face with a Bad Boss is the complete lack of boss-given inspiration or motivation. Yet only when you are inspired, will you remain sufficiently engaged to do your best work--and succeed.

Your Bad Boss not only won’t inspire you to your best self, prime demoralizer you’re your boss is, he/she is completely incapable of it. No worries--you can keep the drive alive by motivating yourself!

I came across a wonderful idea that Benjamin Zander, college professor uses with his students, operating in the competitive and arduous world of classical music. “On the first day of class he announces that everyone has already been given an A for the semester. Their responsibility is to 1) document why they have earned that grade in a letter written in the past tense and 2) act as an A student throughout the duration of the semester. Giving each student an A on the first day of class has revolutionized his students’ lives. Benjamin Zander and  Rosamund Stone Zander report in their book that Benjamin Zander's students’ performance in the classroom and on stage improved over their previous performance.”

Use this approach to motivate yourself! Give yourself an A for whatever project or task you’ve been assigned, take a minute or two to jot down why you earned that A, and then spend the rest of the duration of that project or task behaving like a A student.

You’ll amaze yourself at how much easier it is to perform at your very best, when you’ve set yourself up mentally to do just that.

Even if you have the very baddest of Bad Bosses.