• Aryeh Brickner

Help! Tips to ease the tension from an "irritating" boss.

Nearly everyone has some sort of boss/manager/supervisor they need to report to. Even a CEO has investors or a board he or she are held accountable too. Sometimes this person can be a bit difficult or dare I say, a pain in the neck. The modern-day lingo has a term for dealing with this, it's called “Managing up”. To me it always sounded a bit sketchy, “You need to learn to manage up,” as if it was some dark magic skill to handling an annoying boss.

Let’s face it, nobody is perfect and therefore no boss will be perfect. Look at it more along the lines of relationship management. You have a relationship with your boss to manage, and the more effort you put into it or actively manage it, the more you will likely be satisfied with it.

What’s the best way to handle my "irritating" manager?

1. Understand their habits. If they like email updates, be sure to send them before they are requested. If they are more face to face, pop into their office and let them know what’s going on. If they like to see things in graph form, learn how to create the best damned graphs you can! Whatever you do, don’t battle them on their preferences.

2. Nature vs. Nurture: Ascertain if a behavioral trait they are exhibiting is due to their nature or perhaps because of something you are doing. “I see you’ve asked me to send you the final numbers for July again. Is my filing system not clear or is there somewhere else you’d like me to store the information?” If they have a decent amount of emotional intelligence they may get the hint, and if not, it could be they are just naturally disorganized. (I can certainly relate to that!)

3. Set expectations: Some managers will want to be copied on every single email or ask to sit in on every meeting. Set expectations with them about their behavior and explain how it impacts you.

4. Learn their schedule! If they have a weekly meeting with their manager on Tuesday afternoons, be sure to provide all relevant information beforehand. If they feel on top of the situation at work they are less likely to bombard you with requests.

5. We’ve all encountered managers who frequently changes their minds. Today it’s turn left, and tomorrow its turn right. If your boss is prone to changing their mind, build some artificial stoplights for them. “Would you like to sleep on it and we’ll confirm this decision tomorrow?” “I am going to send you a summary of our decisions, please review them again to make sure we’re on the same page.”

6. Don’t expect them to change. It’s possible they will see their quirky behavior is impacting you and genuinely try and alter it but more likely whatever it is that’s bothering you is something you will have to learn to live with. Sometime once we accept someone’s quirks we don’t get so irritated by them.

7. Keep score! Make yourself a "sticker chart" for every time they ask you for the same thing, change their mind, or move a meeting 12 times. When you reach your goal, treat yourself to something nice!

8. And of course, never talk badly about them. Nobody is perfect.

9. If the situation is so unbearable that it’s giving you anxiety attacks, or you simply feel abused, it may be time to consider a new job. Life is too short to put up with an overbearing manager!

All managers have their own particular quirks. The sooner we learn to live with them, understand them, celebrate them, or even come to appreciate them, the more we can enjoy our time at the office!

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