If you are anything like me, you have probably had more than one job in your lifetime. AND, if you have had more than one job it probably means that you have had more than one BOSS. ARRGHH! Boss – a four letter word! I will write more posts on bosses in the future, but today I will divide bosses into two basic categories: micro managers and macro managers. Both can be infuriating, both can be hard to deal with, but for different reasons.
Micro managers are the types of leaders that want control of everything – EVERYTHING. They will scream, yell, threaten, or do anything that they need to do in order to control you just the way they want to. I have heard of micro managers yelling at employees for the type of clothing they wear, their tone of voice, even too much eye shadow. I once knew a woman who pressured her teachers for not putting enough smiley faces on papers while grading them! I personally cannot stand working for micro-managers, because I like independence and trust in the workplace.
It can be very challenging to work under a boss who is a micro manager. I recommend that individuals working for micro managers take a few steps:
- Decide what you can and cannot live with at work.
- Decide whether you are willing to risk your job in order to improve what you cannot live with (this is critical and is may prevent your confronting your boss.
- Approach your boss about the things that make you feel uncomfortable – use “I statements” – i.e: “I feel ______ when you _______ because __________ and I need ________________.” It is harder for a boss to scream at you when you mention your own feelings, rather than a general attack.
- Set firm boundaries, “I understand you want ________, but I need you to know that I am not willing to do __________.
- Be willing to walk away – if your physical or emotional health is suffering due to your boss, you may need to walk away. In this day and age and our current economy, this is anything but easy.
- If necessary, seek professional help. Sometimes a therapist can assist you in working through terrible workplace situations.
Macro managers are the types of leaders that look at the larger picture, instead of the small details. Macro managers can be great to work for, as you generally do not see them as much. This can sometimes bring more pressure than micro managers, as you are entrusted with more duties and responsibilities and that can be anxiety inducing. While I do prefer to work for macro managers, and am a macro manager myself, I must admit that I can get rather irritated when a boss is such a macro manager that they lose touch with day to day reality of the workplace. This is always the challenge I face as a leader myself. I find I need to be more involved and I get frustrated with my own supervisors if they have checked their interest and effort at the door.
What can you do to improve a working relationship with a macro managing boss?
- Speak to your boss about wanting them to be more involved.
- Ask them for feedback.
- Share the little details so their interest can be sparked.
- Don’t be afraid to ask multiple times if you do not receive a response.
Ultimately, a boss can make or break a workplace. In many ways the relationship is a bit like a marriage and you want to work hard to make the relationship work so that you are able to feel comfortable in your place of employment. IF your boss is being verbally or physically abusive (this includes sexual harassment) you need to GET HELP IMMEDIATELY. Your employer does not have the right to harm you just because they sign your paycheck. In fact, the nature of their position as your boss necessitates that they treat you with the utmost of respect.
If you are struggling with your boss, make sure you are taking active steps to find resolution. Many of your waking hours are at work, and it is critical that these hours are fulfilling and pleasant.
I am thankful that I am my own boss – I hope my employees feel the same way. I am by no means perfect, but I do try to support them whenever I can and I want to assist them so that they can achieve their own goals within the workplace. I became a leader not because I wanted the power or even because I wanted to lead – I had just worked for one too many grumpy micro managers and I wanted to be able to set a healthier, more supportive tone in the work environment.
With respect to the parody of the Snow White song, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!”