Working with a Difficult Boss
By: Beth McHugh 2009
While some people are lucky enough to be self-employed and be their own boss, most of us have to tolerate the emotional roller-coaster of the boss’ moods. This can take a toll on our personal happiness, even our mental health. Today, we will look at one particular example of the “power-mad boss”.
One of the worse examples of the power-mad boss is the employee who is promoted up through the ranks and ends up being the manager of the people he or she once worked alongside.
Take the case of Vicky. Vicky worked for seven years as a housecleaner with a large corporation which specialized in home cleaning and personal services for the elderly and disabled. After one of the administrative staff left, Vicky was promoted out of the ranks of the floor-scrubbers and toilet-cleaners and thrust into the seemingly powerful position of “administrative officer”.
Her first order of agenda at her inaugural office meeting was to announce to the workers, her previous peers just one week earlier, that “I am not your friend. I am your boss. Remember that”
Naturally this alienated her previous colleagues and she was shunned by them as this attitude persisted. Vicky was genuinely dumbfounded when she was not invited to the girls’ night out for Christmas, indicating that Vicky herself was only partly aware that her behavior was inappropriate.
Rachel is another similar example. A copy writer for a magazine, she was elevated to junior editor and at once set off a volley of querulous memos to her new staff – her former colleagues. Again, the so-called “power” of being a junior editor had gone to Rachel’s head and she thought she was somehow better than her peers of a week earlier. The sheer number of her self-important memos to staff earned her the name “Geobbels: The Queen of Propaganda” with her under-colleagues.
Although it is difficult to work with people such as this whose flimsy egos are bolstered by their new work titles, it is important to realize that these people are not emotionally mature. Although they can make your work life hell, they are not highly functioning people.
The qualities of a good boss are excellent communication skills without judgment or prejudice. A competent boss feels no need to exert power -- instead they command it because of the humane and competent way in which they interact with their staff.
They are wise enough to know that people are individuals and treat them as such, and therefore they get the best out of their staff, unlike Vicky and Rachel where staff moral actually drops. Emotionally immature bosses actually lower production, reduce profit and increase the rate of accidents in the workplace. They are a menace to productively and stability.
And that is just in the workplace. Their personal lives are wracked with the same feelings of need to control, hence those with whom they live suffer a difficult family life.
If you find yourself working for one of these power-mad bosses and do not have the immediate choice of leaving your employment, remember that happy people do not need to behave as bullies in the workplace. These people are certainly not happy because they are grossly insecure, unsure of themselves and they take that insecurity and incompetence out on you. While this may not stop the problem of actually having to interact with these people on a daily basis, at least you can take comfort in the knowledge that, despite their façade, they are truly unhappy people with a deep sense of unworthiness.
In effect, they are to be pitied.