Love Your Job But Hate the Boss? Read This
Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster are the authors of Working for You Isn’t Working for Me – The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Boss. (Portfolio). Their company, K Squared Enterprises, provides consulting and public speaking on workplace relationships. Women For Hire asked them Five Questions. 1) In this economy many people are probably working in jobs they like but for bosses they loathe. Yet they can’t afford to quit. If you had one single bit of advice for them, what would it be? Kathi E – In this tough economy we can’t afford to take our boss’s bad behavior personally. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to detach and depersonalize from the boss.
Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster are the authors of Working for You Isn’t Working for Me – The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Boss. (Portfolio).
Their company, K Squared Enterprises, provides consulting and public speaking on workplace relationships. Women For Hire asked them Five Questions.
1) In this economy many people are probably working in jobs they like but for bosses they loathe. Yet they can’t afford to quit. If you had one single bit of advice for them, what would it be?
Kathi E – In this tough economy we can’t afford to take our boss’s bad behavior personally. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to detach and depersonalize from the boss.
Katherine C – I’d encourage anyone who has to endure working for a boss that he or she loathes to focus on de-stressing in healthy ways. Work out, play sports, meditate, spend time with supportive people, and find ways to showcase your talents. The more you do for yourself outside of the office, the better you’ll be able to manage your boss.
2) I have been a loyal employee at the same company for 30 years. Recently, they hired someone almost half my age, with less experience, to be my boss. We’ve had some run-ins and I’ve concluded that I may not be cut out to work for someone so young. Then again, I need this job. What to do?
Katherine C – The most common emotional reaction to a junior boss is to feel resentful that you have to report to someone with so little actual experience. You may also fear that your 30 years of experience won’t be valued. Your best bet is to assume that you can both learn from each other, but that you have to adapt to your new boss’s perspective first. Your younger boss may feel intimidated by you, so anything you can do to show your willingness to be led by this person will ease the transition for both of you.
Kathi E – It is a challenge to work for someone half your age. Never the less, it’s time for you to adjust your attitude towards your Junior Boss. Take a time out and look at what your new boss does bring to the company that is needed, for instance: new technology, fresh forward thinking, etc. Try to see what you can learn from your new boss and be sure to give him/her credit. The respect will be reciprocated.
3) My company demands that we come up with new ideas and innovations but my new boss is a chronic naysayer. How do I get her to say yes?
Kathi E – Getting a naysayer to be positive is like getting a pig to meow. It’s not going to happen. Unfortunately you will have to weather your bosses negativity and stay positive yourself. Be sure to restore your energy daily (exercise, meditation etc) your naysayer boss can be draining. It’s up to you to stay positive for yourself.
Katherine C – I’d suggest finding out if this naysayer has any ideas or innovations that she’d like to see realized. If you can make one of her hidden dreams come true, you may get a different response the next time you propose a new concept.
4) I am a woman and have worked for men my entire 25-year career, largely without any problem, until recently when a woman became my supervisor. The tension was instantaneous. I want to keep this job and I want to get along, but I find her to be dismissive and headstrong. Frankly, I expected better from another woman? Was I wrong? What to do?
Kathi E – This boss sounds unpleasant and I don’t think being a woman has anything to do with her personality. Plenty of male bosses are dismissive and headstrong. Expecting that a female boss would be a better boss is not a fair expectation. To get along with this kind of boss try doing it her way. I know you know what you’re doing, but try it her way. She will be more likely to listen to your ideas once you have given her a fair chance.
Katherine C – It’s actually a fact that women bosses can be very hard on their female employees. Your first job is to accept the fact that you’ve got a difficult boss. Also, try not to take her behavior personally. Her combative behavior existed before you came into the picture and will continue after you leave. Someone like this usually needs to feel in control. Anything you can do to let her know that you believe in her leadership and want to follow her directives should ease the tension.
5) My boss is a wimp. We work closely together and many projects but when superiors raise doubts about our presentations she never takes a stand. Any advice?
Kathi E – We would call your boss spineless. The best way to work with a spineless boss is to take the lead. Build relationships with other key players in your company to help you out when your boss goes wimpy.
Katherine C – Spineless bosses are terrified of confrontation, so you’ll want to make sure to document the success of your projects and the positive results of your work. That way, the next time a superior raises doubts about your presentation, even if your boss can’t speak up, the data will speak for itself.
I have a very rewarding position, however, my boss is a perfectionist,a control freak and she throws major tantrums for being in such a high-level position. She actually is one of the pioneers of my company, I know I have a lot to learn from her and I have the utmost respect for her, but when she is faced with deadlines and pressure mounts…she takes everything out on me and everyone else in her path.People are afraid to say anything to her about her behavior because they fear they will lose their job. How do I approach her without coming across as demeaning her authority, but letting her know it is stressing me out BIG time and it impairs my ability to carry forth my duties, it makes me stress out and its hard on my family when I come home stressed from my job, not to mention I have been experiencing health problems related to stress.
I don’t have one boss. I have an office full of management, each with an area of my job that they oversee. The areas aren’t always very clearly defined. To top it off, the primary person I have to deal with is known by everybody in the entire agency to be one of the nastiest people you’ll ever come across. The CEO has actually gone into new employee orientation classes and told new hires that “Debbie” is mean and sometimes even verbally abusive, and that they just need to get used to it because Debbie’s not going to change and the upper management love her. Probably because they sic her on people when they need a designated Bad Cop.
I’ll also get in trouble with one manager for following another manager’s instructions.
I once asked three managers a policy question. They started discussing it with each other and concluded that they really didn’t know. And none of them ever got back to me with an answer. So I just came up with a solution that works for my team, knowing that sooner or later one or more of the TEN people I have to answer to will take umbrage.
The saddest thing is that I love the work. I love my clients. I love the people I supervise. I like most of my peers and get along satisfactorily with the rest of them. But management? I want to fill their pockets with candy and call them pinatas. It all stems from the anal-retentive control-freak CEO and his equally anal-retentive control-freak second-in-command/wife, so it’s not going to change. The people who are spending 40 hours a week in the same small building with that Dynamic Duo aren’t going to alienate them in order to make life easier for people working at satellite sites. They’ll continue to micro-manage and nit-pick and make things far more cumbersome than they need to be.