The FIVE “Bad Boss Situation” HACKs
The following excerpt is from Domenic and Diane Certa’s book Manager Hacker. Buy it now from Amazon in paperback or ebook.
Domenic and Diane weren’t always effective managers, but what makes them stand out is that they’ve managed hundreds of teams of people, made huge mistakes and fine tuned corrections and then tested everything before they wrote their book. As a result of their dedicated testing they did with their own management skills, Domenic and Diane know for a fact what elements of management worked and what didn’t, and they were able to apply their findings to their teams so that they kept achieving better and better results.
In their classic book, Manager Hacker, Domenic and Diane included a chapter on “The Four Ideal Ways Managers Are Suppose to Develop You” in which they lay out some of the basic laws of people management that produced results, based on years of testing different ways of managing people and analyzing their resulting sales and marketing result rates. Here are just some of these laws that worked back then — and still work today:
So, if you’re in a bad situation with a bad boss and you seriously want to change it, you have to ignite change in yourself and it starts with doing subtle little things that over time will make a big difference.
- Stop pressuring, stop criticizing, stop complaining and stop whining. Anytime you catch yourself pressuring people (including your manager), criticizing, complaining or whining, instantly STOP. It might not be easy because these behaviors are so ingrained and habitual, but you have to resist the temptation or sarcastic statements. Apologize if or when you screw up then regroup your thoughts, restate your words in a positive way and move forward. What’s good is when people don’t feel put down, it impels them to take action. The less pressure, the better it is for managers to do their job and the better the team is at being productive.
- Stop saying “I need” because it creates low self-esteem and makes you sound weak. Remember, needy people are like black holes…they suck! Yes, at work, there are certain resources you “need” to do your job but that’s not what I’m talking about here. You still NEED resources so continue to ask for them but if you’re asking in a complaining or whining way, knock it off! When you listen to other people say “I need,” you will easily see how it makes them sound weak and lowers their self-confidence. “I need a vacation,” “I need a break,” “I need coffee,” “I need a smoke.” When you say “I need” what you’re really saying is, “There is something wrong with me” and I “need” something external to fix me. The truth is there’s nothing “wrong” with you. Get over it. Stop trying to get sympathy. It doesn’t work and it won’t work if you want to improve your situation. If you are struggling to get your managers message, ask them for logical steps so you can accomplish your goals instead of being needy.
- Unless it’s something dire, start agreeing with anything your manager says or does, even if it’s wrong or negative. Many managers, and yes even a bad boss, are open to ideas, but when a manager has a closed mind and the situation is bad, the truth is they are in love with their own negative feelings and thoughts so much that they won’t let any outside, positive vibe or thoughts in. If you try to reason with them especially when the situation is bad, what they are hearing from you is that you think they’re wrong. That causes them to push back and have an even more closed mind. So like if your manager says “this situation is hopeless” you say “Yes, you’re right, this situation is hopeless.” If your manager says “I don’t trust upper management” you say “Yes, I agree, it’s really hard to trust them.” And for god sake, don’t defend yourself, it makes you look like an idiot! Just agree, sound sincere, shut up and go do your work. Lots of people won’t agree with this HACK but when a situation is bad, and your goal is to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. The important thing here is to make sure you’re only agreeing with your manager – you’re not spreading this negative vibe anywhere else. The idea is to reassure your manager how things will benefit from their ideas and how they will make everyone’s lives better.
- Just be happy or at least “act” happy about everything as it is. If something is screwed up, just say something like “Oh man!” or “That’s okay, no problem, we’ll/I’ll figure something else out.” Acting perfectly happy about any and all situations, good, bad or challenging will change everything like magic, especially for you. If your manager is pissed-off, just let them blow a fuse and do your best not to get sucked into their drama. When they’ve finished with their meltdown, kick your happy act in. When you “act” happy even though you may not actually be happy, physically acting will help you to shift your mindset. It’s just like forcing yourself to smile when you do that, you feel happier. If they are upset with you or give you any feedback, always say “thank you,” or “you’re right,” or “damn, I didn’t do that right.” When you’re in a bad situation with a difficult manager, it’s always better to let them be right about whatever their interpretation is about a situation. Agree with it, and be willing to do whatever it is they want and do it their way. You want to get yourself out of the way as much as possible, by being happy, you leave yourself out of the equation.
- Be urgent with your work, take immediate action often and be willing, one hundred percent, to do things your manager’s way. There’s no payoff in being right, there’s only being righteous and everyone loves to hate a righteous jackass, so let them hate your boss, not you. Speed and deliberate action are the easiest ways to show your manager (they have to see you moving fast) that you are on their side. Being slow only frustrates the hell out of them. The more urgency you show, you’re really showing that your interest is in creating results and not about boasting. Boasting is repulsive. The aim is to get action from everyone on the team by being the urgent example.
With these 5 HACKs in mind, actively observe your words, behavior, actions, and attitude. If you catch yourself forgetting to apply the rules, don’t beat yourself up and don’t get frustrated with yourself. Set some daily reminders on your phone and start each day new. Also, as much as possible, be sincere with your words and actions especially with your boss. If you are sarcastic or insincere, this will backfire. Start out slowly with one or two HACKs until you get the hang of them and then add the next one. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the relationship improves and how much more enjoyable your job will be.
It’s not only important to HACK yourself at work, it’s important to hack yourself outside of work. In my next few posts, I will give you 5 HACKs to help you speed up the process of getting more of what you want from of your career and life.
Invite me to connect and ask me any manager question you have by emailing me at: email@example.com