Bosses have a lot of tricks and there are a variety of bad bosses who use them. I have already dedicated articles to all kinds of negative treats, such as bossing, divide and conquer tactics, favouritism, nepotism, bullying and being passed over for promotion. In all these cases I have also indicated ways to counter these malpractices. See summary here.
Some of you who suffer from a disagreeable boss may think that you should suffer the tyranny in patience. Nothing is less true: you have much more power than you think! If you know how to deal with difficult people, you can get better from there. Also, your manager could be benefiting from the sharp edges which you have removed. So, why don’t you try and outsmart your boss? Here are 7 tips to tame him.
And what if you actually are smarter than your boss? Read on and see some do’s and don’t s.
The 7 Tips
1. Show empathy
If you receive little recognition from your boss, think how little recognition he might get from his manager. Maybe he copies the counter-productive management style of his boss as normal practice. Try to find out why your boss is so hostile. For example, you could ask: “It seems that you are very busy, maybe I can help you with something?”
2. Stop supporting the bad behaviour
Many employees support the bad behaviour of their boss unintentionally. Case in point: they might laugh for his bad jokes and thereby ensuring that he continues with those jokes. You better ignore this bad behaviour.
3. Encourage positive behaviour
This might not seem easy and it really is not, but equally important is to support positive behaviour in your boss. Forget and forgive the things he did wrong and let him know you appreciate his improved behaviour. Who knows what might evolve from this action? You will only find out after practising this.
4. Seek help from those that do get along with the boss
Find a colleague or colleagues that do well and can handle the person in question. Question them how you can improve your relationship with the boss. Maybe they can tell you things you did not know or realized about your boss.
5. Look for differences in style
Look for existing style differences that explain the conflicts between you and your boss. Is he himself instant and result-oriented, while you are more concerned with the process? It could explain the problems. Try to find out and then give your boss what he wants.
6. Find something you appreciate in your boss
Your boss may be seen as a jerk, but he will still have his good sides. Go in search of them and appreciate them. Praise him with the good traits. After all, you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!
7. Use the formal roads
Many organizations conduct surveys in order to give more information to managers on ongoing processes. This is an excellent opportunity to give feedback. Seize that opportunity! Furthermore in some cases, HR might be of help.
But what if you are really smarter than your boss?
Who does not want to work for a great boss? Someone you respect, who will teach you and make you better. But what if you have important skills in house that your boss lacks? This is a regular phenomenon, experts say, because quite a few managers are not that good at their job.
Here are a few do’s and don’t s to make the best of such a frustrating situation.
Try and help your boss to do his job, by focussing on the big picture: do what’s best for the company. Suggest ways in which he can use you best. See yourself as a complement and find a way to compensate for weaknesses. Does your boss for instance have a helicopter view? If not, then ask questions that lead him away from the details.
Find something in your boss where you have indeed respect for. Try to find positive qualities, things that you admire in your boss (if necessary outside work).
Find other mentors who help you to learn and grow. If you like your boss but are not getting the coaching you need, then broaden your network. Us your own initiative to sign up for projects in which you come into contact with other senior managers. Be explicit about your needs. For example, approaching another manager and say, “I’d like to know more about how you approach this topic or person. Do you mind if we take a few hours to sit and discuss in the next few months? “
Simply accept (not assume: ass-u-me!) that you are better qualified. When people come up higher in the organization, they are often better at managing. If you are smarter, it does not automatically mean that you would be more effective. You also need experience as a manager, good relationships, social capital and emotional intelligence.
Trying to take over your boss’s job? It would be a waste of time as bosses usually win. Many people make the mistake of telling others how incompetent their boss is. Be aware that this will reflect negatively on you.
Should you cover up major faults or structural pattern of failures? Doing your job well is one thing, but hiding the errors of your boss is something else. It is neither good for you, nor for the company. You might feel the need to talk to HR, although this is a hazardous way, as explained here.
What if your boss, in meetings, leaves everyone speechless by the complete irrelevance of his remarks? In such a case, you should always ask for feedback so that it looks like you have sincerely taken his opinion to heart. This is especially important to get a good reference later.
You should not draw attention to your smartness or clearly let on that you feel far superior to your boss. Instead of opposing the situation and getting frustrated, you should consider whether there may be others in the company where you can indeed learn something.
Conclusion + Perfect Way Out
I hope that I convinced you that following above 7 tips, you can outsmart your boss, even when he appears more intelligent than you. It can help you greatly improving your working relationship(s). Be careful of the pitfalls, when you are really smarter than your manager and use the advice given above.
From my own experience I know that the above remedies can work and lead to positive results, however: what if it does not give you the outcome you want? In such a case it is time to start thinking about changing jobs or better yet, becoming your own boss and work from home. I am doing this and so can you!
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As always, feel free to comment or ask any questions and I will respond within 24 hours.