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10 Ways To Deal With A Moody Boss

10 Ways To Deal With A Moody Boss

Is your boss perfectly nice and charming one day and aggressive and bad tempered the next? If so, you have a problem, like millions of others. Dealing with a moody boss is no easy task, but have you thought the whole issue through? Read on to discover 10 ways you can manage her/him and still survive to tell the tale.

1. Try to understand what is really going on

There may be several reasons why your boss behaves like this. Have you thought that any of the following may be an explanation?

  • He or she may be having private personal issues which are spilling over into the workplace
  • There may be intense pressure from higher management to reach targets with reduced resources
  • Lack of self confidence in doing the job
  • It could be a cover up operation for some failure and a temper tantrum can be a camouflage tactic

 2. Try to discover the triggers

You may notice that there is a certain regularity in these outbursts, so it is a good idea to do some detective work here. There could be tension before and after meetings, deadlines for financial returns, or before an audit.

This will help you to use your mood meter radar. If you are successful in this, you can make sure that you avoid your boss at those times and keep out of the way!

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 3. Seek out an ally

A co-worker who is close to your boss may be an invaluable ally in that they can alert you as to when a storm is about to break. They know the normal signs too, but are also aware of emergencies and crises. They may also be able to give you some of the background.

 4. Could you be the cause of the boss’s moodiness?

You should ask yourself honestly if this is a possibility. A boss may be irritated by poor performance, so you have to ask yourself if any of the following could apply to you:

  • Unpunctuality
  • Frequently off sick
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • Inability to get along with co-workers
  • Asking for time off or special arrangements
  • Objectives are not met.

If any of these apply to you, then you can start working on improving them so that you can eliminate this from your list.

Also ask yourself honestly if you yourself are subject to moodiness too. Are there days when you are in such a bad mood that nobody wants to even to talk to you?

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 5. Don’t get infected

The risk of being resentful and hurt when the boss is moody could affect the way you work and how you are treating colleagues and subordinates. This is a vicious circle and could affect staff morale negatively. Resolve to be calm, shrug it off, but also note what is going on. This is the advice offered by Lynn Taylor in her book, ‘Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant’

 6. Limit the fallout

If you are getting too much of your boss’s moodiness and it is affecting your work negatively, have an escape plan so that you can get away. Use some of these excuses to reduce the flak and also protect your own mood from going toxic:

  • Report to finish
  • Urgent phone call to make
  • Client or representative waiting
  • Splitting headache

 7. When things get serious, record everything

If your boss’s behavior turns from moodiness into regular harassment, then you should keep a note of what is happening. Sometimes there is a very fine line between abusive behavior and having a bad day. If you are close to breaking point, this will be really useful when you seek help from HR or actually get to talk to your boss about the issue. You will have legal rights and there should be procedures in place to deal with bullying.

 8. Try to get and give feedback

Performance assessment is ideal for this. If you have a choice about the actual meeting time, choose it wisely, based on your research above. Do your homework. When your boss asks you, ‘Are there any issues troubling you?’, you can point out very politely that certain behavior such as yelling, bad temper and so on are affecting your performance. Your boss may be a ‘histrionic personality’ although you should not point this out!

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Having the documentation here is a great plus because the boss may pretend not to remember or to lack certain self-awareness. You could also point out that certain privacy procedures mean that any feedback on your work is done in private and not in front of other staff.

It is two-way traffic so your boss may point out some defects in your own working methods and this can be really useful to help you improve.  Watch the video on how to approach this meeting.

 9. Don’t act as a therapist

When your boss flies off the handle or vents his rage, there is no need to act as therapist. You are neither qualified nor paid to do such work. Try to put your escape plan (see #6 above) into action if this is taking too long and you want out.

10. Be a good listener

Unfortunately, when a boss lets off steam, he or she is usually trying to make a point or get things done. It could, of course, be just criticism, but usually there is an action point to be emphasised. Yes, it really sucks that they have chosen this way to deliver the lecture!

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Now, here is where good listening techniques come in, because if you switch off, interrupt or make certain assumptions, then communication has broken down. Later, when you have to mop up and ask a lot of questions, the boss may become even moodier!

Have you had to deal with a moody boss? How have you coped and are there any techniques you would like to share with us? Let us have them in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: relative calm holds sway/emdot via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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