It can happen to anyone. there's a change in the organization and -- suddenly -- you find yourself working for the boss from Hell. Arrogant, demanding, ignorant, bullying and insensitive. Do you leave right away? Do you fight back? Here are some tried and tested ways of coping with impossible bosses -- and coming out on top.
1. Find ways to boost your confidence
This is the single most important indicator of success. Asshole bosses typically work to undermine your self-confidence the whole time. Don't allow this to happen. Recite your strengths back to yourself. Keep notes of accomplishments. Celebrate every success.
2. Don't collude
Start looking for the subtle ways you hold yourself back by colluding with the asshole boss. When you find them, stop them at once. It's too easy to accept the negatives and try to avoid pain by selling yourself short. Don't do it -- EVER.
3. Establish a "territory" and control entry
Make sure you show your job is important. The establishment of a "territory", part physical, part psychological shows others that you see your job as important. Treat it that way yourself and make sure others do so as well. The aim is to make others take you seriously as someone who does something important -- even vital -- to the future of the organization and it's business.
4. Be your own advocate
Don't explain your ideas to your asshole boss and let him take them to the people who matter. You can be sure he'll imply he thought them up himself and will take all the credit. Make sure you present your own ideas. Try informal meetings at first -- invite a few people (plus your boss) to "help you" with something you're trying to sort out. Make use of opportunities of formal meetings as well. Don't try to undermine or obviously bypass your boss. Just come out with the bones of the idea and make sure people know it's yours. If he tries to stop you, say you were getting feedback before bringing the completed idea to him. You know how busy he is and don't want to waste his time with something that may turn out to be impractical.
5. Use informality to let people see your ability
Use informal meetings -- say after work, where people just chat -- to talk casually about your ideas and what you've achieved. If they exist, make a point of going. If they don't, start some. be seen as the person around whom the talk circulates. That way people will recognize you as an important person.
6. Develop your staff
Work as hard as you can at developing your own staff. Be everything to them your boss isn't to you. Nothing gets people noticed faster than capable, loyal staff who tell everyone what a great boss they have. If the people below you are headed upwards fast -- and they're loyal to you -- they'll push you up ahead of them.
7. Spread the word subtly
Copy the right people in on your messages, but do it subtly. Don't copy everything to everyone. That will make you look pushy. Just ask yourself who else (other than your boss) has a legitimate interest -- who else could find what you're saying genuinely helpful -- and add them to the cc'd list.
8. Create a portfolio of your best work
Use it to remind yourself of your worth and boost your self-confidence. It will also be extremely handy if you need to think about getting another job that fits your abilities better (and another boss who isn't an asshole) and need to revise your CV/resume.
9. Document, document!
Keep your files and paperwork meticulous. Document everything important. If your asshole boss tries to blame you for his mistakes, make sure you have documentary proof that you did exactly what you ought to have done. Never argue or get angry. Let the facts speak for themselves.
10. Treat others well
Always treat others as you want them to treat you. If you want them to take your achievements seriously, make sure that's what you do. If you want them to see you as someone important, treat yourself that way. No one will ever see you as more useful or important than you see yourself.
11. Never, NEVER fight
Never complain. Never whine. People have very little tolerance for -- or interest in -- the problems of others, especially if they're gloomy or likely to cause trouble. If you fight, people will avoid being involved. If you complain, they'll try to keep out of it. If you whine, they'll see you as the problem. Be generous with praise. People love to be praised and recognized -- and love people who do it to them. The more you praise others -- with justification -- the more they'll praise you. The same applies to criticism.
12. Be deserving of success
Be helpful and generous to everyone you meet on your way up. They'll remember you for it and won't try to pull you down once you've reached higher things. Have everyone convinced -- and saying -- you richly deserve your success. Companies aren't democracies, but top people don't get there by ignoring public opinion.
Organizations are like clubs
The people who get to the top positions choose others they like. They don't choose problem people they don't trust. You need to establish three things without question:
1. You're outstanding at what you do today.
2. You're completely trustworthy.
3. You're a really nice person to have around.
Do this and you'll be unstoppable -- whatever your boss says.
Adrian W. Savage writes for people who want help with the daily dilemmas they face at work. He has contributed more than 25 articles to leading British and American publications and has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Chicago Tribune.
Visit his blog http://www.adriansavage.com/ on the ups and downs of business life.