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Dealing with Bosses

Even a good boss is a challenge. But when you’re dealing with bosses, dealing with difficult bosses makes everything twice as hard.

It can often feel as if you’re the one managing the boss. Business Management Daily shows you how to transform you and your boss into an efficient, unstoppable team.

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Your gut tells you to wait a day before sending an angry e-mail or to stay away from the rumor mill. That’s your intuitive intelligence, says best-selling author and UCLA psychiatrist Judith Orloff. By checking in with your intuitive coach, she says in her book Second Sight, you end up making better on-the-job decisions and navigating office politics masterfully.

Question:  “I work for a boss who is physically abusive. He’s never touched me, but I’ve seen him snap other female employees with rubber bands, leaving a bruise. He likes to punch the male employees and hit them in the head. He says he’s just “playing around.” “Barbara,” the owner of our small company, works closely with this man and relies on him a lot. However, she has no idea about his abusive behavior. I’ve started documenting his actions, but I don’t know how to tell Barbara. — Fearful
Question: “My boss is a dictating micromanager, and I’m having difficulty handling the situation. How can I let him know that I can manage most situations with little or no supervision? I don’t want to be insubordinate, but he needs to stop breathing down my neck. — Cindi

It’s 4:30 p.m., and one of your bosses has finally given you the documents you expected to receive that morning—the documents you need in order to wrap up a task by the 5:30 p.m. deadline. This is your biggest pet peeve—receiving things late (and without warning), but being expected to complete the task on time. What to do?

If you work for a hothead who screams and curses, do you yell back? As satisfying as it may feel at the time, ratcheting up your fury won’t solve the problem.

When a control-freak boss monitors your every move, you and your co-workers may be tempted to rebel. Instead, don't let your annoyance show. “Getting visibly irritated when he leans on you will only make him think he needs to keep an even closer eye on you,” says Albert J. Bernstein, a clinical psychologist and author of Am I The Only Sane One Working Here? Here are more strategies:

Question: Our HR manager recently told me that my bosses had complained about my coming in late.  I am a secretary to three attorneys in a large law firm. Since I frequently work after hours without overtime pay, I assumed that arriving late was no problem. When I apologized to the attorneys, they said the HR manager brought up the subject. The attorneys thanked me for working in the evenings.  I have told the HR manager that I don’t appreciate her misrepresenting the situation. I would like an unbiased third party to mediate this tardiness issue, but a friend says that bringing up overtime would create big problems. What should I do?”  Angry with HR

Move over, Google. Microsoft grabs tech headlines this month by adding zippy new features to its Internet Explorer browser. Here are four cool tricks that will save time for you and your employees.

Sure, at one time or another, we’ve all worked for some great bosses and some bad bosses. But nothing can be more debilitating than working for someone who is ignorant of the laws. In the following case, a company president walked right into an FMLA lawsuit because he had never even heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act. He knows about it now ...

“Hot teams” improvise, do more work with less supervision and make the extra effort to follow through. Management consultant Laurence Haughton offers this advice for turning ordinary groups into hot teams.

Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.

Cutting training willy-nilly just to save money can create more problems than it solves. During economic downturns, companies need efficient, targeted training programs to improve productivity. And effective training positions companies to prosper as the economy recovers. To examine training programs and avoid eliminating those that do work, ask the following questions:

Your manager doesn’t give feedback on your job performance. When you seek input, he replies, “If there’s a problem, I’ll let you know.” You need to sell your boss on the win-win benefit of providing performance feedback.

If your boss micromanages and drives you crazy, forge a stronger relationship with him or her. For example, practice the "art" of communication, says Harry E. Chambers, author of My Way or the Highway—the Micromanagement Survival Guide. “Show that you’re in motion on priority projects by communicating in three specific terms: awareness, reassurance and timelines."

There’s a right and wrong way to disagree with your manager. If you speak too bluntly (“You’re missing the point”), you may trigger defensiveness. Your great insight can fall upon deaf ears. A better approach is to begin on a note of agreement.

As Administrative Professionals Week (April 19-25) approached, we couldn’t help but wonder what crazy things bosses have asked admins to do. So we asked readers of our Admin Pro Forum to tell us about the most unusual or bizarre thing their boss ever asked them to do. For starters: "Open his sandwich every day to make sure no tomatoes were on it."

For the most part, your boss leaves you alone to do your work. That’s how you like it. Sometimes, however, you must get your boss’s approval to resolve a costly problem. And that’s when problems can erupt.

Cheaper child care is increasingly necessary as budgets tighten, says Lisa Belkin, a New York Times reporter who covers workplace issues. Here are some of the creative ways working families are reducing the costs.

She steals credit for your work, blames you for something that you didn’t do or attempts to damage your reputation: the workplace saboteur. Saboteurs are most apt to strike in a weak economy like the current one, business psychologist Wendy Alfus Rothman tells The Wall Street Journal.

In Working Girl, Melanie Griffith overhauls her appearance so others will take her seriously. In the real world, it takes more than a wardrobe change to lift your on-the-job reputation from “wet behind the ears” to “wise beyond your years.” Indeed, changing the perception others have of you at work can take up to 18 months ...

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