T Nation

Dealing with a Tough Boss


#1

I realized today how nervous and annoyed my boss makes me and that I need to figure out a way to deal with it without flipping a shit or losing my cool. My boss is basically the highly detail oriented micomanager type who tends to be passive aggressive. It didn't used to bother me until I was assigned one project and didn't use the method he used to solve the problem.

After a debate and getting some people involved outside our group (I work for a large company with many departments) it was decided in this meeting that the method I used was correct. Ironically, I was not invited to this meeting and another supervisor in attendance congratulated me on the good job after he got out.

Ever since then I noticed my boss has been up my ass more than usual. I cant prove this fact, but I feel like he goes out of his way to look for errors in my work and has since been assigning me more mundane tasks. In a way I cant complain, because I hate interacting with the guy in the first place, but I feel like it is kind of childish and I don't understand the motivation.

One instance stands out that lead me to the conclusion in the above paragraph. My boss was asking me a lot of questions about this one assignment. He kept questioning me about the answer I was giving him to his question. I thought the answer was straightforward but apparently not, so he called another supervisor to get a second opinion. I ended up getting assigned to go down to that supervisor and get his feedback more formally. When I arrived at the other supervisors office, the first thing he said was "I dont know why the hell he is wasting our time asking this question." Then I asked the other supervisor if the information I gave my boss was incorrect or if I was misunderstanding something. He told me no, my answer was fine, and then told me "Just try to relax and let it roll off your shoulders." And to top it off, even after I told my boss that the other supervisor agreed with my answer, he still didnt accept it but said something along the lines of "Whatever, let's just get this out of here."

So at this point I need a coping mechanism to not let my boss get under my skin, because when he does it starts affecting my work and I start making stupid mistakes, which gives him ammo to go looking for errors.

And as an aside. Adults are full of shit that the "real world" is tough. If you ask me this is worse than high school At least in HS, if someone pissed you off you could kick their ass in the locker room. Here you have to smile and take it like a bitch. Sometimes I wish I was born a wimp so this childish crap wouldnt get to me.


#2

You have two options in my opinion.

Subtly credit your creativity to your bosses guidance to him, or publically to feed his ego and get him off your back. What he wants is to feel responsible for success. Make a comment relating what you did to something he taught you even if it is vague, or a half truth.

Antagonize your boss until you either no longer work there or change projects or departments.

I don’t fully understand your position but if you are career minded sometimes sucking up your pride and letting your boss have what he wants can lead to better things later. If you are going to deal with this for the forseeable future you should just find a way out.


#3

I’ve worked for people like that. You have to develop the confidence to own the fact that your work is good indepent of his opinion. Believe it or not, someone like that can help you grow.


#4

The only way you are going to solve this is by stepping your game up and doing a great job. Eventually you are going to move up and get his job. It may not be the exact same situation but when I work with people I don’t like, I make sure I do a way better job than them, I take credits for what I do and I take control. They will step away and let you do your thing and you now call the shots.

The other option is to look for another better paying job since you got some experience.


#5

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
I’ve worked for people like that. You have to develop the confidence to own the fact that your work is good indepent of his opinion. Believe it or not, someone like that can help you grow.[/quote]

I think that is good advice. It is tough, Ill admit. This guy has 40 years experience doing the exact same thing almost every day. So when he says something it wrong it is hard not to take it seriously or at least consider his opinion. What I have found to is a lot of people lie around the work place. I notice people tend to act like they know things they really don’t (and it is usually stupid stuff like factoids pertaining to our line of work) so there is always a slight level of mistrust amongst coworkers. Ive personally caught people lying more times than I expected. I dont see the big deal in admitting you didn’t know or understand something and asking questions to learn more about it.

Sometimes I feel like I am an alien or a foreigner experiencing culture shock. I guess I didnt expect adults to be so…childish?

EDIT:
I didnt see the second post. Maybe if this is just an insecurity it would be a good idea to bite the bullet and thank him. I have tried being polite to him before and have thanked him for his help. Maybe I need to do that more.


#6

Adults are way worse than children. They have had much longer to practice.


#7

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
You have two options in my opinion.

Subtly credit your creativity to your bosses guidance to him, or publically to feed his ego and get him off your back. What he wants is to feel responsible for success. Make a comment relating what you did to something he taught you even if it is vague, or a half truth.

Antagonize your boss until you either no longer work there or change projects or departments.

I don’t fully understand your position but if you are career minded sometimes sucking up your pride and letting your boss have what he wants can lead to better things later. If you are going to deal with this for the forseeable future you should just find a way out.[/quote]

That’s bad, do you really think this guy cares about what some youngster thinks about him and his work? He is just being tyrannical and he is taking the space, because he is the boss, because he can do it and because he thinks that’s where he is with his life. Animal behavior.

You need to continue doing exactly the way you did, and have them do meetings about you and your good work. Your boss isn’t going to fall, but you will get noticed and you will have an opportunity to earn more and move up.

It’s not about antagonizing. Don’t antagonize. Anyway that’s my view, I won’t dwell more on that.


#8

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
Maybe if this is just an insecurity it would be a good idea to bite the bullet and thank him. I have tried being polite to him before and have thanked him for his help. Maybe I need to do that more.[/quote]

It’s not about his insecurity but you should always be polite and thank people. That’s basic.


#9

Thanks for the help guys but I dont care what his motives are. I see him as an adult child like most people who live the cubicle life. I plan on getting out of this industry ASAP. Until that happens I need a way to deal with him without losing it. I am used to dealing with people who are a lot more blunt and situations that are a lot more serious and my usual response was to take control and resolve the issue myself. That worked when I was younger, but as an adult I see that you cant solve every problem by hammering the enemy into the ground, even though it is fun, and I am good at it. This is something that I am still struggling to get accustomed too… I think it is called “being professional” but I see it as “being a pussy”.

EDIT
I know it is not being a pussy, per se, but it is not in my nature to be so submissive. I’m really not a “go with the flow” kind of guy.


#10

Firstly, he probably thinks you’re just a big a dick as you think he is.

Secondly, treat everyone as your client. If someone comes us with a half arsed idea, you present the issues and risks and ask them if they want to accept them. If yes, what’s the big deal? There’s no need to tie your ego up so tightly with your idea. You’re not paying the bill for it after all.


#11

People with real strength of character possess the ability to not be led by emotions. If you can let insignificant shit like this affect you so much, you’re much weaker than I thought. Kicking someone’s ass is easy. Making him see things your way without having to kick ass is hard. Try arguing with a woman.

Btw, middle management guys are usually highly stressed and prone to micromanaging. Don’t take it personally.


#12

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Btw, middle management guys are usually highly stressed and prone to micromanaging. Don’t take it personally. [/quote]

Seriously.

The sooner you can both accept and identify this at nearly every workplace you’re at, the better off you’re gonna be.


#13

New
Job

NOW

Remember, job interviews cost nothing (except taking the time off of work of course)

I Had a shitsmear boss at my last job, with some of the same tendencies as your boss. I just simply “dealt” with it as long as I could. I also am not a “go with the flow” guy.

My boss now? He’s 3 yrs older than me and I damn near consider him a friend. I also do everything he tells me, and take all of his advice/direction. I respect him a lot.

I’ve only been at the two smaller companies, so its a little diferent than wht you have going on. Maybe you cpuld approach your bosses boss and see if there is another department or branch etc. you could go work in? I would mask your reason why, something like “Im looking to conitnue to grow and find new challenges” etc.


#14

[quote]chillain wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Btw, middle management guys are usually highly stressed and prone to micromanaging. Don’t take it personally. [/quote]

Seriously.

The sooner you can both accept and identify this at nearly every workplace you’re at, the better off you’re gonna be.
[/quote]

Agreed.


#15

Other side of the coin.

I am that boss, we have certain policies and procedures in place for a reason. When something goes to shit there’s a policy that needs to be followed as well a process, this insures that everything is done step by step.

An employee, who was subject to this policy decides to take it upon himself to conduct the investigation using a different process not detailed in our corporate policy. Even though his findings were accurate, it is not what we have documented in our corporate quality management system.

I told him he had to do it over, he gets mad and starts to argue about the process, and the policy.

Finally I had enough and basically broke it down as follows.

This is your job, part of your job responsibilities involves following company policy, you didn’t follow company policy. There fore in my opinion you didn’t do your job. You can waste more of my time arguing about it, or you can take your ass back to your office, and redo the report following the company policy and process. Don’t submit another damn thing until you have it completed following the process outlined in, (Gave him the corp document number).

This guy bitches about all of our internal processes, he is very smart/intelligent, but he gets down into the very minute details of everything and overlooks the big picture. He questions everything, no matter how elementary it is and is always looking to make changes that have no real impact, other then to suit his needs or likes.

A few hours later he comes back with the new correct report.

We discussed it and while his original report was correct, it didn’t follow our policy. He understands that now.

Yes, it may be considered micro managerial, at the end of the day, I am responsible for the output of my employees. If I don’t make them follow the policy, they won’t feel inclined to do so.


#16

Your job is to make your boss look good. Whether you like it or not, like him or not, that’s your job.

Have a frank conversation with him about how you are working together right now and what your perceptions are of his behavior toward you.

Use non-judgmental language and use his specific words and actions and describe how that affects you.

Tell him you want to understand his approach so that you have a clear understanding of his expectations for you and you can be successful for your department.

Express your desire to perform to the best of your ability, and ask him how you should approach future situations where your suggested method differs from his. Ultimately it is his call. If you do it your way against his wishes and it goes wrong, you are at fault and insubordinate; subject to disciplinary action in most cases.

Following this process will help you work it out. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Treat him like he’s not a complete A-hole, just someone who has a different opinion who you would like to learn from.

This is not being a pussy, it is being a professional. You will have to keep your calm and continue to work at it, giving the benefit of the doubt and working to further the conversation. Losing your shit is being a pussy because it shows you belong back in elementary school where yelling and fighting is the way to solve your issues.

Summary: Go, assume the best, seek to understand, help each other.


#17

[quote]bullpup wrote:
Other side of the coin.

I am that boss, we have certain policies and procedures in place for a reason. When something goes to shit there’s a policy that needs to be followed as well a process, this insures that everything is done step by step.

Yes, it may be considered micro managerial, at the end of the day, I am responsible for the output of my employees. If I don’t make them follow the policy, they won’t feel inclined to do so.

[/quote]

+1,000,000


#18

[quote]carbiduis wrote:
New
Job

NOW

Remember, job interviews cost nothing (except taking the time off of work of course)

I Had a shitsmear boss at my last job, with some of the same tendencies as your boss. I just simply “dealt” with it as long as I could. I also am not a “go with the flow” guy.

My boss now? He’s 3 yrs older than me and I damn near consider him a friend. I also do everything he tells me, and take all of his advice/direction. I respect him a lot.

I’ve only been at the two smaller companies, so its a little diferent than wht you have going on. Maybe you cpuld approach your bosses boss and see if there is another department or branch etc. you could go work in? I would mask your reason why, something like “Im looking to conitnue to grow and find new challenges” etc.[/quote]
Congrats man. I remember that you were unhappy with that place.


#19

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:

[quote]carbiduis wrote:
New
Job

NOW

Remember, job interviews cost nothing (except taking the time off of work of course)

I Had a shitsmear boss at my last job, with some of the same tendencies as your boss. I just simply “dealt” with it as long as I could. I also am not a “go with the flow” guy.

My boss now? He’s 3 yrs older than me and I damn near consider him a friend. I also do everything he tells me, and take all of his advice/direction. I respect him a lot.

I’ve only been at the two smaller companies, so its a little diferent than wht you have going on. Maybe you cpuld approach your bosses boss and see if there is another department or branch etc. you could go work in? I would mask your reason why, something like “Im looking to conitnue to grow and find new challenges” etc.[/quote]
Congrats man. I remember that you were unhappy with that place.[/quote]

Hey thanks, it’s good to see you back here. I now work at a dirty machine shop now, but the pay is there and the freedom and experience are incredible.


#20

I work for one of those micro-managers. I know him for a very long time, he’s bounced around the industry and is now back with us again. He’s quite the keyboard warrior, spends 90% of his day glued to his PC. I’m at the point where I can retire and take the pension and go. So I choose to challenge him right back when he challenges me. We got into it big last week, but we both held our cool. In the end, he backed down.

I’m used to working alone with very loose ties to who I report to. I probably have been doing that for a run of 8 years straight.

I tie him up with emails, which he’s compelled to respond to each one, I copy people higher up the food chain that I trust, so they know what’s going on. I know he checks his work emails when he’s on vacation, so at those times I ramp it up. If there’s a problem that we have to solve quickly, I can usually do it fast. But if there’s asinine politics involved, I may choose to drag it out and see how far I can take it, maybe throw another level of complexity into it. That’s only after I know that I can overall save the day at any time.

My advice, do the best work that you can. Gain the confidence of people at your peer level and above your boss. Find something that nobody likes to do, make it your bitch. This gives you leverage. Any given chance, you may want to make this guy look bad, but be subtle about it.