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What to Do if You Don’t Get Along with Your Boss

What to Do if You Don’t Get Along with Your Boss

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    What should you do if you really cannot get on with your boss at work?  Maybe there has been a breakdown in trust, in communication or in respect.    In any event it is ruining your time at work and making you frustrated and unhappy. Let’s call your manager “John” and see how we can approach the situation.   (The advice here works equally well whether your boss is a man or a woman).

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    1. How do other people find him? Does everyone have a hard time with John or is it just you?  Check out how other people get on with him by asking subtle questions – do not rant about how awful he is and see if others agree.  If everyone has a problem with him then you have some common ground on which to work.  If only you have difficulties with him then you need to examine yourself and your relationship with him.

    2. Ask yourself why. List all the reasons why you think things are not working between you. There are probably some big assumptions on your list so you will need to validate them carefully.

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    3. Have a heart to heart meeting. Schedule a time to meet John when he is not under pressure.  Tell him that you want to discuss some important issues.  At the meeting explain very calmly and rationally that you do not feel the relationship is working well and that you would like to explore why and how to improve it.   Do not go into a long list of complaints and sores.   Take a factual example if you can and start from there.  Let him do most of the talking.  Try to see the situation from his point of view and understand exactly what he sees as the issues.  See how many of the problems you listed at point 2 above are real.

    4. Agree an action plan. If you can agree a plan for outcomes that you both want then it really helps. What is it that he wants you to achieve?  If you deliver it will he be happy with your performance?  Even if you disagree on all sorts of other things try to agree on what your key job objectives are.  Ideally you should agree actions that each of you will take to improve the working relationship.

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    5. Try to understand his objectives and motivation. Even if John is lazy, dishonest and spiteful you can still find out what he is keen to achieve and work with him towards his goals.  If you can find a way to help him with his objectives then maybe you can work around his faults.  A good rule at work is to help your boss to succeed – whether you like him or not.  Other people will see you do this and it works to your credit – especially if they know that your boss is difficult.

    6. Go over his head. This is a risky option but sometimes it is necessary – especially if most other people share the same problems with John.  Have a quiet word with your boss’s boss and say that you feel that the department is not achieving all that it could.  Make some broad suggestions about how things could be improved without making direct accusations against John.  Let the senior manager read between the lines; he or she probably knows already.

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    7. Move sideways in the organization. If you cannot move up then move across for a while. Get some experience in another department.  Eventually John will move on, be fired or quit.  If you are seen as a positive contributor then you may get your chance to do John’s job better than he did.

    8. Quit. Life is too short to spend it in a job that makes you miserable.  If you have tried all of the routes above and are still blocked and frustrated then find a job elsewhere.  There are plenty of good bosses who want enthusiastic and diligent people to work for them.

    Sooner or later most of us will get a difficult boss to deal with.  Do not become sullen or aggressive.  The trick is to figure out a way to get on with the boss in a manner that helps both of you.  It can nearly always be done.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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