Integrity Matters
March 05 , 2008

Evaluate bothersome boss

Question: (E-333)

My boss is getting on my nerves - any suggestions?


Carefully assess the severity of the situation and how long you have been irritated before taking action. Either cut the boss some slack, ask for a one-on-one opportunity to clear the air or find a different place to work.

Humans don't change their primary behaviors much after age 5, so you need to determine whether you can "fit in and flourish" or bail out before the frustrations do you in. My mother frequently reminded us that half of the people are placed on Earth to irritate the other half, and that they are successful.

Even so: Don't forget that successful teams and leaders are rewarded because they sustain high performance levels, increasing productivity while controlling overhead, even reducing costs. Tenacious and uncompromising measurements generate profits in business and victories in other areas.

Stress from intense and constant scrutiny - a dynamic essential for peak performance - is often a byproduct of success. To compete effectively in a local, regional or global economy, continuous improvement is not simply an option, but a necessity.

Is your issue with your boss a predictable casualty of demanding standards, time constraints and fierce competition? Organizations have strong and weak quarters, even years. Is the current pressure likely to change, and will that enable you and the boss to work with less irritation?

Only you know the answer. Seeking to understand your total working situation is a wise first step.

Certain coaches and bosses handle criticism graciously and discreetly, while others routinely leverage intimidation, seemingly oblivious to the destructive fallout from public humiliations.

Both kinds have been victorious and successful. Which kind of boss do you have? Is a significant part of your irritation related to his or her management behavior?

Simply because you disapprove of your leader's style does not mean that you cannot continue to prosper in such an imperfect environment. However, should you conclude your supervisor's behaviors are eroding your confidence, peace of mind and enthusiasm, then evaluate carefully the risks and rewards of addressing your frustrations directly. Are you ready to risk your job in order to improve it?

If not, seek advice and proceed carefully - whether you stay or go.

Finally, how much of the problem you are having relates to your own circumstances? Are you carrying additional stresses related to changes in your life, including marriage, family, divorce, health, surgery, personal finances or loss of a loved one?

If your own stress factors are significant, then consider backing away, take a breath. Usually, waiting 72 hours before making important decisions is prudent, including dealing with a boss who gets on your nerves.


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