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Working with a lousy boss

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in Admins,Office Management

Fortunately, not everyone needs the advice that follows. Most admin readers have strong partnerships with their managers or see ways to build that bond.

But we know less capable managers are out there, and that some admins are still struggling through their relationships with lousy bosses. Is the solution to quit? Not with unemployment rates exceeding 10%.

Here’s another option: Negotiate with your boss, the way the FBI negotiates during a hostage situation.

That’s the advice of Jim Camp (, an executive coach who has consulted with the FBI on negotiation tactics. He insists you can overcome a boss problem the same way. Here’s how:

1. Ask your boss “interrogatory questions.”

A common thread with lousy bosses is their inability to make decisions and communicate a set of goals. “When he can’t create a vision, the boss becomes toxic,” says Camp.

For example, say the boss gives you an impossible deadline. “Help him flesh out why he’s done that,” suggests Camp.

Ask questions like, “What’s our long-term goal?” or “How important is it that these be put together by day’s end?”

2. Negotiate an agenda. Say your boss is a yeller. He doesn’t want to talk; he just wants you to follow orders.

Camp suggests saying something like, “I desperately want to get this done properly. You’ve got to help me. I need to see what you see here.”

He points to T. J. Rodgers, the founder and chief executive officer of Cypress Semiconductor and one of the toughest bosses on the planet—impatient and prone to yelling.

Camp says that nevertheless, Rodgers responds favorably to employees who ask him direct, focused questions. “You can bring him right back to reality,” Camp says.

3. Intervene with a question, before you’re in a crisis. Example: If your boss belittles people during meetings or group conversations, visit her before the next huddle and ask, “How do I participate in the next meeting and really bring value to you?”

Will it work? Camp believes it will.

Besides, he says, the alternative is unacceptable. “You’ve got to help your boss solve the problem,” he says, “or live miserably for the rest of your life on the job.”

— Adapted from “A New Approach To Dealing With A Lousy Boss,” Susan Adams, Forbes.

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