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Dealing With Overbearing Bosses

Browbeating Young Execs Is Sign Of Weakness

Dear readers, I had talked about yelling bosses last month. The aim was to explain that most bosses and mentors do not scream their heads off just because they relish scaring young executives and managers. However, the fact remains that a small percentage of corporate biggies do deal with their juniors in a monstrous manner. Driven to the end of their tether, exasperated juniors are often forced to react in a fashion that damages their career grievously. Such confrontations are best avoided.

What is the way out?

The first step in this direction involves winning the trust of your reporting manager. This is most relevant in Corona times when several managers are working from home and means of direct communications are disrupted. Your senior manager who is responsible for producing predetermined results is working virtually in the dark. Used to interacting with his team in person, he may be confronted with a trust crisis in these days. He has no easy means to find whether you are really working at home or taking cookery lessons or mending domestic electric gadgets. The situation makes the boss nervy. He feels he is no longer in control of things. Hence the occasional outbursts during telephonic interactions.

There are honest ways to avoid confrontations. Ensure that you are indeed working from home. You need to be organised. Whatever data that can be procured in such circumstances should be at hand. This will make tele-calls or video-calls more effective and fruitful. Figures, graphs and excel sheets should be kept ready to be displayed or transmitted to the boss on demand. Occasional calls and requests to the boss for doubt clearance and guidance enhances his trust in you. You both feel engaged in the same mission. Chances of spats get reduced. Mutual confidence grows.

Another way for a healthy relationship with the boss is proactive communication. Remember that the boss has the entire team reporting to him. You can make his life easier by e-mailing him your day’s to-do or priority list first thing in the morning. Do mention pending goals and how you propose to catch up. A smart manager is expected to suggest possible solutions as well. Flooding the boss only with a laundry list of obstacles and problems is not going to take you too far. Despite being young and raw you are expected to be a thinking manager. This is the kind of communication needed at all times and especially so during extraordinary crises like the Covid 19 pandemic.

Despite your best efforts you may find that the boss continues to be overbearing, intrusive and domineering. It is time now to seek a direct one-on-one interaction with him, in person or electronically as per the situation. You should explain to the boss your way of working, your hits and misses, and your improvement plan. Do seek his specific, empirical and categorical views on what he considers lackadaisical performance by you.

Analyse the senior’s critique. It is likely that he may be correct on certain points. You may have overlooked some of your shortcomings. It is also possible that part of your work style and personal goals may not be in alignment with the company’s work culture and vision. Consider such a revelation a golden opportunity for course correction.

These were some of right ways to mend ties with overbearing bosses. But getting a good boss is a matter of luck as well. Weak bosses will continue to micromanage, yell and shout at you even if they come across one thing wrong among the hundred tasks you have done well, never give credit for good work but on the contrary steal your bright ideas to move up the corporate ladder. Being nasty is the weak manager’s defense mechanism. He tries to browbeat his juniors because he has no answers and solutions to their queries and challenges.

It is likely that you may fall prey to such bosses in companies or industries plagued by poor work cultures. You may, therefore, need to seek fresh pastures. Do that with a happy heart because the moribund companies you are leaving are doomed. Weak managers can take their companies in one direction only – down.

Head for the highway, bright ones! It will take you places.


Basant Chaudhary is a Poet, Writer, The Chairman of BLC and Basant Chaudhary Foundation. ([email protected])

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