How to Deal with a Demanding Boss: Tips and Tricks
Molly Hitchens studied business for years before launching her career as a journalist and analyst specializing in original and innovative business planning. She shares her expertise through her work with The Idea Trader as well as through in-person speaking engagements at universities around the country.
Just about everyone in the world has a boss that they have to answer to. Even Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and the richest man currently living, has to answer to the company’s board of directors, as well as the company’s private shareholders.
And for better or worse, bosses can be demanding. That’s just the way things are. After all, they want to see the company succeed, and that often requires asking a lot from the company’s employees.
But not every employee is ready to perform at high levels consistently for weeks and months on end.
Having an especially demanding boss can lead to workplace stress, as well as anxiety in your home life and free time.
So what are you to do? A demanding boss shouldn’t make you want to find employment elsewhere immediately.
Here’s how to deal with a demanding boss, along with some tips for how to manage the extra stress and anxiety that can come with the situation as a whole.
Maybe your boss has been asking a lot of you lately. Or maybe they’ve been criticizing your work to a significant extent, hopefully in a very respectful manner.
Before having an emotional reaction to such criticism, try to realize that it’s the boss’s job to analyze and criticize the work performance of their employees.
It’s just part of having a professional career, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are launching a personal attack against you, although that’s not outside of the realm of possibility.
So before you tell others about what’s been going on, take some time to analyze your own work. Have you been meeting deadlines lately? Have you been distracted from your work?
These can be difficult questions to face, but they’re crucial to gaining a better understanding of your situation and making a plan for the future.
Don’t let an intense or overbearing boss affect your professional demeanor at work. Try to refrain from complaining to other coworkers or even family members and friends at first.
If you find yourself getting emotionally worked up when your boss asks you to complete demanding tasks, take a few deep breaths and focus solely on the work itself.
You may even want to drink some coffee or follow other personal concentration habits that will help you keep your head down and work hard.
Never snap at your boss or get too emotional at your place of work. If you need a break, try taking a personal day to relax and recharge. When you return to work, you’ll be more motivated to tackle large tasks.
Every good boss keeps lines of communication open.
But many bosses or supervisors also have demanding and busy schedules of their own that may limit the amount of time that they can allot to speaking with employees about their performance.
If you don’t already have a job performance review on the horizon, politely ask your boss to arrange a time when you can both sit down and calmly discuss your situation and the difficulty you’ve been having meeting deadlines.
You may be surprised to find that your boss is more than willing to have an honest conversation about the expectations for your role within the company.
It could be that your boss is still operating under the assumptions they had when your role was being filled by a different employee.
Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and expectations need to be adjusted accordingly, within reason.
If your boss seems unwilling to cooperate and have a frank discussion about your job performance, then you may need to consider other options.
Speak With Experienced Coworkers
Depending on your situation, there are likely other employees within your office or company who have been there much longer than you have.
And depending on how long your boss has been in their current role, your coworkers may know your boss much better than you do, just based on experience.
Find a coworker you trust and respect and ask to speak with them for a few minutes. This is your opportunity to ask whether this is how your boss usually operates.
Try your best not to turn the conversation into an opportunity to complain about your boss. These kinds of conversations may feel like a relief in the moment but do not offer any significant solutions.
Ask your coworker whether they have also experienced similar situations in the past. It could be that your boss is demanding regardless of which employee they happen to be interacting with in that moment.
You can also ask your coworker whether they’ve noticed that your work performance has been slipping lately.
Getting a third-party perspective of the situation can be invaluable.
Up Your Game
If you’ve given yourself plenty of time for contemplation on your work performance and you’ve found it to be lacking, then you should focus on improving the quality of your work.
Limit distractions in the workplace like chatting casually with other employees or listening to music while you work.
Keep your breaks to a minimum and ask for help when you don’t know how to do something.
You may find that all you needed to do was focus more intently on your work. Your boss is likely to notice your renewed efforts and appreciate your hard work.
Explore Alternative Employment
Whether you’ve found that your boss is being unfairly demanding or simply that you can’t keep up with the pace of your deadlines, your last resort should be looking for a new job.
Finding new employment can take a lot of time and effort, and it can be difficult to attend job interviews when you’re still employed with your current company.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the only option if your current job has become untenable. And if at all possible, do not leave your current job until you have secured a new job elsewhere.
It may just be that you’re not well-suited for a demanding work environment. It’s important to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and find a job that fits them well.