Use Facts to Deal with an Unreasonable Boss

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"Although there are many different kinds of bosses, bad boss behavior usually stems from the supervisor throwing his or her power around," says William Krug, head of the Department of Organizational Leadership and Supervision at Purdue Univesity's College of Technology. "Some even take a certain delight in being difficult."

Krug says the first step in dealing with a bad boss is to determine what kind of boss you have. He describes four types: controllers, who are demanding and insist that things be done their way; analyzers, who want much information but have trouble making decisions; promoters, who are enthusiastic, dislike detail and like to make quick decisions but often lack follow-up; and supporters, who are seen as "nice" but can be taken advantage of.

Using such descriptions can help you determine how to deal with an out-of-control supervisor, Krug says. For instance, employees should provide "analyzer" bosses with adequate facts about a situation. However, providing the same amount of detail to a "promoter" boss can make tensions worse.

While each type has both good and bad points, Krug recommends three general strategies to use when dealing with an difficult boss:

  • Make sure you are accurate
  • Always document. "Presenting facts is a great way to circumvent the emotional thought process that often goes on between boss and employee," says Krug. "Documentation has been made easier with e-mail because it gives you a clear trail of happened, when it happened and what action was taken."
  • Allow your boss to be the decision maker. "If you say, 'The only thing we can do is this,' that can make a boss angrier," Krug says. "But if you can offer a few options, that can help diffuse the situation."
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