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If you have a bad boss

Shifting your mindset

If you are having problems working for a bad boss consider that the most common cause for this is that your boss just doesn't know how to manage others effectively. The majority of supervisors have been promoted to a managerial role due to proficiency in their technical skills rather than demonstrating their ability to manage others. Often selection for management roles derives from thinking at a more senior level along the lines of:-

"Well she did a great job on the last two projects she should be able to show a team how it's done." As many of us have already experienced, being a good team player does not mean you will automatically become a team leader and know how to get good results from others. 

Many new Managers take time to settle into their new roles. It is quite a transition to suddenly have managerial responsibility. Many new managers experience fear losing credibility through making mistakes. They fear that they will not be able to keep control and worry that they will not meet the requirements of the job. In response to this fear they often dive in without carefully planning their approach.

This can result in them becoming too extreme in their managerial style and lacking any style flexibility to respond to different situations in the most appropriate way. On one extreme they can be overly controlling, demanding and fault-finding, thinking that is the only way they can ensure that everything gets done to a high standard. On the other extreme they can opt for an overly empowering approach where every decision goes before committee or feedback upon performance is never given for fear of upsetting someone.

Whatever their response, to being outside of their comfort zone, if you can appreciate that their behaviour is probably due to ignorance rather than intent, if you understand that they are doing the best they can with limited experience and knowledge then it is easier to roll with their punches and keep in control of how you choose to react.

Doing all you can to support your boss through this transition enables you to be seen to be a team player and is much more likely to advance your career than choosing to react negatively to the situation. Remember it may be your turn next to become a Manager.

Supporting behaviour does not mean accepting the unacceptable. You need to deal with unacceptable behaviour by staying in control of your emotions. Calmly and directly explain what they have done that is unacceptable and why. For many Managers this is the only way that they can learn what works and what doesn't.

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