She is the boss from hell. In the book and later the film, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Miranda Priestly, is the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. She spends most of her time terrorizing and insulting the majority of her employees, who take it because she is offering a career-starter job with many perks in a glamorous industry. “Details of your incompetence do not interest me,” she calmly says as she asks her assistant to book her a flight out during a hurricane. But while her portrayal of this nightmare boss may be a caricature, her dismissive attitude, complete lack of communication skills, and unrealistic expectations are all too common in today’s workplace. A recent Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss. Most people will work for a difficult boss at some point in their career.
So what do you do if you have a boss who unreasonably does things like Miranda such as: yells and screams, forces you to work extended overtime, insults and humiliates you personally or in front of others, and blames you when things go wrong? If you can’t leave because you desperately need the job or see it as the next step up in the career ladder, then your best option is to do the best you can in what seems like an impossible situation.
You can’t change your boss, but you can change you.
Having a bad boss doesn’t excuse you from being a good person or a good employee. And good employees manage up. Accomplish this by controlling your response to the boss’s craziness. Maintain your sense of poise, productivity and balance. Practice relaxation or meditation techniques before you allow yourself to respond with anger. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I am calm and relaxed, nothing bothers me. I feel healthy, happy and fantastic. Streams of power flow through my veins, all is well.” Put the words you say to yourself in the present. Or close your eyes and take three, long deep breaths before you start screaming like an alien who landed in Roswell.
Bring your “A” game to work every single day. Perform like you have never performed before. My father used to tell me, “If you are a street sweeper, then be the happiest and the best street sweeper in the company.” It is hard for a boss to complain if you’re doing everything right and smiling about it. You will feel better after trying your best instead of complaining. Sometimes the workplace is dirty, unethical and downright nasty, but don’t ever be a part of that. By complaining you’re contributing to the negative environment instead of showing your real value and true work ethic.
Realize that the opportunity in most jobs is not to learn a specific or creative skill, but to learn people skills. This is what will differentiate you and help you succeed over anything else. That’s why you’re actually lucky to have a bad boss! There will never be a deficiency of difficult people at your job or in your life. Use this prime opportunity to your advantage, and remember nothing lasts forever.
Not all of us are suited to be presidents of company’s or inspirational leaders. Most of us don’t realize how difficult it really is to be a good manager. Your participation, empathy, attitude and respect towards your boss will be reflected in how your boss treats you. It is truly the responsibility of the employee to bring out the best in the manager. That is what it really means to, “Boss It Up With Balance!”