By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO
Q. My boss does not behave in a professional manner with me and he uses words that demotivate me in front of other colleagues. He doesn’t even involve me in basic discussions at work, and at the same time he expects me to execute projects within a stringent deadline. Please guide me on how I can focus at work.
A: You are stressed, fed up and unhappy with your job and all interactions with your boss leave you mentally exhausted. But first, don’t assume you have a “bad boss”. For a few weeks, observe your boss’ behaviour in different business settings before you reach such a conclusion. Is your boss toxic with other team members too or is the bad behaviour directed solely at you?
While evaluating your boss, do ensure that you and your boss are aligned on values – if they are aligned there is hope but if misaligned, you will need to change your current job. However, if your boss is a bully, a micromanager, petty or always rude, you can safely deduce that you are stuck with a “bad boss” and it’s time to figure out how to professionally deal with such a boss.
Let us start with the simple premise that the boss is unaware about being a bad boss and lacks the training to build self-awareness about this aspect of being a manager. For example, their micromanaging could be due to insecurity over self-capability or lack of involvement with the team. This may stem from their version of empowering the team.
Invest time in trying to identify the ‘triggers’ for your boss. Is it anger management issues? Does your boss have a complete meltdown when demands increase at certain times during the business cycle? Or is it lack of punctuality? This will help you build awareness and eliminate a few small triggers. For instance, if your boss hates to be late for client calls, reach a few minutes earlier/ dial-in in advance. If your boss is a micromanager, anticipate a few requirements beforehand and ensure they are taken care of, eliminating frequent bad conversations. Repeating the points made by the boss at the end of a meeting may help them see things in a different perspective.
Schedule a short one-on-one meeting with your boss and talk about how you need support and feedback to achieve your career goals. You can use this private meeting as a chance to draw attention to the fact that their remarks or yelling are stressful and hampering your ability to deliver to the highest level. Subsequently, based on the feedback, share back the proactive steps you have taken to deliver to the expected standards.
Allow your boss some time to change their behaviour. In the meantime, try to minimise the effect of the bad behaviour and focus on doing a good job. Don’t try to level the score by taking extra “sick leave”, working slower or taking longer coffee breaks; lowering your productivity is a short-term approach and will only help your boss build a case against you.
If possible, take a proactive approach by trying to make some decisions on your own because if you are good at your job, you can steer towards achieving better results for your company. Interestingly, employees who take a proactive approach emerge as informal leaders and build their visibility in the right circles.
If your boss’ behaviour does not change, appeal to the HR department and share details of their bad behaviour towards you. Also, you can get help from your mentor within the organisation who can guide you on your future prospects within the company.
(Article appeared on October 26,2021 in The Times of India, Worklife + section)