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4 tips to deal with an overly demanding boss

Dealing with a demanding boss is a no-win dilemma. And if your boss is a workaholic – short deadlines, unreasonable demands, expectations to respond 24/7 to calls, texts and emails and sacrificing your weekend might be a part of your ‘regular’ work schedule.

Most jobs are demanding, but some bosses go too far by putting unnecessary pressure on their employees. No matter if he or she is a micromanager or isn’t very competent, you still have to make the best of the situation and get the work done.

Don’t be riddled with the anxiety of failing to measure up to your boss’ impossible standards. Instead, use these four tips to set boundaries and take action even if you feel intimidated!

Stay calm

Stop fixating on missed targets or publicly announcing the deadlines you’ve missed. While it may be true, expressing feelings of “being swamped with work” or letting your boss know that work is coming in quicker than it can be completed, only urges a sense of alarm that may lead to even longer hours.

Being good at your job doesn’t mean working more; it means getting quick results. At the beginning of each day, make a list of what you want to accomplish, including starting with assignments that require more hours, and at the end of the workday assess your list and figure out what to prioritise the following day.

Be a problem solver

Being managed by a workaholic supervisor can also mean that you fall prey to his/her ways of working, or picking up a few unhealthy work habits. A smart way to avoid it is by calling attention to the need for improved systems and processes. Try using open-ended questions, such as “How can we come up with a more efficient way to do this?” or “What would help promote more work-life balance among our staff?” Thoughtful inquiries like these encourage your boss to think creatively instead of relying on habitual responses.

It doesn’t stop here – you’ve got to offer realistic solutions too. For instance, ask for a cut-off time to respond to emails, or realistic deadlines to be set and a reasonable division of work. You need to know that for some bosses everything is a priority, and you have to reassure them that you understand that.

Set daily goals and expectations

When being given a task, you first need to identify where that task sits on your priority list. Talk to your team or discuss with your boss if that task must be prioritised before anything else. This helps to set clear expectations at the very beginning. You must do a ‘reality check’ and see how it affects other deliverables. This is an effective way to avoid setting unrealistic expectations at work.

Talk to your boss

This is probably the trickiest part of the process. Begin by putting down pain points that you want to highlight in this conversation with your boss. Here’s how you can approach that meeting:

Don’t delay: The moment you suspect your boss is overrating your capacity to get the job done, speak up.

Relax and be confident: Telling your boss you’re anticipating challenges meeting his or her expectations may feel like accepting failure, but it’s not. Approach this conversation with confidence and your boss will see that your concerns are coming from experience, not insecurity or inability.

Go with an action plan: It’s one thing to voice a concern, but when a deadline is at stake, a quick solution is what’s really needed. If you know your boss is asking too much, it’s fine to speak up because your task list will back you up. Do make sure you have some alternatives ready. Maybe it’s extending the deadline for another assignment or seeking the help of a few colleagues with more experience. No matter what you do, don’t go to your boss without a clear solution or suggestions.

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