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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

    Face Adversity with a Smile How to Win an Argument – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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