The roommate from hell who almost made you drop out of college your freshman year didn’t change. She just grew into a mean woman and now she’s your boss. Unfortunately, she brings the same messiness to her team or department.
Those messes are a result of her inability or unwillingness to dialog professionally in order to communicate her vision. She may also have some issues with compromise. If you don’t manage the situation in a way that makes her value your contribution, before long, she will use antagonism and negativity to manage you.
You’ll want to avoid public confrontation and public demonstrations of her power because those games result in a catch-22 where everybody loses. You are valuable to her and she knows it.
The following 10 tips to manage the situation may seem simple, however, read them carefully. The answers are in the details.
Get plenty of rest. If your boss has a habit of calling or emailing you late at night, let her know when her last email will be read. “Amanda, I won’t act on any emails you send me after 7pm.” Then, try to schedule 15 minutes each morning to review emails that were important enough for her to send the night before.
Eat a good breakfast. It’s a cinch most days you’re not going to get lunch on time. So, even if you have to brown bag a muffin and some 100% orange juice, grab some nourishment.
Get to work on time. Beat her into the office. She can’t get mad about that. Look over the board, the log, the agenda for the day. (If you don’t have one, be proactive and offer to set one up with her each week. That way everyone knows what the weekly goals are. Type it up, put her name on it, and send it out. After all, it is her plan. You only typed it.
Give your boss credit for all your good ideas. Everything that goes out of the office should have your boss’s approval or signature. Your creations belong to the boss or the company you work for. Make your boss look good! Once it’s established that you are trustworthy, most bosses will acknowledge your input. Don’t be too quick to toot your own horn.
Work efficiently. Prepare a to-do list in order of importance, or alternate between something easy and something hard. Some bosses need to see a finished product and might not understand that the hardest projects are ongoing or works in progress. When you are finished, prepare notes of what was completed. Email those notes to your boss as a courtesy. Then, forget about it unless she brings it up.
Don’t make or take person phone calls. While my saying this is condescending to some readers, others of us know people who will justify their personal calls with, “I was on my break”, or “I finished everything”. You are never so bored as to make or take personal calls on the job.
Do take your lunch. Offer to bring back something for her from the place of your choosing. “Amanda, I’m going to Chipotle. Do you want a sandwich from there?” If another place is suggested, Just say, “I’m not going there.”
The boss is “the boss”, no matter who you are. One problem with hiring or promoting a friend once you become the boss is that the friend doesn’t understand that ‘the buck stops’ with the boss. You are no longer equal and though you have the boss’s ear and can call her by her first name, she is in charge all by herself. Don’t disagree with her in public. Don’t give others the impression that you can influence her. Don’t act too familiar in public. There is a certain image the boss must maintain.
Don’t be Afraid. Bosses sense fear and most find your fear a waste of time. They need to be able to speak candidly, to voice concern or anger, and not have you become overly sensitive. However, you are not to take cursing or putdowns. Stand respectfully, firm. In most cases, you are someone’s mother or significant other. Act like it!
Do know when it’s time to move on. If your health or your peace-of-mind begin to fail you, then try to find another position as quickly as possible. If you have to take a cut in pay, that’s okay. Your health is worth it. If at all possible, try to secure a position without the boss’s knowledge. While they aren’t allowed to say anything negative about an employee, there are ways. Don’t ever badmouth your boss.
Finally, let your relatives and friends know how they can help you.