Maintaining a stress free work environment is essential to enjoying what you do on a daily basis. Sometimes, this can be difficult to do when you’re working under a tough boss. It’s important to seek out the different ways in which you can make your relationship a positive one, rather than dread every interaction you have with them. Not only will this make your day to day tasks much more enjoyable but it will also leverage your ability to succeed where you work. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you find yourself in this situation.
What makes a tough boss? Characteristics of a tough boss can vary depending on the person. Some of the most common things you might see are micromanagement, lack of respect, and being very one-sided towards employees. There are lots of others out there, but these will definitely tend to cause challenges in the workplace.
Document Preferences and Workflows: Before you find yourself feeling like a failure or that you continuously are messing up in the workplace, take notes on how your boss works. You can start by observing their daily routine and finding out their work habits. What do they do in their normal day to day activities to allow them to be successful at their own job? For example, observe simple things such as do they prefer written communication or do they prefer you coming straight to them to tell them something? By understanding these things up front, it allows you to understand their work habits and what’s important to them. Avoiding this only furthers you from doing things the way they may want, which can lead to friction in the workplace.
Validate What’s Important to Them: It can be difficult when you find yourself on different pages with your boss regarding how to complete tasks. There are several ways to combat this. If there is something you were told you did wrong that you may disagree with, it’s important to first validate your boss's concerns and then explain your thought process. You can use phrases such as, “I understand why you did not like the way it was done” or “It makes sense what you are saying, thank you for that feedback.” If appropriate, follow up with statements that will allow you to fix your mistake for the next time such as, “If it is alright with you, could we try this for next time?” Phrasing is key to moving forward on the right foot, rather than taking multiple steps back from where you started. Making your boss feel inferior or coming across to them that you do not value their advice could lead to more challenging situations.
Maintain Professionalism: Professionalism should always be maintained in the workplace. More importantly, it is crucial to stay professional when you are dealing with a tough boss. Sometimes you may have to encounter uncomfortable conversations, this is simply a part of working in the professional world, but how you approach them says everything about the way you handle yourself day to day. When entering into a situation that you may not agree with, be open-minded and know that you may not agree with everything being said. For example, rather than talking back, raising your voice, or talking down to your boss, show that you understand what they are saying to you and ask how you can improve for the future. This will show that you are listening to what is being said and want to improve on what you did wrong. Staying positive and not taking things personally is key to maintaining a non-toxic environment.
Communicate: In order for any job to go smoothly, communication is crucial to having success. In this case, it’s best to over communicate, rather than under communicate. Lack of communication will simply lead to more questions being asked and frustrations potentially brewing in the background. Understand up front how your boss likes communication being presented. Do they like emails being neat and organized, do they like weekly meetings being scheduled? Also when thinking about communication, it shows initiative to be proactive when certain requests come in from a client. Use language with your boss such as, “I can run with this if it is okay with you” or “Here is how I might handle it.” Staying one step ahead will lead to much more enjoyable conversations in the future.
Dealing with a tough boss can be difficult, but keeping these tips in mind within the workplace can strengthen your ability to overcome these challenging situations. It is never easy when you find yourself frustrated in the workplace because of something your boss communicated or did, but keeping calm, being professional, and understanding how to move forward will help you in the long run.
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