Bad bosses come in all shapes and sizes. There are the ones that are downright bullies, not caring if they lose their temper, talk down to and hurt the feelings of those that report to them. Then there are the egotists that believe they are smarter than everyone else and have no need to listen to or take feedback from those they are supposed to serve. In between are the micromanagers, the ones that are unaware, unable to make decisions or willing to take credit for your work and the work of others. The list is endless but the consequences are predictable, bad for morale of the organization, resulting in greater turnover, decreased engagement and loss of productivity. Unless we have been extremely fortunate, or had very limited work experience, chances are that we have had one of these bosses in our working lives. The question is, “What do we do about it?” If we have compelling reasons to stick around and believe there is a possibility that we can help our boss make some needed changes, there are actions we can take that may help.
Here are 5 things you can do to secretly help your boss become more emotionally intelligent:
Try Not to Take It Personally
Unless he or she is a total jerk or psychopath, chances are your boss is not deliberately setting out to make your life miserable. You are just part of the circumstances that your boss feels they are in and part of what they see as the solution. If able, try to have empathy and imagine what pressures they may be facing from their superiors or other factors in their lives that may be making life difficult for them. Giving them the benefit of the doubt will help keep you from getting caught up in negative feelings and draining your energy that could be used more productively.
Don’t Make Assumptions About Your Boss’s Motivation or Character
Unless your boss has told you that he is aware of what he or she is doing and doesn’t care, don’t assume that they are aware. Their reality may be being tested and they’re out of esteem. They may be under a great deal of pressure at work or be in a difficult family situation that is causing them to act out of character. Try to find out as much information as you can about their situation at work and outside of it. Is there anyone who knows them outside of work? Check out social media to see if you can find clues to their personal world. This does not mean stalking.
Find Out What They Care About, What Drives and Motivates Them
People have the greatest motivation to change if they see a direct benefit to something they desire and are working towards achieving. What keeps them up at night or stresses them out the most? If you can find this out and offer to help, it will build rapport and a relationship. Your only hope of influencing your boss will be to get yourself in a place where they trust you and see value in what you are offering. Find out what their greatest pressure points are and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Asking them what they would like more of and/or less of in the workplace is a great starting place.
Enlist Others You Work With to Demonstrate What You Would Like More of From Your Boss
Talk to your colleagues and see if they have any insights or ideas on how to make the relationship between you or your boss better. Avoid people who only want to complain and are not interested in solutions. Have they noticed times when your boss is in a better mood? Are there times they are doing or saying something that you see as positive? Set up scenarios to demonstrate the behaviour that you would like to see when your boss is around. For example, at staff meetings have people praise each other and show appreciation for the efforts they have made. Acknowledge your colleagues and give them credit for a job well done in front of your boss. If your boss lacks empathy, make a point of showing empathy to others in the organization who have suffered through illness, loss of loved ones, relationships and other areas. Discuss books, articles on E.I. and suggest speakers for upcoming conferences or staff development. Talk about people who your boss looks up to in terms of their high emotional intelligence qualities.
Reward the Positive and Any Change Efforts That You Notice
If you catch your boss doing something positive, something that you appreciate, make sure you let them know. Reinforce anything they do that you would like them to do more of. If you see any changes towards the better, let your boss know that it was noticed and appreciated. Not everyone likes to be recognized and appreciated in the same way. Knowing as much as possible about your boss will help you determine what kind of appreciation will have the greatest impact.