How to work around your bosses weaknesses

No one is perfect.  That can be hard to deal with when relating to the boss, especially when you have to make up for that person’s weaknesses every day.  But there are ways around some tendencies that can make the working relationship easier to take.  Let’s delve into some common weaknesses and talk work arounds.

Boss #1:  Easily overwhelmed

One of the most frustrating things to deal with is the boss that’s easily overwhelmed.  Frankly, working in TV news is overwhelming all the time.  Then, to cap it off, you get a boss that’s not cutting it.  The best thing you can do is avoid running to this person with your own issues, unless they are crucial for the newscast.  Basically, this is not the boss to brainstorm with if you hit a dead end and need to go in a new direction on a story.  This is not the manager to talk with about rundown scenarios.  When breaking news hits, this is not the manager you ask for help if you are in the weeds.  You come to this person with legal questions and potential liability issues.  Otherwise, you need to call an assignment editor or producer first and ask if the person is slamming before you talk any other scenarios.  No sense in calling and getting yelled at and told to figure it out when this person is at maximum capacity.  If you are really in a bind call a manager that tends to be less busy that time of day.  Just explain that the person you usually call is slamming.  The two managers can hash it out later.  At least you can get your work done in peace.

Boss #2: Panic monger

The panic monger is another interesting manager to deal with.  Over time I learned that this is not the same as the easily overwhelmed type.  This person lives on the adrenaline rush of panicking constantly.  This is the manager you call when you need to get a piece edited, fed in or to legal and it’s not happening in a timely manner.  This person will take on the request then annoy the hell out of whomever necessary to get it done.  This is a good thing, unless you are the one “slacking” over what needs to get done.  If you are getting barraged with calls the best thing to do is give the panic monger something tangible to hold onto.  “I can get you that in 30 minutes.” Or perhaps:  “I have 5 more calls to make before I can answer your question.”  This usually helps the panic monger calm down a bit, so you can actually get the task done.  Another option is to have the panic monger help you with the task.  Sometimes I would say: “I am too slammed to answer that right now, but if you want to help me get the c block written quickly, I can make that my next priority.”  Often the panic monger will dive in, because he/she desperately wants their task handled.

Boss #3: Super moody

Ah, pick a mood any mood.  Two big things to keep in mind:  Moods change and there often is a pattern or trigger that sets the moods off.  Once you understand the mood will change, it is easier to blow it off when you are snapped at or given a lecture seemingly out of left field.  Just sit through it then move on.  See if the sentiment is repeated when Mr. or Ms. “Super Moody” is calmer.  Then it’s clear you need to take notice.

Stop and think about it.  Do you get chewed out or lectured at the same time every day?  Is it only on Tuesday’s right after management meetings?  Often you are just the whipping post.  Take the lecture with a grain of salt, wait until the person is calmer then ask for a follow up conversation to make sure you are clear on what the manager needs from you.  Time and time again, I had moody managers say: “I said that?  No, you are fine.”  While annoying, at least I knew for sure I was not in trouble or not performing to expectation.

Boss #4: Hot tempered

Some managers are more than moody.  They are hot tempered and need anger management.  Screamers, belittlers, bullies:  No fun!  Screamers, unfortunately, are common in this industry.  (Check out  Stop the Screaming for more on how to handle that lovely personality trait.)  As for the be-littler and bully types, I had the best luck standing up to them.  I would try one on one first.  If that did not work, then I stood up for myself in front of a small group.  Yes, this is a bit risky but if you can’t take their crap anymore it can be worth it.  Bullies fear being bullied and they usually back down.

Boss #5: The Delegator

This trait can be the most maddening of all.  You have all kinds of work to do, then get half of the boss’ job handed to you too!  He/she delegates to you, so you then delegate to someone else.  When the manager asks what’s up with “XYZ?” tell them to ask so and so.  When the manager says I assigned it to you, say “I had responsibilities directly tied to my position that I had to take care of first, so I made sure your work was handled as well.”  In other words turn the tables a bit.  This is really crucial if you are a very responsible and efficient worker.  If you suck it up and do all your work plus this boss’s extras you will end up burned out and very resentful.  At some point all of us reach our limit, and this boss will take you to the point of no return if you don’t nip the delegating a bit.  Delegators take advantage.  Just pass the work on, and send the message you are on to the game.  If you don’t have anyone to pass the work on to, then do your job first.  If there’s time, you can attempt to do some of the delegated work.  Don’t get all the delegated work done regularly though, or your work load will permanently increase.

The largest takeaway from all of this though, is that everyone has weaknesses.  That includes you and me!  Be cognizant of the impact you have on others around you, and try to play to your boss’s strengths, while minimizing the impact of their weaknesses.  That should help avoid their weaknesses and maybe even help you keep your own weaknesses under better control.