Have you ever noticed that things tend to go in trends? Well yesterday I had 4 coaching calls, and every single client was inordinately frustrated with his or her boss. All four of these folks had definitely tagged ‘managing up’ as a focus area for coaching, but things seemed to have reached a fever pitch yesterday – it made me wish I understood astrology to see if there was something in the stars!
All of the complaining (gently called venting by coach Mad) centered on the same things –bosses who try to be decent at certain things that aren’t natural to them have folded under stress and aren’t even trying anymore. The general message is “don’t expect me to change my spots – just suck it up and deal with it.” The result is that unsupportive bosses are less supportive than ever, uncommunicative bosses cease all communication, surly bosses become downright mean. None of this is improving anything.
Some questions for my clients in pain:
- What can you do to take care of yourself?
- How can you communicate your distress to your boss, if at all?
- As a boss yourself are you potentially weakening the same way?
Here are the takeaways from collective brainstorming and discussion:
- It takes guts to call your boss out on bad behavior, but if the relationship is there it can be worth it. Practice giving feedback using concrete observations and neutral language. Ask how you can help ease pressure.
- If your boss is folding under pressure and providing you with nothing you need, stop complaining and start finding what you need elsewhere. Sure it sucks more time, but you can’t go under just because your boss is losing it.
- If you notice other people – especially your boss’s peers- are also complaining about your boss, keep your ear to the ground for political repercussions. If people are being laid off, your boss could be on the list and you need to be prepared. Harsh but true.
- If you are a boss and you have more work than usual because people have been laid off, and business is down 27% and you are more stressed than you have ever been in your adult life, now is the time to grow. This is not the time to revert to bad habits. Under no circumstance is it appropriate to take things out on your direct reports. Now is the time to be more communicative, patient and generous. It is called “rising to the occasion” – a marvelous expression. Ask yourself how you are rising to this occasion.