OfficeTeam Provides Tips for 'Managing' Challenging Supervisors

MENLO PARK, CA -- Few employees may report to bosses as cold-hearted as those sometimes portrayed in the movies, but most will encounter less-than-perfect supervisors at some point in their careers. While professionals cannot control their managers’ behavior, they can change how they react to it, notes career expert Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals.

“Employees who attempt to understand the motivations behind their bosses’ behavior are better equipped to defuse tension rather than add to it,” said Domeyer.

While nobody welcomes the idea of working for someone with a reputation for being difficult, Domeyer points out that building a good relationship with a demanding boss can be a major career booster. “Companies take notice of employees who can establish rapport with managers who are hard to please. Doing so is a testament to the professional’s dedication and interpersonal skills.”

Following are three common types of challenging supervisors and tips for working with them:

The box of chocolates – As with selecting a bonbon from an assortment, you never know what you’re going to get with this boss. The manager may pal around with you one day and turn a cold shoulder the next. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to his or her moods.

Your coping strategy: Understand that your supervisor’s disposition has little to do with you, so try not to take things personally. Remain calm and composed when interacting with this type of boss; you’ll be the steady presence he or she may need. When this manager is on edge, try to limit communication to e-mail unless a matter is urgent. Do everything in your power to ease this person’s stress level, which is likely the driving factor behind his or her mood swings.

The bully – This boss has a consistent disposition: overbearing. The manager wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all; tends to be gruff with others; and is easily frustrated.

Your coping strategy: Deal with this person the same way you would a schoolyard bully: Stand up for yourself. When an idea is dismissed, calmly explain your rationale. If accused of a mistake you didn’t make, keep your composure and describe what happened. Often, this type of boss will relent when presented with a voice of reason. In fact, this person may do a complete turnaround once he or she is convinced you’re up to the challenge of working together. If your relationship doesn’t improve and your manager continues to bully you, however, it may be time to look for a new job.

The micro-manager – This person wants to know every detail of every project -- and be involved in all decisions. He or she also has trouble delegating and may not give you very challenging assignments.

Your coping strategy: The first step is to look inward. Have you done something to undermine your manager’s confidence? When supervisors behave this way, it’s often because they don’t believe employees will do the job accurately. Because trust is usually the issue, try to do everything in your power to build it. This includes being detail-oriented and keeping your manager apprised of all the steps you’ve taken to ensure quality work. The more confident your manager is in your abilities, the less controlling that person is likely to be.

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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