Want to fire your boss?
|October 28, 2011||Posted by Anharris under Articles, Workplace|
The following article was originally published by MSN. c. Anita M. Harris All rights reserved.
by Anita Harris
Do you ever wish you could fire your boss? If you do, you are not alone.
- A waitress-in-training returns from the rest room to find her “big, fat, hairy” employer standing stark naked, wearing only “a big lecherous smile.”
- An employee in the promotional group of a $3 billion company suffers with a “manager” who throws chairs and falsifies reports
- A bookkeeper breaks her ankle on the job but her supervisor insists that she finish the invoices—a five-hour job– before going to the emergency room.
All of these stories appeared on the Web site of Business Research Lab, (http://www.busreslab.com/bosses/badboss.htm) , an employee satisfaction measurement firm that invites “good” and “bad boss” submissions and pays $10 for each story it posts. In surveys, most employees report that they are satisfied with their supervisors, says partner Clive Medrick. But Medrick attests that he, personally, has seen people “break down and cry” because of the way they are treated at work. “It surprises me that some companies will let bosses get away with some of the things that they do,” Medrick says.
Some bad bosses are criminal: they may steal, discriminate or harass. Others are reprehensible: they yell, swear, bully, humiliate, lie, cheat, intimidate or take credit for other peoples’ work. Still others are pathetic–incompetent, spineless, fearful or needy. Well-meaning bosses can be problematic—especially if they are poor communicators or micromanagers, or work so hard at their own jobs that they are impossible to reach, according to Traci Vujicich <http://www.2balanceyourlife.bigstep.com>, a management consultant and executive coach in Los Angeles. Cliff Hakim, president of Rethinking Work, an executive coaching firm in Massachusetts, points out that even a seemingly nice boss might considered “difficult” when graciously thanking you for working overtime but piling on more assignments.
If your boss is driving you crazy, Hakim says, you should analyze your situation. You then have three main choices: you can try to change the situation; you can live with it; or you can leave.
(1) Define the problem
The first step in dealing with a difficult boss is to figure out what is going on. “Take a deep breath and ask yourself what is not working for you, ” Hakim says. Is your boss asking you to do to much work in the allotted time? Not giving you enough information about what needs to be done? Berating you or being overly critical?
Next, talk to trusted colleagues to determine whether the boss is this way with everyone or if you are being singled out.
You should also take stock of your own role, says Phyllis Stein, a career counselor in Cambridge, MA. “If this is your seventh bad boss in a row,” she suggests, ask yourself if you are choosing jobs badly, overreacting, taking things too personally, or doing something that provokes all of your bosses to respond in a negative way.
(2) Try to change the situation
Once you’ve clarified the particulars, ascertain that if there is anything you can do to change them.
If the boss is doing something illegal—such as sexual harassment—you might want to consult a lawyer to determine if there are formal steps you should take. If your boss’s actions are reprehensible, unprofessional or against company guidelines, it might help to contact your union or human resources department. In one university news office, a group of colleagues went over the head of their verbally abusive editor to persuade her superiors to ease her out of her post. If your boss is kindly but clueless, a simple discussion might help. Stein described a micromanager whose staff got together and explained that while they admired her quest for excellence, they could do a better job if she left them more to their own devices. The micromanager understood their point, and changed her irritating ways.
It can take courage to stand up for yourself, Hakim says, because, in a hierarchical situation, you are vulnerable, and your boss has the power to fire you. But if your self-esteem or dignity is being challenged, it is important to find a way to say, “I will not tolerate your behavior.”
Hakim recommends calling or e-mailing a difficult boss to schedule a ten-minute meeting, in which you outline the problem and come up with a behavioral suggestion to ease the tension. For example, “You could say, ‘I’m feeling that I can’t get my work done when I am being chastised; it would be helpful to set up a timeline so that I know which are the most crucial tasks to complete each week.’”
Unfortunately, most bosses are not likely to change, Vujicich says. “ Habits are ingrained; this is who they are.” If managers are liked by the organization, or if they are having a positive effect on the bottom line, there may be no institutional incentive or pressure for them to change, she adds.
(3) Decide whether to remain on the job, for how long, and how best to cope.
If change is unlikely, decide whether it is worth it to you stay in your job, and if it is, for how long.
Vujicich described a graduate student who interned for a college professor who became verbally abusive when he couldn’t find a paper that was sitting on his own desk, in plain sight. The intern decided to “grit her teeth and bear it,” because the professor behaved that way with everyone; the intern needed the professor’s recommendation; the job had a natural end point, and it was an important step in her career ladder.
Similarly, Stein had a client in her fifties who “cowered” when her boss in a nonprofit agency screamed and yelled. A victim of childhood abuse, Stein’s client decided that leaving the situation would not help her cope with managerial bullying in future jobs. Stein’s client went into therapy to deal with her old issues, and, with Stein, developed techniques that helped her react less personally to her boss’ behavior.
Still, it is not healthy to allow yourself to be a victim for an extended period of time, Hakim says. If you choose to remain in a difficult situation, Vujicich and Stein agree, you need external support such as a counselor, family or friends, and you should fill your life outside of work with activities you enjoy, to diffuse the stress.
(4) Leave on your own terms
Sometimes, Vejicich says, the job has no long-term prospects and the situation is, simply, “doomed.” In Hakim’s view, “If you feel your spirit is compromised to the point where you can’t be who you really are, if you can’t use your talents and energy, or if someone’s personality and demands are encroaching on you as a person,” it is clearly time to leave. If this is the case, avoid walking out “angry, in a ‘blinded’ way, ” he says. Recognize that the situation “is not about you: it is about someone else, who cannot change.” Plan for your departure, and try to leave when your work is going well rather than when it is “in the tank. ” Not only is it helpful to have a positive story to tell future employers, but, Hakim says, it is important to leave with “honor” for the work you have done.