Your Office Coach: Seek Coworkers’ Guidance To ‘Manage’ Nightmare Boss

By Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” In this Q&A McIntyre shares her best advice for dealing with a difficult boss.

Tribune News Service

Q: After starting a new job three months ago, I quickly discovered that my boss is a nightmare. She argues about everything and seems to enjoy yelling at people. Whenever I bring up a work problem, she just rolls her eyes at me and shakes her head.

The worst part is that I have received almost no training for this job. Before I was hired, my manager said she would thoroughly instruct me and answer all my questions. However, she has made it quite clear that she doesn’t like to be bothered.

This woman has been with the company for years, so I’m stuck with her as my boss. But the job pays extremely well, my coworkers are great, and I only plan to work here for two years. Should I put up with this aggravation or just leave?

A: Because you have several good reasons to stay, perhaps you should try to develop some coping mechanisms. As a new employee, you may find your coworkers to be a particularly helpful resource. When dealing with a difficult manager, coworkers can often make life bearable by sticking together and strategizing solutions.

Since your boss seems resistant to providing the promised training, look for experienced colleagues who might fill that role. Given their own history with this dysfunctional manager, they should certainly understand your current dilemma. If you can outline the areas where you still need instruction, perhaps they will help you create a training plan.

If certain employees seem particularly adept at communicating with your boss, take a lesson from their approach. Having identified her hot buttons, they probably know which topics to avoid. They may also have time-tested techniques for asking questions and avoiding arguments. With a little coworker coaching, you may find that “managing up” becomes a lot easier.

Q: I supervise a group of drivers who pick up deliveries in the morning and then head out on their routes for the rest of the day. I only see them for 30 minutes before they leave. As a new manager, I would like to create a positive work environment, but how can I do that with so little time?

A: When you don’t have much time, you must make the most of the time you have. Surveys have shown leadership style to be a strong predictor of job satisfaction, so your own attitude and demeanor can make a big difference. During daily contacts with your team, try to be as helpful, supportive and encouraging as possible.

For any group, one key motivational strategy is to regularly remind them of the importance of their work. Your drivers are not just dropping off boxes, but also insuring that valued items arrive safely and on time. Through friendly interactions with customers, they can represent the company well and encourage repeat business.

To promote camaraderie, consider asking the drivers to share brief stories about their customers, driving experiences or tips for simplifying the job. Finally, if you also communicate via email or text, take those opportunities to share information or request input. You might even solicit ideas for making those half hour meetings more interesting.

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