Every one of us has had to work with a manager or supervisor who was difficult to deal with. There are those overbearing micro managers who don’t trust us to do the jobs they hired us to do, there are those miserable managers who have no love at home and take out their frustrations on us and there are those managers who view their department as their own private army and treat us like insignificant subordinates as they claw their way to the top of the corporate heap.
Of course, there are those managers whose moods swing so forcefully that we are left standing with our mouths wide open, afraid to utter a word not knowing if they’ll throw something at us or offer us a hand shake.
So often when we have managers who have mood swings we like to call them bi polar. The clinical definition for bi polar according to the DSM IV can be found by following this link but we all know what we’re talking about here.
How do we survive working for a bi polar boss? The key is in understanding their perspective and stepping back from our own emotions.
Understanding Your Bi Polar Boss
Your boss could be bi polar, but there are other explanations for their erratic behavior.
1. You are annoying and so are the other 12 people in your department. Can you imagine being the ONE person that 22 grown ups run to for every little problem? They tattle on each other for every little thing and seem to forget simple rules and procedures that they were taught on their first day of employment. Your boss is dealing with at least a dozen personalities that are all as unique as hers and she has to change the way she speaks and explains things every single time a new face pops into her office with a question.
2. Your boss is human. Every human experiences differences in their range of emotions. If your boss shows up day in and day out with the same plastic smile on her face and speaks calmly and rationally every time, you can assume that she is a) newly in love and she’s not really paying any of you any attention or b) high on drugs.
What can you do?
Let her have her moments of despair or extreme jubilation. If you do not allow your boss’s moods to affect yours then you will have a better relationship with her. If she shows up screaming and crying over a mistake you made, its safe to assume that she recently made a mistake that she regrets and the negative energy that she is feeling about that is transferring over to your work.
Do not ever take anything she says personally. Your work performance does not define you as a person. Even if she tries to make you think it does, you do not have to defend yourself, just KNOW on the inside that it doesn’t and give her a blank look. Learn to say, “No problem.” to anything she asks you or tells you to do and she will come to respect you.
You are not at work to prove to your boss that you are equals. You are there to follow instructions and complete a task. Allow your boss to be the boss and do what she says the way she says it. You don’t have to be completely submissive but don’t try to buck the system to show off your smarts. A SMART employee knows how to be a good follower, without being a kiss-up.
She isn’t anyone special and neither are you. The company will still run and make money whether or not she is there or whether or not you are there. Your life doesn’t hinge on the success of this one position. Even though she may want you to believe it does, it really doesn’t. Just do your best and accept criticism with an open heart. Your financial stability does not come from this job. Your financial provision is a divine gift. This job is just ONE of the many ways that you can be taken care of in this lifetime. You have to trust that.
Relax. No job lasts forever. No situation is permanent. The more erratic your boss’s behavior is the more you know that she is unhappy in her personal life or feeling pressured by the demands of the company. Feel sorry for her. Help her out in extra ways if you can. Do something nice for the office or for her or give her ONE DAY where you don’t bother her with questions or annoy her with complaints. She needs a break and will surely appreciate it.
You can handle this situation once you realize that your boss is not a machine, she is a person and she is allowed the same ups and downs that you are. Give her space and give yourself time to separate your frustration with her from your frustration with your job. Chances are you LOVE your job but you dislike your boss. Let her go crazy everyday while you smile and say, “I’m glad I’m the employee and I don’t have her problems.”