We’ve all heard of “nightmare bosses,” right? We’ve seen them in TV shows, movies, and other media, and we may even have experienced them ourselves in real life. While most TV and movie depictions are exaggerated, it’s not uncommon for people to have strong feelings about their supervisor or boss being unreasonable. The problem is what to do about those feelings?
Contrary to those same depictions in popular media, you can’t just walk up to your boss with a witty quip and storm out. That’s not how the real-world works. What, then, can you do? What action can you take if you feel you’re dealing with an unreasonable supervisor or boss?
What Do Employees Complain Most About Regarding Their Boss?
For background, let’s consider what employees are usually upset about when they have this kind of conflict with their supervisor. Below are some of the most common complaints people have about their boss:
- Being overlookedfor their accomplishments in the company and/or other people getting undue credit for things that were a team effort.
- Forgetting who employees are, either in their name or position, which is seen as a sign that their supervisor has no respect for them and what they’re doing.
- Being unapproachablecan cause problems when employees have questions and issues to discuss. If the supervisor is cold, unwelcoming, or impatient, that can be challenging.
- Not providing clear directionsfor tasks and projects, then disapproving of employees’ work when it doesn’t meet expectations.
- Disrespecting rulesthat supervisors also need to follow but don’t, then criticizing others for bending or breaking the same rules.
- Micromanagementis another common and frustrating phenomenon where bosses appear to nitpick and control you while trying to carry out your duties.
Of course, there are many more, all of which can be tricky to handle. In the next section, we’ll look at the best ways to deal with a difficult boss.
Strategies for Dealing with an Unreasonable Supervisor
Don’t Take It Personally
Some employees take unreasonable treatment and action from the boss as a personal affront, thinking they are being uniquely targeted. Some discrete sharing and discussions with colleagues could quickly disavow you of this idea. In most cases, the boss isn’t singling you out, nor is their “unreasonable” action without warrant or reason. The first step to dealing with it is first to acknowledge that this might not be just about you and take a step back.
Reflect More on the Situation
Next, you need to reflect on what’s happening and think about it before acting. Is there perhaps some reason the boss might be more “unreasonable” to you than others? Have you often been late for work? Have you messed up on multiple occasions during important projects? Are you lagging behind your colleagues in terms of your progress and professional development?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it could be that your boss is riding you harder, pushing you more, and possibly micromanaging based on these events. If you want things to change, you must work hard to restore their faith in you. Don’t forget that strict and demanding bosses are very often only that way because they are trying to push you to achieve more.
Stay Ahead of the Game
In the case of micromanagement, or a constant barrage of requests and demands, it’s important to try and see patterns in what they’re asking. If you can do this, you can start to anticipate when and where they will approach you to ask you for things, and you can get things ready in advance. It might not be enough to stop micromanagement entirely, but it will feel less like they are interfering.
Discuss Grievances with Colleagues
If you honestly feel your supervisor is being too difficult, then find a time in private to discuss your concerns with your co-workers. See if they have noticed the same things or feel the same way. It could be that one of them sheds new light onto the situation that changes your mind about them completely. Alternatively, you might find that everyone in your team feels the same. This warrants you to the next steps.
If you feel your supervisor’s demanding nature or behavior is unreasonable, gather your thoughts and those of your colleagues, and reach out to the APC stewards on your campus.
APC is here to protect your rights. By speaking with your stewards, they can help facilitate your issues with the union to see what the next appropriate steps are.25