If I had a penny every time I heard ‘my boss is driving me crazy, what can I do about it?’ …
Like with any other important relationship, we want the one we have with our job to be nourishing, nurturing and energizing, a place of fair and equal exchanges, of mutual respect, where we can learn, grow and evolve, and self- express.
The reality, alas, is not always that simple. While we all want collaboration and teamwork, many places still operate under self-preservation and a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality.
In an ideal world, we would be working together on elevating each other, but here we are. So what now?
Quitting the job is not always a possibility – what can be, however, is finding new ways to deal with the challenges and not letting others get under your skin (or at least, as little as possible)
Take your power back
Premise 1: your boss is not your parent – period
Old school script says that some forms of authority had dominion over your decisions.
Certainly your boss as a figure of authority fits the definition – after all, they hold the cards for your future at where you are. But as much your boss deserves respect for their knowledge and their experience, they are not semi-gods.
First step first in mending your relationship with the job is to take a step back and reconsider how much power you are giving this person.
Yes, your boss has a say on your objectives and your value at the job, but no, they don’t define your self-worth and their mood shouldn’t define yours either.
Flip the script from ‘I am are here to please them’, ‘they are here to punish or reward me’, back to a contractual exchange of deliverables vs paycheck, promotion and mutual support.
Have that talk
Premise 2: communication is everything
Communication, communication, communication! If you haven’t done so, sit with your boss and ask them open questions – starting with something along the lines of: ‘this is what I would like to do because [benefit for the job, the team, the company], is there anything else [helpful to you] that I am not seeing?.
Be proactive, take control back of the situation to the extent possible. Show your boss that you are committed to the Company and willing to receive feedback.
It may not solve the underlying issue, but it will show goodwill and commitment. And possibly buy you some time and peace.
Put things into perspective
Premise 3: your job is only part of the bigger equation that is you
When the job becomes your whole life, your identity, your raison d’etre – it’s time to realize that you have gone too far in your ‘commitment’ to it.
Take a step back and ask yourself (be honest!):
Why did the job become my whole life? What am I avoiding? Am I hiding something (uncomfortable) from myself? What other things am I longing for?
Caring for your job and your career can be an act of self-care and self-love for some – or it can be an excuse not to go home because we want to avoid a difficult conversation – it’s a personal choice we make.
Where it gets detrimental is when we give the job the responsibility for our happiness – very lofty expectations and the potential for many disappointments down the line – aggravating the feeling of being let down by your boss.
Do not put all your self-identity eggs in one basket.
As much as the job is a big part of your life, it cannot be all of it.
Start exploring other facets of yourself beyond the overachiever’s hat.
Premise 4: when you are under pressure, so is your boss, their boss and so on
Here is a thought – your boss has a boss too. They have objectives and pressure too. They may also be living in the fear of losing their job, their team’s respect, their boss’s approval…
In itself, it’s not your problem if they are not able to manage people from a place of true leadership and cooperation.
What may be interesting for you however is to see what is happening behind their curtains. How would you do it differently? Is their behavior part of their ‘professional’ personality? Or is the Company’s culture?
If it is the latter, can you live with the mismatch with your values (because there is still something in that place for you)?
See your career as an enterprise and you the pilot
Premise 5: claim your sovereignty
Toxic environment or not, I am here to invite you to stop thinking as being ‘employed by’ and start viewing your career as your own enterprise.
This means taking charge of the direction you want to go to next.
Consider your current job as one piece of the bigger puzzle that is your career and get to decide what the next move is.