Is there such a thing as a bad boss?

Bad bosses. Most of us have had at least one during our career, and poor leadership is known to directly impact staff turnover. It’s a fact that people tend to leave a job role owing to bad bosses, not necessarily bad organisations.

Sadly, there will always be poor managers, and shifting to remote working in our new COVID-19 world may have made things better for some staff but far worse for others.

Some employees may now be relishing distance away from their boss; others might have seen their boss’s behaviour intensify, get more involved, or worsen if perceived as “micro-managing.”

But is your boss really that bad? Here are a few tips to help you drill down deeper:

Consider confirmation bias

Once we’ve formed a judgement of someone or attached a label, our brain can look for evidence to confirm we’re right. This process is called confirmation bias. We can all be guilty of overlooking positives in favour of rooting out evidence that instead backs up a preconception.  Be as objective as you can be.

Hold up a mirror

Hard as it is, sometimes we need to ask how we have contributed to the behaviour. Spend time holding a mirror up and consider your part in how your boss behaves. Employees don’t come with an operating manual (wouldn’t that be so much easier?!), so even bosses need some guidance and for us to share some accountability.

Reframe the argument

Is your boss actually being rude by not replying to that email, or are they simply busy? It could be that they think it’s an important enough issue to warrant some thought before they respond. Look at the situation from all perspectives, including your workplace culture, and analyse what they do well as well as what you think they don’t.

Put yourself in their shoes

Expand your world view to see things from their perspective. How might they look at things differently to the way you do? What other pressures or priorities might they have on their shoulders that could be influencing their response? Trying to understand their point of view could help you reposition their behaviours, or maybe evoke more empathy for what they are experiencing. This is not making excuses for them, but showing compassion that things may be difficult for them right now.

Help them manage you

You also have a responsibility to help your boss manage you. You need to be brave and share with them your processes, preferences, and what will motivate you as well. They don’t have a crystal ball, so two-way communication and feedback are vital for a good working relationship. Let them know how to get the best from you and what you want or need from them to be successful. Don’t leave them guessing and don’t be afraid to give candid feedback when their leadership is not working for you, but also let them know when they are getting it right too!

With my clients, I often use the Roy T. Bennett quote from The Light in the Heart: “You cannot control the behaviour of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.”

By looking at ourselves as well as our bosses, we can be empowered to change our thinking and improve our working relationships. Use as many tools as you can to improve your manager-employee dialogue.

If you want support with understanding job roles or progressing your career, give me a call to arrange a free chemistry session on 07765 894040.

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