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Coping with Your Boss, No Matter What Fate Provides

Nobody, but nobody is more important to your job satisfaction and happiness, your progress and development on the job than your boss. Some people are lucky to be assigned to a boss who is a good leader, teacher, and mentor, while others may work for one who is the opposite.

No matter who the fates give you as a supervisor, you can make the most of it by studying your boss’s goals, style, and work habits and then tailoring your actions accordingly.

Dos and Don’ts in Dealing with Your Boss

Here are some basic guidelines that will help you develop coping strategies for dealing with your supervisor.

The Dos
Do watch the example of the people who get along with your boss. They, after all, have learned how to cope. Try to learn from them and follow their example.

Do consider that you may be partly responsible for your poor relationship with your supervisor if you have one. Remember it takes two to tango. Moreover, while you can’t change your boss, you can change how you behave, so take responsibility and take action to make positive change happen.

Do try to make your employer’s job easier by offering to take responsibility for those tasks he may dislike doing.

Do keep track of your boss’s mood swings. Observe the times of day and the days of the week when he is in the most receptive frame of mind.

Do tell the boss how you feel about her treatment of you. Don’t hide your feelings. Wait until she has cooled down to discuss how you feel, and then talk calmly and, of course, in private.

Do monitor your progress. If you are not having the success you desire, reevaluate the way you are dealing with your supervisor and take another tack if necessary. Be patient.

The Don’ts
Don’t dispute your employer’s authority, even if you disagree with her judgment in a particular situation.

Don’t take criticism as a personal attack. Even if your boss is out of line, it will help to distinguish between your job, which may be bearable, and your boss, who may not be.

Don’t put yourself in a position to be criticized by seeking the boss’s approval when it isn’t required. Do some things, and tell him about them…later.

Don’t malign your boss by gossiping behind his back. Be loyal.

Don’t go over the boss’s head unless it’s absolutely critical such as an emergency or crisis situation. Violating the chain of command almost always causes more problems than it solves.

And, above all, don’t lose your self-respect. If your coping strategies have failed and a transfer is impossible, do what you have to do to keep your self-esteem, even if it means finding a new job and a new boss.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from The Power of a Positive Attitude: Developing the Key to Success by Roger Fritz. Copyright 2008, Roger Frtiz. Published by AMACOM. For more information, visit www.amacombooks.org

About the Author(s)

Roger Fritz is president of Organization Development Consultants. He has more than 40 years of experience as an educator, manager, university president, and highly successful consultant.