Coping With A Difficult Boss

Jul 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Career advice, career challenges, challenges, difficult boss, success

Unless we work for ourselves, most of us have to cope with a boss. What makes a boss more challenging to cope with than other authority figures? Why is more important to learn to cope with your boss?

For one thing the circumstances of working are much different the environment in which we were raised. Even if you had very domineering parents, there was an underlying assurance that they had your best interests at heart, and would take care of you no matter what. Even the worse two-year-old ends the day falling asleep in his mother arms. We are nurtured by our parents, and asked very little in return.

The next big step is going to school. Most schools operate on the same basic model. The teacher, although in charge of the class, has very limited power over the students. There are rewards and punishments – good grades and recognition are the rewards, while bad grades, extra homework, and staying after school are some of the punishments. (When I attended school there were more physical punishments including paddling for bad behavior.) While most kids did not want to be at the bottom of the class or to fail a grade, most did not have real incentives for achievements. Most of us learned if we stayed in the middle of the class we slid though almost unnoticed. There were those who battled it out for top honors, usually spurred on by their parents, and those who sought the attention of being the class clown, but by in large we did our time and did what was necessary to get by.

[In my opinion, there should be more emphasis on the value of learning and achievement in our schools. Most students do not realize the importance of getting good grades and learning how to set and achieve their educational goals until much later in life. Some parents do push their children to be achievers, but most leave it to the school. A teacher has 25 or more students and cannot spend the time to coach each student to be their best. Plus part of school is learning how to study on your own. I was always amazed at the kids who read ahead. How did they know what was coming next? Their parents coached them so they could answer questions in class, and get two bites at learning the material. Did you ever notice the person at work who is still reading ahead?]

When we enter the job market we meet a whole new paradigm. Now we are being paid for our services, and there is a boss to tell us what to do and watch to see that it gets done. Now the rewards and punishments become very real. The rewards are raises, bonuses, and promotions for a job well done: and getting fired, less opportunity for raises, bonuses, and promotions for poor performance. In addition, often bosses assign the worst jobs as a punishment. For example, when I was in the military we were assigned to work in the mess hall, (KP – kitchen police) as part of our training. The Drill Instructor (DI) would tell the Mess Sergeant who should be assigned the toughest jobs. If you got stuck on “Pots and Pans” you knew the DI was not happy with you.
Learning to cope with your boss is the most important part of your job. Almost in every circumstance the boss holds the power over raises, bonuses, and promotions. In school everyone made fun of the teachers pet, but those are the ones who made out the best when it came to classroom perks. The same is true in the workplace.
For some reason there is an aversion to being friends with the boss. When I worked in the “mill”, several of the union reps viewed the boss as the enemy. They were constantly on watch to ensure the boss did not step outside the union contract. This was part of their job as a union rep, but the hostile feeling they instilled in the other workers was a tactic to ensure loyalty to the union. Most employees, like in school, went to work, did their job, and stayed out of the politics. While this was a good survival mode, it did little to get them raises, bonuses, and promotions.

There is no reason to have a physiological block about getting along with your boss. The better working relationship you can establish with your boss, the better your work environment will be. This does not mean you have to be a “yes man” or a toady, but by the same token you don’t always need to be a “no man” or confrontational. The better you can get along with the boss, the less stressful and more enjoyable your job will be.

The PracticaL Mentor’s Guide On How To Cope With A Difficult Boss is full of advice, tactics, and strategies to help you get along better with your boss. Go
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