Key Strategy: 9 Tips On How To Handle A Problematic Boss

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Mar. 6 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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Handling an overbearing supervisor can be difficult. It can impact your performance in the workplace and cause stress to arise. However, there are various ways to navigate the challenges and maintain a positive professional relationship, such as addressing micromanagement and unclear expectations. Keep reading for nine tips on how to handle a problematic boss.

Perspective Is Everything

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Take a collaborative approach by leveraging the importance of understanding your boss’ perspective. Foster an open dialogue to address your concerns and find solutions. 

Put yourself in their shoes: Take the time to understand your boss’ perspective and motivations. They may be under pressure from higher-ups or facing challenges of their own.

Effective communication: Maintain open and honest communication with your boss. Express your concerns in a professional and constructive manner, focusing on finding solutions rather than pointing fingers.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Learning how to assemble a thorough paper trail of your interactions with your boss can be crucial for navigating workplace challenges. In fact, we’d be remiss not to emphasize the importance of documentation in addressing issues and combating gaslighting tactics in the workplace.

Keep a paper trail: Keep detailed records of interactions with your boss, including emails, meetings, and performance evaluations. This documentation can be invaluable if you need to address issues with HR in the future.

Mary Abbajay, author of “Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss” and president of Careerstone Group, LLC, told HBR that this move is necessary when employees feel gaslighted. 

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“Take notes when communicating with your boss and keep a record of your conversations,” Mary told the outlet. “Try to have witnesses during meetings and use emails or other written documentation to recap conversations and agreements. Copy other team members on emails when appropriate. Be as clear as possible when communicating. Having a real-time record of your interactions will make it harder for your boss to question your sanity and backpedal on agreements. Doing this will also help you identify if you really are being gaslit.” 

Be Your Own Advocate

Be brave. Voice your thoughts. Remember, you are your strongest advocate who can address these matters from firsthand experience.

Seek feedback: Request feedback from your boss on your performance. This aspect can include how you can improve your working relationship. As a result, this shows your willingness to learn and grow, while also giving you insight into their expectations.

Set clear boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy balance. Let your boss know when you’re available and when you need time for yourself.

Build a support network: Cultivate relationships with colleagues, mentors, and HR professionals who can offer support and guidance in dealing with your boss.

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Mindset Matters

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Learn to focus on what you can control, uphold professionalism in all interactions, and explore your options for resolution. In turn, you can ensure you maintain productivity and autonomy in the workplace.

Focus on what you can control: Instead of dwelling on your boss’ behavior, focus on aspects of your environment that you can control. This move can help you stay productive and maintain a sense of autonomy.

Maintain professionalism: Maintain professionalism and integrity in your interactions with your boss at all times. Remember, this extends to even the most tense or difficult situation. As a result, you will demonstrate your maturity and resilience in challenging situations.

Consider your options: If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, evaluate your options. Can you transfer to a different department? Have you sought mediation through HR or looked for a new job? 

Remember the importance of putting yourself first. According to a report by DDI’s Frontline Leader Project via PR Newswirea toxic boss is the reason why 57% of employees have quit their jobs.

“It’s important to protect yourself at all times,” Robyn L. Garrett, author and CEO of leadership coaching firm Beamably said to CNBC. “Make sure you’re taking care of you because they’re not always going to, unfortunately.”

By prioritizing self-care and well-being, you can better cope with stress and maintain your mental and emotional health. Once your health is in check, you can make the best decisions for your career. That said, these tips to handle a problematic boss will make your life at work much easier.

The author’s content and opinions have not been pre-reviewed, approved or endorsed by Discover.

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