With 3 out of 4 people reporting that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job and research finding that people who believe their bosses to be difficult are more likely to have a heart disease event, like a heart attack or cardiac arrest, we can’t afford to ignore this issue.
Years ago, I worked at an organization when a new supervisor was hired. I had been without a supervisor for quite some time and was doing well. Mostly because I had been in the position for a while. Soon after my supervisor started, she began implementing changes without fully understanding the effects it would have on the program.
I was unhappy, to say the least, and this dissatisfaction increased greatly when she began to micromanage me. I started feeling like I didn’t want to go to work in the morning and began living for the weekend. I knew I had to address my frustrations at this point, and fearfully did so. She apologized for the micromanagement and expressed that she only wanted to excel in her position. Now I won’t say that we became best friends after this, but there was no more micromanagement. And I felt stronger, having pushed aside my fears to have that difficult conversation.
By the way, research also shows that the association between the employees perception of difficult bosses and the risk of serious heart problems increased the longer an employee worked for the same company. So it’s extremely important that these issues are addressed as soon as possible.
There are a few steps that you can take now to work on your relationship with a difficult boss.
Clarify the issue
Sometimes we feel we just can’t stand someone, but that overall feeling of not liking them or finding them difficult won’t help you resolve the problem. So take some time to write out exactly what it is that your supervisor does that you feel makes it difficult to work with them. This process may also provide you with some insight.
Assess you behavior and actions. It may also be helpful to talk with someone you’re close to, who doesn’t work at your company. Ask them to provide feedback on your actions and whether there could be another perspective.
Brainstorm action steps
Thoroughly assess your options. Determine whether you want and believe it would be helpful for you to have a conversation with your supervisor. If you decide to do this, think about the best day and time to have this conversation. Be sure to objectively state the issue and offer solutions. Get support in developing a plan, if you need it. I believe having these difficult conversations is a part of professional development.
It’s also important to document everything and save emails that you can reference, if need be.
Sometimes, changing your response to your boss’s behavior can be an important action step. The reality is that we can’t change people. We can have conversations with them about the impact of what they do or say to us, but it’s up to them to make any changes. What we do have, is the ability to change our reaction to their behavior.
If you’ve had conversations with your boss about their behavior and they still haven’t made any changes, then you may want to consider bringing in another leader to be a third party. This can help to bridge the divide and solve the problem.
Because having difficult bosses can have such devastating effects on our health, it’s important to take steps to resolve these issues at work. You can’t afford to ignore it any longer. If you’re working with a difficult boss, I hope that you take these steps to work on the relationship and you can join the 1 out of 4 people who report that their boss isn’t the worst and most stressful part of their job.