how to survive perfectionist boss until a new job offer comes
September 7, 2011 5:53 PM Subscribe
My boss is brilliant at what he does - except for the management part. He is highly critical of himself and others, has little to no people skills, and he's making me miserable. It's making me self-doubt my abilities and the negativity is creeping into my personal life. What can I do to deal with my perfectionist boss while I make my exit strategy?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have already tried discussing the issues with my boss, tried different methods of working with him, and tried using other co-workers' methods of dealing with him. It's not working out and it's not a good fit.
I am looking for other jobs. In the meanwhile, how can I deal with the constant criticisms while keeping my confidence and sanity in tact? Especially given the heavy workload and tight timeline?
I feel like I'm either being set up for failure or work my life away to meet an impossible standard. This is the first time in my career that I have a manager who wasn't at least pleased with my work, all my previous managers had glowing reviews about me.
He thinks we can have it all (all pros and no cons) if I can just be smart enough with my work... but after letting him try it out, he'll realize the challenges, make up a solution (a variation of my previous proposals), and then downplay the previous cons that were such a HUGE deal. His directions, verbally or written, tend to be vague or easily misinterpreted because he spends 3 seconds in thinking or writing it. It's literally a line in an email for a task with no context. Given his aggressive timeline and his micromanagement style, tasks / projects are either delayed or they get done but then he'll be displeased with the outcome because he wasn't heavily involved (see first sentence of this paragraph).
I'm beginning to doubt myself - a lot. It didn't hit me until I was at the grocergy store and was debating on what type of tomato to buy for 10 mins, all because I was terrified of making the wrong choice! My boss has criticism for everything, from big things to small, trivial things. The fact that other people was able to tolerate this work environment for years doesn't help me feel any better about my abilities or my political savviness.
I'm fully resenting him now. He's high achiever, produce great individual work, and in a very senior position at a relatively young age in mid-size company. Yet I can no longer focus on what's so great about him, what I can learn from him, etc., only his bad qualities. This is not the person I want to be.
Intellectually, I know certain criticisms I should just ignore (e.g. his criticism of us using grey highlight in Excel to show an item is completed) while others got merits (e.g. how to better communicate with engineers). However, the sheer number of criticisms is making me doubt my abilities and even if I'm in the right career field anymore. I think he offered me a job only because I was the only candidate.
He seems to think the work his direct reports produce is a direct reflection of him, thus, sometimes holds a higher standard to us than to himself. He'll tell me that I need to shape up because I don't reply to his email or I didn't do X like he said in his email. When I look into it, it's because he either sent the email to the wrong person (typo) or because he sent it while I was on vacation and I just got back.
Talking with him about these issues only bring in change for about a day. From what I can see, other coworkers have learned to either develop thick skin or avoid contact with him as much as possible. Owners don't care, they're trying to sell the company.