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Coping with the Ogre – Strategies for Managing a Mean Boss


Nearly every workplace has at least one “ogre”. This is a manager who appears to be mean as a rattlesnake for no apparent reason. You may have a tendency to avoid this type of manager at all costs, because of not-so-pleasant interactions you’ve experienced in the past. This is a boss who has a reputation that precedes him or her, leaving co-workers shaking in their boots at the very thought of upsetting this volatile volcano.

A 6-Step Strategy for Dealing with an Ogre Boss

If you’ve had it up to here with a mean boss, it’s time to take steps to learn how to deal with this type of manager and develop a strategy for improving your relationship in the process. The truth is, this manager is probably a real pussycat in disguise, and may not be as much of a meanie as you may think – once you learn to relate better.

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  1. Observe your manager’s habits, likes and dislikes.  The sooner you learn what your manager’s work habits, likes and dislikes are, the sooner you will be able to get to know what makes your boss tick. Just like you, your manager may not be a morning person, so don’t waltz into their office first thing with problems. If your manager schedules team meetings, be prepared and show up on time.
  2. Learn your boss’s communication style. Sometimes, the challenge with a manager simply comes from their unique communication style. For example, a manager can become annoyed by long-winded explanations of things, or when the facts have not been gathered first. Some managers may communicate better in writing than verbally. See what gets you the best response and stick with that.
  3. Separate work criticism from your personal feelings. A manager’s job is to help make employees more effective at theirs. This often means providing constructive criticism. If you find that you are getting upset after every interaction with your boss, take a moment to consider if you are taking everything to heart or listening to what your manager is telling you.
  4. Get to the root of your boss’s difficulties. Managers are often overworked, underpaid, and stressed to the max. They too have bosses to answer to, and this can lead to them being short with others, or not being responsive in a positive way. Think about what’s going on in your manager’s life and this many help you to see that they are not intentionally trying to be mean; it’s just the way they deal with things.
  5. Be your own problem-solver at work. If you find that your boss answers you abruptly or negatively, it could be a sign that you need to learn how to solve your own work problems. Use your mind to come up with solutions and try to present those instead of problems all the time. This will be welcomed by your manager, because you make him look good.
  6. Demonstrate your work ethics to your boss. Managers can get irritated by employees who don’t arrive to work on time or unprepared, have poor work habits, or just slack off too much on the company dollar. You may find that you fall into one of these categories. If so, step up your game and learn to be a more committed worker to win your boss’s favor.

Oftentimes, the way in which we perceive a manager is that they are out to get us or make our lives miserable at the office. Yet, this is not the case. Your boss may have a few good reasons for being mean at times. If you find that you are not getting along with your manager, after trying the above strategy, don’t be afraid to speak in confidence to your human resources department for help on improving your relationship with your boss.

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Tess C. Taylor
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