In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she would love to take a crack at your emotional dilemmas. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. You can also check her out on her weekly column over at Lemondrop. Today, Gynomite takes on boss problems.
I have a problem. I have been working at a new job for about 7 months. I LOVE the challenges this job presents. My boss, however, is another story. She is a micro-manager. She has 5 children, inherited the business from her mother, and is committed to being a good mom, but not so committed to the company. That’s great, if she would just hire someone to RUN the company. She will “pop in” and interfere with everyone’s projects, hold everything up, and then disappear for a couple days. She brings her toddlers into meetings, she will completely miss meetings without a call or an email. Most days we have no idea if she will be in or not. She places unreasonable deadlines on us because she has no idea how to run ANYTHING.
The company is too small to me to go elsewhere here. I think the problem is, I do not respect her, at all. I like the job, but I can’t stand the way she is running things into the ground. She bottlenecks all processes, she reminds me of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland – “Off with his head” as soon as anyone upsets her. She is utterly ridiculous. I am used to people who work hard, people I respect and admire, people who are professional. She can barely make it to work by 1pm, yet she expects all of us to “clock in” by 9am. She screams and goes into tantrums in meetings and flies off the handle constantly.
What do I do?
Dealing with a boss who needs a boss can be very very tricky. Tread carefully.
It does sound as if she’s not the most adept at running a company, and that can be hard to deal with. I wonder if this a complaint you’ve heard from anyone else at the company, or if other people seem happy with her performance?
In some ways, it’s awesome that you are so devoted to this company’s health and well being. In other ways, you can’t be so concerned about the work other people are or are not doing, even if it’s your boss. You have to decide if you personally don’t respect her and it annoys you, or if you feel like something needs to be said and done about her work performance. Because if it’s just the former, you will just have to accept her insanity and find ways to cope with it.
If you do feel like something needs to be done, you will need to approach with caution. This is a great time to use the “playing stupid” method of critiquing someone else. Start noting to yourself examples of times when you feel like some more concise, leaderlike action should have been taken. Note what did occur, and then note what you think should have occurred, and make sure these examples are not solely focused on your boss’ incompetence, but rather, mistakes across the board. If you decide to approach your boss, or the next in leadership under your boss, about these issues, you will need to approach it as “These are some ideas I had because I love this company and I’ve noticed….” rather than “This sucks about our company and I want to fix it”. Everything should be said as if you are just a tiny part of a team that wants to make the team better. Being relatively new, you are in the perfect position to do this. I would also suggest using yourself and your own “incompetence” wherever possible, perhaps informing your boss that you have a hard time concentrating in meetings when there are adorable children around, or asking if you can have more of a concrete set of expectations from your boss, because you want to make sure you’re doing the best for her and for the company. Keep everything focused on yourself and your desire to work hard and accurately, rather than focusing on how her actions make everything run slower. You are in a great position, being so new, but that newness will wear out soon, and with it, your window of opportunity.
So again, I would challenge you to make sure that this is just not your own annoyance with her personally bleeding over into your job, but once you gut check those feelings, it’s time to very carefully and wide-eyed innocently be a team player. Good luck.