Hating the boss is a big problem

Do you hate your boss? I mean really hate him or her? You probably don't like the word hate. We were taught early that hating isn't nice and so we dislike ourselves for having the feeling.

If you do hate your boss, you're probably suppressing it or avoiding a confrontation. Obviously, the risks involved in revealing hate are high. You could lose a promotion, be verbally attacked, humiliated or even fired.

Unfortunately, that is often redirected toward others and plays havoc with your emotional life. Hate toward your boss usually results in physical, emotional or relational problems.

Daniel Amen and Emmanuel Cassimatis, authors of "I Hate My Boss?" explain that, on the job, hate typically expresses itself in three ways:

"First, you may become restless, anxious or bored. You may also have a problem with time, being chronically late or forgetting appointments altogether. Second, you may want to quit or get into a different line of work. Third, you may decide to get your boss' approval at any cost and become preoccupied with your own performance.

Working for difficult bosses doesn't stop as you move up to the corporate ladder. In a recent study of highly successful executives, Michael Lombardo and Morgan McCall, researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., found that most had suffered under seemingly intolerable bosses at least once during their careers. But while a few escaped by transferring or quitting most survived and even gained from their experience.

"No boss is really intolerable," one manager claimed. "You can learn something from every one of them."

Whoever's at fault, you're the one who's probably going to do the coping since you're the one who's suffering.

John Gabarro and John Kotter, professors of organizational behavior at Harvard University, recently published the article, "Managing Your Boss," in the "Harvard Business Review." Their research found that while many executives typically handled business problems aggressively, they often were passive when dealing with their bosses. As a result, the careers of otherwise competent managers would derail over "personality conflicts" with a boss.

The most effective managers, on the other hand, learned as much as they could about their bosses and used the information to develop a mutually supportive working relationship.

Here are some tips and techniques to help you endure an insufferable boss:

Consider your boss' short and long-term goals. Only be knowing them can you intelligently decide your own priorities in working for him or her.

Analyze the pressures that your boss' superiors are putting on him. If he's being pressured to show immediate improvements in production, it's no time to propose your long-range plan for reorganization.

Match your work style to your boss. If he's the formal type, communicate at scheduled meetings and by memo. If he wants to be very involved in your planning and decisions, keep him informed as you proceed.

Watch your colleagues who do get along with the boss. They've learned how to cope. Ask them for advice.

Understate the hate so you can respond rationally. Often the seeds of hate lie in disappointment or failed expectations. If your wants and needs aren't recognized, perhaps it's because you didn't communicate them assertively enough. If someone else was promoted instead of you, perhaps he or she was more qualified at the time.

Don't take his or her criticism as a personal attack. Even if it's out of line, sort through the nasty remarks and find the real work-related feedback.

Don't gossip about your boss to co-workers. Others who know him or her will admire you for your ability to remain loyal and professional.

Offer to take responsibility for a task your supervisor dislikes.

Keep track of your boss' mood swings. Observe the times of day and days of the week when he is most receptive. Ask your boss' secretary about his frame of mind before approaching him. Don't go over his or her head. Violating the chain of command almost always backfires. Tell yourself you're working for the company, not the boss.

Try to find a redeeming virtue that will make working for him or her at least bearable. Before taking a new job, ask current or former colleagues and subordinates about your potential boss' personality and managerial style. Ask your potential boss the same question. If your efforts don't improve your ability to cope with the relationship, it might be healthier to transfer or quit than to suffer.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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