Toxic Boss? How Successful People Overcome Them

 Toxic Boss

Bad bosses contaminate the workplace. Some do so obliviously, while others smugly manipulate their employees, using them as instruments of their own success.

Regardless of their methods, bad bosses cause irrevocable damage to their companies and employees by hindering performance and creating unnecessary stress.

The stress your boss causes is bad for your health. Multiple studies have found that working for a bad boss increases your chance of having a heart attack by as much as 50%.

Even more troubling is the number of bad bosses out there. Gallup research found that 60% of government workers are miserable because of bad bosses. In another study 69% of U.S. workers compared bosses with too much power to toddlers with too much power.

The comparisons don’t stop there. Significant percentages of U.S. workers describe their bosses as follows:

  • Self-oriented (60%)
  • Stubborn (49%)
  • Overly demanding (43%)
  • Impulsive (41%)
  • Interruptive (39%)

Most bosses aren’t surprised by these statistics. A DDI study found that 64% of managers admit that they need to work on their management skills. When asked where they should focus their efforts, managers overwhelmingly say, “Bringing in the numbers”; yet, they are most often fired for poor people skills.

TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people—even those they report to. This is no easy task. It requires a great deal of emotional intelligence, a skill that top performers rely on.

While the best option when you have a bad boss is to seek other employment, this isn’t always possible.

Successful people know how to make the most of a bad situation. A bad boss doesn’t deter them because they understand that success is simply the product of how well you can play the hand you’ve been dealt. When that “hand” is a bad boss, successful people identify the type of bad boss they are working for and then use this information to neutralize their boss’ behavior.

What follows are seven of the most common types of bad bosses and the strategies that successful people employ to work effectively with them.

Toxic Boss_1

The Robot

In the mind of the robot, you are employee number 72 with a production yield of 84% and experience level 91. This boss makes decisions based on the numbers, and when he’s forced to reach a conclusion without the proper data, he self-destructs. He makes little or no effort to connect with his employees, and instead, looks solely to the numbers to decide who is invaluable and who needs to go.

How to neutralize a robot: To succeed with a robot, you need to speak his language. When you have an idea, make certain you have the data to back it up. The same goes with your performance—you need to know what he values and be able to show it to him if you want to prove your worth. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can begin trying to nudge him out of his antisocial comfort zone. The trick is to find ways to connect with him directly, without being pushy or rude. Schedule face-to-face meetings and respond to some of his e-mails by knocking on his door. Forcing him to connect with you as a person, however so slightly, will make you more than a list of numbers and put a face to your name. Just because he’s all about the numbers, it doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself the exception. Do so in small doses, however, because he’s unlikely to respond well to the overbearing social type.

The Visionary

Her strength lies in her ideas and innovations. However, this entrepreneurial approach becomes dangerous when a plan or solution needs to be implemented, and she can’t bring herself to focus on the task at hand. When the time comes to execute her vision, she’s already off onto the next idea, and you’re left to figure things out on your own.

How to neutralize a visionary: To best deal with this type, reverse her train of thought. She naturally takes a broad perspective, so be quick to funnel things down into something smaller and more practical. To do so, ask a lot of specific questions that force her to rationally approach the issue and to consider potential obstacles to executing her broad ideas. Don’t refute her ideas directly, or she will feel criticized; instead, focus her attention on what it will take to realistically implement her plan. Oftentimes, your questions will diffuse her plan, and when they don’t, they’ll get her to understand—and commit to—the effort it’s going to take on her part to help make it happen.

The Seagull

We’ve all been there—sitting in the shadow of a seagull manager who decided it was time to roll up his sleeves, swoop in and squawk up a storm. Instead of taking the time to get the facts straight and work alongside the team to realize a viable solution, the seagull deposits steaming piles of formulaic advice and then abruptly takes off, leaving everyone else behind to clean up the mess. Seagulls interact with their employees only when there’s a fire to put out. Even then, they move in and out so hastily—and put so little thought into their approach—that they make bad situations worse by frustrating and alienating those who need them the most.

How to neutralize a seagull: A group approach works best with seagulls. If you can get the entire team to sit down with him and explain that his abrupt approach to solving problems makes it extremely difficult for everyone to perform at their best, this message is likely to be heard. If the entire group bands together and provides constructive, non-threatening feedback, the seagull will more often than not find a better way to work with his team. It’s easy to spot a seagull when you’re on the receiving end of their airborne dumps, but the manager doing the squawking is often unaware of the negative impact of his behavior. Have the group give him a little nudge, and things are bound to change for the better.

negative impact

If you think these strategies might help others, please share this article with your network. Research suggests that roughly half of them are currently working for a bad boss!

source: Travis Blackberry

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