By Adelia Cellini Linecker
For starters, let’s assume we’re not talking about abusive bosses of the kind Harvey Weinstein’s alleged to be. If you’re ever in a situation even remotely as serious as the assaults he’s been accused of, you need to report it immediately to your human resources department and/or get top-notch legal help.
That said, dealing with challenging bosses can help you learn how to cope with a range of difficult people and situations.
“It’s the tough experiences in your career that make you stronger,” said Karyn Schoenbart, author of “MOM B.A.” and CEO of The NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services. “You learn more from bad experiences than good ones.”
Consider the bad experiences you survive as “notches on your belt” on your way to a more “well-rounded career,” Schoenbart added. “If everything were great all the time, you wouldn’t learn coping skills.”
Bonus: Having a variety of bosses and managers helps you decide what kind of manager you want to be eventually.
Micromanager vs. hands-off.
Having a mentor supervisor guiding you every step of the way is a double-edge sword.
“Most people early on in their careers do very well with a nurturing boss who gives a lot of feedback and direction,” Schoenbart said. “But that kind of boss can be stifling and not let you grow to your potential.”
On the other hand, a completely absent manager can leave a new employee feeling rudderless. The silver lining in this situation is that you learn to make your own decisions and be responsible for the outcome.
Ideally, you work your way to a balanced relationship. One way to do this is to assess your situation and carefully plan a discussion with your boss.
“You want to be the best you can be in any situation,” Schoenbart said. “Write down your talking points — and practice.”
Come to an agreement about work expectations and roles, says Pamela Slim, a Mesa, Ariz.-based business coach. “Standards should be clearly defined to minimize micromanaging,” she said. “Ask what is the best way to get feedback and set aside a time for it.”
In the absence of direction, “create a plan on your own and check in to see if you’re on the right track,” Slim added. “Try to have a meeting. Email your request. Document your effort; this shows great initiative and gives you a foundation for having a discussion in the future.”
If you still don’t get feedback, talk to others on the management team for guidance or feedback. Figure out your boss’s preferred method of communication. If they don’t like email, maybe they want a quick text?
“Find out what you need to do when you really do need a reply,” Slim said. “Work out an agreement that makes it clear that when your email subject line says ‘URGENT’ or ‘decision needed by 5 p.m.,’ a reply is truly needed.”
When a boss takes credit for your success, find out what is motivating them to do it.
“Maybe they are more scared than overly ambitious,” Slim said. “What has their journey been and what is their vision?”
Talk with people who have worked with that person before, Slim says. The boss’s actions could be based on insecurity and fear. The way to handle this is to “do things that make them look good and still get credit.”
To protect yourself, copy others on emails with your ideas, when appropriate, Slim adds.
Know when to fold.
When you’ve done all you can to deal with your boss’s bad behavior, it’s time to make more drastic changes. Leaving the company really should be a last resort, however, especially if you enjoy other co-workers and believe in the company’s products or services.
Consider first if you can quit your boss but not your company. Network with others at work. Volunteer to pitch in on projects with other managers. Go above and beyond to buddy up with other employees, Schoenbart says.
“You don’t want to become disgruntled or a bad egg; that’s a career-killer,” she said. “Let people know you are dedicated, but it’s just an issue with this particular manager.”
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This content was originally published by Investors Business Daily. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Investors Business Daily