Dealing with a boss who blocks your success
Tips to deal with a boss who blocks your efficiency
There's a saying that it's more important to have a good job than a good boss. A good boss will encourage, develop, motivate and challenge you. She will give you ongoing recognition for your accomplishments and will stand by and guide you through your mistakes. She will not hold you back. But what action can you take if you have a boss who blocks your ability to perform efficiently because of her management style?
Poor bosses come in many forms. She can be a micromanager, indecisive, bullying, an imprecise or over communicator, a poor manager of time, budgets or meetings. Or all three. She can be controlling or give no guidance at all. She can be overly present or totally absent. The situation needs to be handled with tact and discretion and sometimes firmness, because after all she is your boss. A boss who blocks you now, stands in the way of your overall career progress and ultimately success. If you can't perform effectively your reputation is at stake. It's not just about the here and now. The earlier you get sound experience of dealing with a poor boss the better it will be for your long-term career.
Angry accusations or passive aggressive behaviour are not going to work. Here are some tips of how to deal with a boss who blocks your success for whatever reason.
- Compile a dossier of instances when the relevant issues occurred. Do not throw the whole book at her. You are not a prosecuting attorney. This is just for reference.
- Create an outline of your main points and rehearse if you think you will get nervous.
- Ask for a meeting. Emphasize how much you enjoy the job and are committed to the department's and company goals. However explain that there do seem to be some issues where you could improve your performance and wanted to hear her thoughts because you have some ideas you would like to share.
A case study
Marianne is a senior operations manager reporting to the CEO. She said "Whenever you Google information on bad bosses, it usually shows images of bosses yelling or bullying. My boss is the complete reverse!" Her boss, a global entrepreneur, with multiple business and philanthropic interests is a very hands off manager. Too hands off for Marianne. Her management style makes it difficult for Marianne to make decisions. The CEO comes to the office for less than 4 hours a day, and only wants to receive one email a week from her direct reports. These are processed and prioritized by her admin staff. Yet she is critical when things are not as she expects. Marianne struggles with the lack of clear guide lines and expectations, and being in a situation where she has to second guess her bosses objectives. She wants to set up a more structured framework for her personal decision-making authority.
Marianne followed this tried and tested script to try to find a workable solution:
Jane - thanks for making time to meet with me today. I know you are busy. I'm really excited to be on the strategy team, although I am struggling in a few operational areas which I want to discuss. I find with the one email a week limit, when x problems occur (name the issue, in a business neutral way) this impacts me in a number of ways. (Name problems and outcomes)
Going forward I would like to get clarity on x and to jointly agree solutions to deal with this, so we can still achieve x results. I want something which works for both of us. (Insert your proposal)
Wait for Jane's imput.
Round up the main points of agreement and confirm your conversation in writing.
Marianne negotiated freedom to sign off on upper budget level decisions and established clearer guidelines for the points at which she flagged up issues for senior approval. This new authority level was communicated to her colleagues.
Not only have you dealt with an immediate problem, you have acquired skills that will support your future career. The first difficult conversation is always the hardest. The next one will be a walk in the park!
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