He might raise his voice, pound his fists or even roll his eyes one too many times. He’s the cranky boss — the one who seriously needs to take a nap — and he’s throwing a fit in offices everywhere. It’s time to learn how to handle him.
First, know what you’re dealing with. According to Rita Gunther McGrath, associate professor at Columbia Business School, there are two types of grouches: “permanent” and “situational.” For the situational types, McGrath suggests noting what occasions and issues tend to provoke negative episodes. She elaborates: “You need to understand what the person’s goals and motivations are and why they may be frustrated in achieving these. If you can help them with their goals, they are often able to dial back on the bad karma.”
And as for that permanent grump? “Have an escape route,” says McGrath.
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Michael Roberto, professor of management at Bryant University, suggests enlisting the help of others. “Find someone who has thrived working for this boss and ask them for tips on how to handle this person. What are their keys to success?” Or you can reach further. “Find a mentor elsewhere in the organization so that you meet your developmental needs in a different way, rather than letting your development stagnate while working for this cranky boss.”
When all else fails, be the adult in the room. “Malcontented bosses are like unreasonably disgruntled children,” explains Sarah Hathorn, CEO and founder of Illustra Consulting. “Solving the attitude issues of your boss is not part of your job description. Stick to the real challenges and professional tasks by maintaining your own positive outlook, can-do attitude and healthy work and life balance. Strive for performance and productivity while distinguishing between drama and bottom-line results.”