Dr. Noelle Nelson

Excerpts from Got A Bad Boss?

Work Your Bad Boss

According to dictionary.com, “to work” something or someone is to put them into effective operation, to operate that thing or person for productive purposes. That is precisely what I mean by “work your boss.” I don’t mean transform your Bad Boss into a better boss. I literally mean: put your Bad Boss into effective operation to get you whatever it is that you want in your job or career. How? By learning your boss’s secret desire and secret fear.

Know Your Bad Boss’s Secret Desire and Secret Fear

Every boss has a secret desire--something he or she really wants but won’t reveal, because underneath that secret desire is a secret fear or insecurity that your Bad Boss can’t admit or doesn’t even understand. Your boss’s blind spot is your opportunity. I’m going to show you how to identify your Bad Boss’s secret fear so that you can fulfill your Bad Boss’s secret desire--to your benefit.

When you satisfy your Bad Boss’s innermost needs, you become important to your boss. Now you have the power to get what you want. That’s working your Bad Boss. This book is devoted to giving you a step-by-step proven game plan to work each of the most common Bad Boss types, so you can step out of misery and into success.

Face It: Your Bad Boss Doesn’t Care About You

The truth is, most bosses are so worried about their own job security that they’re not spending a lot of time fretting about you or your career goals. And Bad Bosses really don’t care about you. Bad Bosses only care about themselves. That’s why “managing up” is completely ineffective with a Bad Boss. You have a better chance of convincing people to ditch their cellphones than you do of getting a Bad Boss to have a meaningful chat about how to work more productively together.

However, working your Bad Boss by learning the secrets to his or her behavior, and putting that knowledge to use for the productive purpose of getting what you want is absolutely doable.

Discover Your Bad Boss’s Type

Your boss has a particular way of relating to the workplace, his or her approach to employees and responsibilities. Those behaviors define your boss’s type.

Finger Pointer Boss, for example, is one who manages by blaming, a hoary old method that has never worked, but is the only one he knows. Egomaniacal Boss is a boss who relentlessly toots his own horn, behaves as if he is God’s gift to the department, the company, the world, and who leaves behind a chaotic trail of unfinished projects, misplaced ideas and impossible tasks for you to deal with. Screamer/Irrational Boss reacts to the least bit of upset in the workplace, in her personal world, or in how she feels that day, with a high-pitched screaming fit.

This book identifies seven Bad Boss types: Finger Pointer Boss, Ghost Boss, Incompetent Boss, Egomaniacal Boss, Screamer/Irrational Boss, Favoritism Boss, and Sexist Horny Pig Boss.

Unlock The Secrets of Bad Boss Behavior

A Bad Boss behaves in many ways like an abuser. While all of us have secret fears, abusers take their fears and insecurities out on others. Knowing your Bad Boss's type leads to knowing his or her secret fears and desires, so you’re no longer at the mercy of your Bad Boss’s abuse. Your boss becomes predictable to you when no one else can figure out what’s going on.

Let’s say you have a Finger Pointer Boss. You discover that your Finger Pointer Boss’s secret desire is to be a 100% success. Your Finger Pointer Boss’s secret fear is that he’s terrified he doesn't have the goods, that he can’t pull it off. The result? Whenever there’s trouble, a Finger Pointer Boss just lays it off on someone else. That’s why any time there’s a mess up, the Finger Pointer Boss’s knee-jerk reaction is to look for who he can blame. Too often, that’s you. This book explains in detail how you can change how your Finger Pointer Boss views you--from scapegoat to a much-needed problem solver.

This is critical, because once you are able to help your Bad Boss achieve his or her secret desire, you become important to your boss, and now you have power--not power to lord over your boss (that’s emotional blackmail, and not what this book is about). Instead, you have earned leverage--positive power to get what you want from your Bad Boss and come out looking good because of it.

A Real Life Example: Working a Finger Pointer Boss

Naomi’s Story

Naomi works for an advertising agency as part of the design team. Her team turns client ideas into visuals. Typically, her Finger Pointer Boss and other VPs meet with the client, brainstorm a new ad campaign, and pass on their vision for the campaign to Naomi’s team.

Naomi sobbed in my office: “My boss never lets up! If the client doesn’t approve one of our mock-ups, my boss blames my team. It’s our fault--my fault usually--because often I head up the team. He’ll sneer, like I’m from under a rock, saying the design is a terrible idea, how could I possibly think that yellow was a powerful color choice, or that realism was the way to go, when he’s the one who said ‘I want yellow, lots of yellow,’ and ‘Get it as realistic as possible.’ ”

“It’s really creepy, Dr. Noelle,” Naomi continued. “He narrows his eyes at me, and has this curl to his lip like he’s tasted something disgusting. He never raises his voice. If anything, he practically hisses at me. And whatever it is, whatever goes wrong, whether it’s the client’s disapproval--which is normal in our business for at least the first few drafts--or his coffee isn’t hot enough or someone forgot to cc him on an email, it always somehow ends up being my fault!”

Naomi looked at me with imploring eyes: “I love my work, I just hate my boss! What can I do?”

As doubtful as Naomi was that she could ever become her Finger Pointer Boss’s problem solver--the secret to working her boss--Naomi was willing to give it a try. IPad constantly at the ready, Naomi entered every one of her boss’s instructions, right in front of him. At first, Naomi reported, her Finger Pointer Boss ignored what she was doing, but one day snapped: “What are you fussing with when you should be listening to me?” Naomi held out her iPad, and Finger Pointer Boss saw Naomi had faithfully typed in his latest directives. He said nothing, just grunted and walked away.

But the next time Finger Pointer Boss zinged Naomi with “A Western theme? Are you out of your mind? How hokey can you get?” Naomi referred to her iPad entries for the project and said, in a calm neutral voice: “On January third you requested we use cowboys and cattle to appeal more to the rugged male population.” Caught by his own words, Finger Pointer Boss was left speechless.

Naomi was sure she’d be fired. She’d stood up to her Bad Boss! Even defied him. But what the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound. Naomi took a deep breath and asked her Finger Pointer Boss: “How would you like the theme revised? We could maybe put the cowboys and cattle in the far background, and emphasize the great outdoors in the foreground.” Her boss looked at her for a long moment, then said: “OK. Try that.” Naomi dutifully typed his “OK” in her notes--and exhaled with relief.

I encouraged her to continue in this way, and as the weeks passed, not only was Naomi not fired, she was blamed less and less for things gone awry. Most importantly, her Finger Pointer Boss came to appreciate her input as Naomi used her considerable skills to help turn problems into solutions. Naomi was answering her Finger Pointer Boss’s secret fear of abject failure by focusing on how to assure his success, little bit by little bit, and thus hers by the same token.

“I never knew how important it was to figure out my boss’s psyche,” said Naomi. “I always thought my career was about how good I was at my job. Boy, have my eyes been opened! Now I see that half my job is scoping out who my boss really is underneath his bluster, and attend to that. Because only once I work my Finger Pointer Boss can I actually manage my career.”

Naomi’s insight was spot-on. As Naomi used her new-found knowledge and steadfastly employed the problem-solver-secret to working her Finger Pointer Boss, she was truly working her boss, and was now in a position to ask for her just rewards.


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