Wouldn’t it be nice if a job search was more like online shopping?
You have a general idea in mind of what you want, so you log on to “Jobmazon.com” and browse the management personalities available in the job category you’re interested in. You get a photo, a description, and various reviews. With so many options, the boss you receive is totally up to you.
Narcissistic Nick – Nick will be completely absorbed with his own goals and success. He will take all praise and reflect all blame on you. If you hint at a fault, he will respond in anger. When the higher ups are present, he will direct all attention to himself and make you out to be nothing but a bothersome necessity. He has only one career goal: “My success above yours”.
Demanding Deb – Deb has a square head on her shoulders and knows what needs to be done to complete a job, but she will never be satisfied with your output. It won’t matter how many hours you pour into her project or how high the quality of your results, it will not be enough for her. She will demand more and more.
Indecisive Ian – Ian is constantly second guessing every move. He’ll get you started on a project only to change his mind when you’re half finished. If you present him with a problem and request guidance for solving it, he will talk through every option twice.
Stonewall Jackson – Jack is mostly a great boss, helpful and considerate, but any time he becomes overwhelmed or frustrated, he will go silent. He will refuse to answer his phone, reply to texts, or even acknowledge that you are talking to him. He enters the dark abyss of noncommunication.
Human Hannah – Hannah is a motivated individual, understanding what’s required for the success of the company. She tries her very best, but is also quick to take responsibility when she makes mistakes. She understands that those above her and beneath her are human, just as she is, and treats them with respect and understanding.
With choices like these, you’re bound to find the perfect job with the type of boss you work best with. Unfortunately, that never happens and often we find ourselves under a difficult personality, leaving us frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry. What then?
Here are three suggestions that may help you not only cope, but succeed under difficult people.
1. Find their strengths. It may seem that some people have only negative traits, but if you really look close, you can typically find something about them that has a positive effect on the success of the company.
Nick may be self-absorbed, but while he’s feeding his ego, he’s also pushing the company into greater success. Deb may be a pain in the butt to work for, but her team gets things done. Her team gets noticed. Ian may be indecisive, but he does think a plan through before implementing it. Jack may become silent from time to time, but when he is not overwhelmed, he is great to work for.
2. Use their positive trait to your career advantage. Play their game, so to speak. There is a bit of healthy strategy that must take place for success to become reality. It is a strategic use of circumstances though and not a maniacal manipulation of people.
Help Nick succeed and let his success pull you up to higher success of your own. When the time is right, you will get your chance to ensure the CEOs see the worth of your efforts. Make yourself an invaluable asset to Deb’s projects. Be the most valuable player on the most valuable team. Present ideas and solutions to Ian in a way that makes him feel as if he confidently chose it himself. This relieves stress for him and makes you a trusted advisor. Find ways to take some of the weight off Jack’s shoulders. When you sense he is reaching the frustrated state, step in and take lead on some of the minor issues.
3. Take a look in the mirror. While some bosses truly have difficult personalities, others may simply be reacting to your difficult personality trait. Are there attitudes or quirks that make them feel you disrespect them or do not have the company’s success in mind? If there are things you need to change, be humble enough to change them.
With a little bit of thought and healthy strategic thinking, you can turn a difficult management issue into a stepping stone to personal and professional success.