Is your boss trying to sabotage your career . . . and what you can do about it! (Part 2 of 4)
In part 1 of this series I shared just a couple of examples of what it is like to work for what we referred to as a toxic boss.
There is of course a price you will likely have to pay for having to deal with a bully and/or narcissistic leader. The focus of this post which is the 2nd in a 4-part series is to highlight the personality types of difficult bosses, and what you can do to manage through a bad situation.
However, and before we get into specific personality profiles, there are two critical rules to both remember and follow.
SET A TIME-FRAME AND CREATE YOUR CONTINGENCY PLAY:
If you have a truly bad boss, don’t wait for them to ruin your career before moving on. When considering the length of time that you should stick it out with a toxic boss, keep in mind that the longer you stay in an unhealthy situation, the worse it is likely to become. Once you read the handwriting on the wall, force yourself to be proactive and prepare your resume. You will feel better about yourself if you have a contingency plan. Even if your boss is a great person outside of work, it is how they treat you during the day that reflects the true nature of your relationship.
STAY UNDER THE RADAR SCREEN WHILE YOU ARE IN THE “WAITING ROOM”
While you are in the “waiting room”, until you make up your mind about leaving, limit your exposure to your toxic boss as you consider the price you are paying. Whenever possible, stay under the radar screen to avoid being ridiculed or criticized publicly. Be aware that dysfunctional bosses become confidence robbers if you overstay your welcome and allow their negative feedback to define you. (I speak from experience when I make this suggestion.) This will cost you in credibility with peers and your stakeholders.
FOR THE REASONABLE TOXIC BOSS (who lacks the sensitivity gene):
Create a safe time to speak, when they’re in a good or better (i.e. receptive) mood. Keep a calendar of when they have better times as opposed to moody times. Using diplomacy, ask if you can discuss a situation with them. Avoid using “problem” as defenses go up naturally. Refer to a past incident that you’ve noticed has happened a few times since. Find a way of saying that “I know you aren’t trying to sabotage me but it just feels that way. It makes me feel that I’m really dumb.”
Obviously working together to resolve the differences to get what you both want is optimal with the reasonable toxic boss.
FOR THE TOXIC BOSS (who repetitively steals your thunder):
There is another personality profile that warrants special attention, which is the Toxic Boss Who Steals Your Ideas and just loves the attention.
In Part 3 of the series I will delve into this area of the boss – employee relationship, and provide you with the tools to effectively deal with someone who poaches your ideas while leaving you to toil in the shadows of anonymity.
FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH BOSS:
Get yourself out there, not complaining but selling yourself to another department.
When your buttons are being pushed, score your need to bite back from one to five. One to two means totally ignore them. Three – walk away, while either a 4 or a 5 means that you must take action. If your character, credibility or performance are being sabotaged, you must decide that it’s time to go to HR or leave. Any of these circumstances fall into a 4 or 5. If you can laugh it off, then bite your tongue and ride it out until you find another position. Again, always ask yourself what’s the price you will pay in the long run.
Above all, and in situations involving the impossible to reach boss, I like to recall the words of Mark Twain who once said . . . “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
Of course it would also be wise to remember the words of George Washington Carver who said “Let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.”
Whatever axiom you may choose to embrace. the key point is to remember not to wait until your reputation is destroyed and you have no choice but to leave. Where you can, always leave with dignity and keep in touch with colleagues.