Two weeks ago we did a post on losing a great boss. We were touched by some of the stories we heard from you in response. It’s clear that it’s an incredible gift to have the opportunity to work with a great boss.

Some of the ways you described their impact included increasing your self-esteem, changing your understanding of your skills, growing you in unprecedented ways, helping you overcome fear, opening doors, etc.

Great bosses can change lives.

In addition to the stories we heard about the impact of great bosses, we also got a powerful email from “Mike” who asked, “Yeah, but what about when you have a boss who is batsh!t crazy? What do you do then?”

His comment highlighted an experience that a number of you shared. Many of you said something along the lines of: “I’d love a great boss but I am suffering under a really challenging one.”
So what can you do when you have a boss who is batsh!t crazy?

  • Start by exploring if you can lead into a different kind of relationship with your boss. Set a goal for the relationship and then, whenever you are going to meet with your boss:
    • Pause and ask yourself “Is what I am about to say or do in alignment with my goal?”
    • Then consider, “What am I afraid of in this situation and how would I show up if I felt safe?”
    • Then ask yourself, “What is my boss afraid of in this situation and how can I help my boss feel safe?”
    • Now, Act with POWER . . . coming in with a sense of possibility, owning the success of the effort and sharing why it’s important to you, creating we-focused goals with your boss, discussing how you can enable action and then reviewing and refining the plan to move forward. 
    • We know you may think to yourself “this will not work!!!!” but exploring it thoughtfully gives you the opportunity to consider how to increase the chances of being able to influence your boss. 
If you have determined your boss is not influenceable then you have a couple of options.
  • Consider how you can avoid, or at least decrease regular contact with your boss while partnering with others to get the work done in ways that create success for the organization and a sense of pride in your life. 
    • It is important that you do NOT badmouth your boss to others in the organization. When you describe to others what you want to achieve, it’s important that you frame your goals in terms of organizational goals. If your boss is, in fact, batsh!t crazy, others know that and don’t need to hear it again. Besides, you don’t want to be seen as someone who complains vs. someone who brings solutions.
  • Explore other opportunities within the organization and outside the organization. 
    • Sometimes your only option is to leave and yet leaving is not always something you can do immediately. So, begin by getting as much distance as you can from the crazy behavior and then start your search for a new position while you maintain your current one. Get your resume up to date and set up networking meetings where you can let people know you’re ready for a new opportunity.

We know that some people would recommend you go to your boss’ boss. In some instances, that is an option, but it is rarely successful. If you do choose to go to your boss’ boss, you have to be careful not to be seen as the problem . . . the person who can’t get along with others.

Your boss’ boss is likely aware of the erratic behaviors of your boss, and for whatever reason they’ve decided not to take action, or they would have already!
The tricky part of being a human is that all humans . . . ALL OF THEM . . . are messy and can act out of fear or a personal agenda, so you need to be intentional about your behavior. If you spend your time focusing on creating benefit for the organization, rather than complaining about your boss, you’ll have much greater success.
That said, you need a place to share your frustration, fear, and concern, so make sure you have a friend, colleague, or coach who can help you navigate this challenge in a way that is good for you.
Take good care of yourself!

– Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting 

Are you dealing with an exceptionally difficult boss? Contact us today. We can help you navigate this tough situation.