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Staying efficient when working with an irrational boss

Published: Tuesday 3rd September 2019

People don’t leave companies, the saying goes – they leave managers. One of the most commonly discussed reasons for workers being unhappy at work is bad management and poor leadership. Having an irrational boss can certainly turn even a good working environment into an unhappy, stressful one. So, staying efficient whilst working for someone who’s unreasonable and unpredictable is certainly not easy. And for those who do, anxiety and feelings of dread most likely accompany their morning coffee at work each day…

female executive meditating taking break at work for mental balance

Dealing with an irrational boss 

Being part of a negative workplace environment is not healthy or sustainable for the business itself nor its employees. A common question raised in such cases is: “how can I be successful when people around me are irrational?” But hold fire before you turn to hand in your letter of resignation, here is the good news. You can still be a great leader and colleague for those around you; you can even flourish in your career! The bad news is, you most likely will have to work a bit harder to achieve this. If you want to know how to stay efficient and improve your work environment when working with an irrational boss, below are some essential top tips…

Rethink your viewpoint

Being the boss is not always easy. Sometimes employees jump on the “management is inefficient” line too quickly, when in fact the leaders above us aren’t really that bad at all. It’s easy for someone who is on the outside and doesn’t have a clear picture of the reasons behind each decision, to label management initiatives negatively. In addition, sometimes it might even be simply a matter of leaders failing to communicate their decisions effectively. Therefore, before jumping to any conclusions as an employee, it is always important to be conscious of the fact that you might also have contributed to the problem by not getting all the information needed in the first place.

Business person running away from big hand while asking for help concept on background

Make it about you, not your boss

Regardless of your boss’s competency level, you have to work together to get the job done, and eventually advance your career. So, in order to manage your boss in the best way possible, you have to start framing specific requests and interactions around your needs. Saying something like: “I want to be efficient and achieve my goals, but I need your help to do that”, will help your boss realise you are committed and constantly seek ways to openly communicate in order to increase productivity. Be specific about what you want. Ask for their input on your work, their permission to reach out to a client and if they still are unable to help, suggest alternatives, like asking one of their peers or superiors. Sometimes you have to remember, you just might have to help your boss first, in order to get some help back.

Communicate as much as possible

Communication is the single way to help avoid misunderstandings. It is therefore essential that you create a paper trail for yourself to evidence all that you have done, demonstrating your flexibility and highlighting your strengths. This will document your talent, and also provide evidence that your impact has been nothing but positive. As part of this communication, always make sure you’re telling your boss what you’re doing. Accounting for approval on tasks will prevent you from further misunderstandings as well as help you find some common ground.

Business Communication Connection Working Concept

Stay calm and inspire change

Inspiring change, being adaptable and demonstrating flexibility might help those around you be more effective too. Don’t wait for someone else to change. Be the change you want to see in your workplace first. Contributing positively to the overall workplace culture by inspiring change, you become more valuable to the people above you and around you. In fact, you help the organisation get better by ensuring you support management decisions with a positive outlook whilst making sure collaboration and two-way communication is fostered.

Wooden cube flip with word "change" to "chance" on wood table

Regardless of the management efficiency one thing is certain; you can still stay efficient and thrive under an irrational boss by being professional and demonstrating a flexible attitude based on a two-way communication process. However, if all else fails and that still isn’t your cup of tea, you can always rethink your current position and look for other companies to work for on Zoek.

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