My Boss is Crazy. Now What?

Blog Post A Culture that Fuels Our Strategy

The old saying is people don’t quit companies, they quit managers. Well, trouble is, you can only quit once. If that’s your play, have at it. For those for whom that might not be the best option, here are a few pathways forward.

  1. Don’t Get Any on You. We teach our kids that they are known to others by the friends they keep. At work, there’s a bit of grace because we all know you can’t pick your relatives, nor can you pick your coworkers. That said, going native doesn’t make sense either. Be the adult in the room, even if you’re not the boss. Do not violate your principles, but also remember it’s important to live to fight another day.
  2. Find a Need and Fill It. This one is two-sided. Like any good employee, get clear on what your boss needs for their success and find a place to contribute that makes their lives easier. They’ll be less crazy on you when you’re getting them what they need. Secondly, though, get clear what isn’t being provided that others in your organization and in other organizations with which you work need or rely on. People – likely other potential managers – will see your impact and contribution and be interested in you for their teams or for leading a team yourself in the future.
  3. Make Requests of Your Manager. Some requests can be for your manager to change. Make clear, specific, and actionable requests for ways your manager can help you help them and the group’s needs. Another approach is to make requests to take things off the manager’s plate. A manager who was terrible with organization did a poor job of planning the spend for the group each quarter. Asking him to ‘get better at planning’ wouldn’t work. However, asking him to delegate that planning to Amanda was perfect. She was a brilliant planner who got it done early, thoughtfully, and in a way that worked for the team and the manager.
  4. Ask People of Influence for Help. Asking Human Resources for help can sometimes work, others not. Another approach is to consider who is in your network who is an influencer to your manager. Get guidance or advice from them on how to best work with the crazy parts of your manager’s style, or even ask them to use their influence to speak to the manager to change her ways a bit.
  5. Win the Lottery. For some reason, sipping wine on the deck of your new mountain cabin helps all the crazy of the working world disappear.

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