By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer
Disharmony in the workplace can be an incredibly disruptive force in both your professional and personal lives. As with all progenitors of stress, letting it fester is doing no one any favours. While disputes with co-workers or subordinates can usually be meted out cordially with a modicum of professional decorum, resolving similar issues with your boss can be a daunting task (especially if your boss is not a reasonable or approachable person - and trust me, we've all had at least one). If your problems with your superior are severe enough to consider action, here are some tips on how to best deal with the matter:
Clearly identify and document the problem
Before you can even think of addressing the issue with anyone at work, you must have a very clear idea of what the problem actually is. Simply saying that your boss is a jerk is not a good enough platform on which to take any action. You need to be specific about the types of behaviours that are conflicting with you and to document concrete examples. For example, if your boss repeatedly accuses you of failing to respond to client emails, keep a record of every client email that you receive and respond to. Whether you intend to take any corrective measures, having documented them is vital.
Be honest with yourself
With all human interaction, you need to be entirely aware of your role and behaviour. It is no different within the workplace. As with any contentious relationship, you need to be open to the possibility that you are partly responsible for the treatment that you receive from others. If you find that your boss is making you crazy by constantly chasing you down for deliverables, you need to ask yourself if you have given your boss reason to be concerned that your work will not be delivered on time. Looking honestly within can give you some of the answers that you may need before taking any further action.
Always remain professional
Maybe your boss is condescending, overly critical or maybe even downright abusive. Whatever the case, always retain your professional demeanour. If you are experiencing these types of issues with your boss, it is unlikely that you are alone and it is quite probable that others are watching. Always keep your composure and resist the strong urge to respond in kind. This will certainly be in your favour if and when the situation needs to be resolved.
Occupy yourself with things that you can control
Be sure that your professional affairs are in order. I would recommend that you routinely go over your performance objectives to ensure that you are meeting the standards expected of you. If there is any ambiguity in your objectives, be sure to raise this with your boss. You will want to make sure that your performance matrices are objective; having subjective standards can make it easy for your boss to give you a poor review. In the workplace, your reputation is critical to your progress so be sure to reduce the possibility of allowing your boss to highlight your errors or mistakes.
Talk to your boss
While this often seems like the correct first step, it can lead to greater problems and even more conflict and anxiety. Only approach your boss if you feel that they will be receptive to your position and if you feel that a positive outcome is likely. If your boss is dismissive, irrational or disrespectful towards you most of the time, it is unlikely that this will magically change when confronted. Use a great deal of caution if approaching your boss directly.
Talk to your boss's boss
As a last resort, you can try talking to your boss's superior. However, in many cases the reality is that your boss's superior is responsible for your boss's promotion and may see your complaints as a criticism. You may also be branded as a troublemaker or someone who complains, potentially tarnishing your reputation.
So what can you do?
As already mentioned, be excellent at what you do. No one will be able to denigrate you if you are indispensible to the department. If you are able to, allow your boss's behaviour to roll off your back.
If you are able to establish meaningful professional relationships outside of your immediate boss, this allows for potential growth within the organisation and away from this meddlesome individual.
As a last resort, begin the search for something new. Prepare your resume and start to widen your professional network. With some good fortune, your situation will improve and you can continue working in a harmonious environment.
If not, you will be well prepared for the next challenge in your professional evolution.