Managing the manager from hell

Managing the manager from hell

How did this happen? You had a great interview with your future boss. Everything clicked: same values, same interests, same working style.

By the second week, you realize you made a BIG mistake. There’s either too much work or not enough. Nothing you do is satisfactory, no matter how much effort you put into the task. Your boss never has time to talk with you, or is yelling and screaming and breathing over your shoulder.

Different managers’ personalities need to be handled in different ways. Strategies need to be developed so you are managing your manager, not the other way around. Easier said than done, you say? Read on.

How to manage the over loader boss

A good way to deal with an over loader manager is to suggest that your workload be shared by lower-level people in the organization who “need development.” Or perhaps the company could bring in a college student willing to work for free as an intern. You, of course, would supervise these people to demonstrate your excellent management skills. And if you are staying late night after night, tell your manager you have a personal commitment on Tuesdays and Thursdays for which you must leave on time. Meanwhile, you could propose ways for work to be done more efficiently, such as checking to see if anyone actually reads all the reports you generate.

How to manage the under loader boss

Close cousin of the “No Show” (the manager who always has some excuse for not being in the office), a solution to the boss who does not give you enough work to do is to make appointments with colleagues for quick, information-gathering sessions. Ask coworkers what they always wanted to accomplish but never had the time to do. Then offer to help. Next, find out which groups in the company your department works with. Meet with them as well.

By casting your net beyond your boss, some projects will surface that you can volunteer to tackle. Even if you work in a small business, there is probably someone who could use an extra hand, or you can always try and come up with your own ideas for a smoother running office. This way you can keep busy – and look like a hero if you can manage to pull them off.

How to manage the timekeeper boss

Many bosses seem to believe their most important responsibility is to walk around and make sure everyone arrives on time. It doesn’t really matter what you do the rest of the day except, of course, leave early or take a long lunch.

The obvious strategy here is to get to work on time or have a great excuse when you can’t. The good news is there is probably no need to get to work early or stay late, as no one will be there to notice.

How to manage the micromanager boss

The best strategy for dealing with a micromanager is to slowly build up trust. Keep them informed about everything you are doing even if it drives you crazy. Copy them on all emails. Before you start any new project, review step by step with your manager on how you plan to implement. Ask for their advice and then send them an email to confirm their approval. As trust develops (and it will someday), try slowly weaning them off having to approve every detail.

How to manage the nitpicker boss

Very few people mind rewriting something once or twice, but after 5 or 6 times it gets a little old. For this situation, try inserting words and sentences that obviously don’t belong in a document. This gives the boss an opportunity to use the red pen while keeping your original document intact.

A walk around the building in between rewrites is also helpful. And for victims of nitpickers for whom every “T” must be crossed and every “I” dotted, attention to detail isn’t such a bad thing to learn.

How to manage the yeller and screamer boss

Your first tactic to respond while your manager is yelling and screaming at you is to stand up if they are sitting. Say your back is killing you. It’s much harder to be yelled at when someone has to look up at you. And if you talk in a very quiet voice, it might help calm them down.

Here, your best defense is an offense. Think of something to critique, in a constructive way, about how things are done in the department. Suggest better methods that would improve everyone’s ability to do their job. This is a great way to deflect attention from your alleged mistake.

A final word of advice for any kind of hellish work environment: get support from your peers. Chances are if you are being pummeled and picked on, they are too. Finding a good mentor can also be invaluable. Choose someone who has been around for a while and is well thought of in the company. A mentor can give you advice on how to handle a political situation and how to manage your boss. If you work in a very small company with no one to turn to for support, find a friend or mentor outside the business who can make suggestions on how to handle a difficult manager.

But if the job is really bad, the kind that threatens to wreck your health or home life, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. Get out of your cubicle and meet as many other people in the company as possible. That way you can get the scoop on other job openings and possibly arrange for an internal transfer. At least you’ll know what to avoid in your next interview.