IT Best Practices

How to Deal with a Boss Who Behaves Unpredictably

One minute your boss is hot, the next your boss is cold. One day the biggest ally and the next a mortal enemy. This can make any employee’s head spin about how their boss feels towards them. But you need to realize it is not your fault, and more than likely it has nothing to do with you. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Carolyn O’Hara offers six ways to deal with a moody manager:

  1. Don’t take it personally.
  2. Look for triggers and patterns.
  3. Be thoughtful about your timing.
  4. Stay calm.
  5. Offer some strategic gratitude.
  6. Know when to get help and when to get out.

Take a Temperature

You are not the root of the problem. Something deeper is going on. So when your boss has frequent outbursts of yelling, the most helpful thing you can do is let it roll off your shoulders. As well, look at it from their point of view. Listen to what they are saying, not how they are saying it. Having deeper insight into the cause of your boss’s mood is important. When you seek out the clues and patterns that might reveal the cause of your boss’s temper change, you will be better equipped to deal with their temper.

Once you are privy to the underlying causes of your boss’s mood swings, then you can construct the best times for interaction. Something very important to remember though is that you cannot fight fire with fire–you will get a bigger flame! If your boss starts coming down at you, yelling and tearing you down, don’t give back an equal or worse reaction. If you feel as though you may have an outburst, walk away and calm down. Do not make it worse or act in a way you may later regret. Return when you can talk one-on-one in a calm environment.

In regards to offering some strategic gratitude, the article states:

“…deploying some well-timed gratitude can go a long way toward neutralizing his fury…When you can see he’s close to losing it try to send an email that says, ‘I’m really grateful for your help in this particular matter.’ That calms the ego a little bit, reduces their perceived threat, and communicates that you are appreciative of what they’re doing.”

Lastly, your boss may not be aware of their actions, and your openness in discussing it and addressing their issue could do some good. But if that does not help and you truly are dealing with classic bullying, it needs to be addressed and dealt with through the proper channels, either through HR or leaving altogether for better employment.

You can access the original article here:

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