I don’t yell, rant, curse, pitch fits, or get in your face when things go wrong. But I have to confess that as the owner of a training company, I probably would have labeled myself a demanding boss. You may work for a demanding boss as well—one who’s driving you nuts! Recognize these habits?
Emails to your inbox at all hours
Urgent projects piled on top of your other unfinished projects
A “to-do” assigned half-hour before time to leave for the day
A question for you as you start out the door
Insistence that things be done accurately and with excellence
Insistence on punctuality
Insistence on exceeding customer standards and meeting customer deadlines
So here are my suggestions on how to manage such bosses, managers, and team leaders:
The Definite Do’s––How to Manage a Demanding Boss:
Clarify the Expectation About Email Responses After Hours
Just because your boss wants to do a brain-dump into a midnight email does not mean she expects you to respond at that hour. It’s far more efficient for a boss to write an email to you “while s/he’s thinking of it” than to make a note to themselves about the issue (including all the details currently in his mind) and then remember to send the email the following day.
Unless your boss tells you specifically that he/she expects a response at 2:00 a.m., assume that’s not the case and that responses can wait until office hours. If in doubt about your boss’ expectations, clarify the standard for response times.
Set Personal Boundaries by Agreeing to After-Hours Check-In Times
If your boss does indeed expect you to respond to texts, voicemails, or emails after hours, explain that you have personal responsibilities to handle after hours so that you can be fully available during work hours. But agree that you will check in to respond to urgent messages at 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. if they are marked “urgent” so you can distinguish them from others.
Ask Your Boss to Re-Prioritize Projects When Adding More Urgent Ones to Your Pile
The boss may simply not know how long a project takes—or may not recall how many projects or initiatives you have stacked on your desk. Simply provide a list of the project, estimated completion time, and due dates. Ask which due dates can be adjusted or which initiatives can take a “back seat” to the new priority.
Consider Late-Breaking Assignments or Questions With Mutual Regard
A mutually respectful relationship should be a give-and-take. If your boss observes you making personal phone calls at work, paying bills online, chit-chatting for an half-hour on Monday mornings about your weekend, or handling a family crisis while at the office, then it’s not going to occur to him to be concerned about detaining you for a few minutes around quitting time to delegate a task or ask a question that just popped into his mind.
If you have an urgent reason to leave promptly that day, say so. Rather than getting upset about the intrusion, recall that the boss may have had an urgent reason for you to finish a task the day you were doing something personal and not exactly “on it.”
Make flexibility mutual.
Take on the Mantra of Accountability Yourself
The quickest way to stop your boss from preaching punctuality, accuracy, and excellence is to demonstrate your commitment to these goals yourself. Assume responsibility for them on your watch. Otherwise, you and your demanding boss will continue to communicate past each other, irritate each other, and produce stress for each other until you part.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week—Confessions of a Demanding Boss: How NOT to Manage Them. In the meantime, click on this link to download 12 Habits to Become a Better Boss or Team Leader.