My boss is unreasonable

25th January 2008 at 00:00
Being in the middle can be a difficult place, especially when there is pressure coming from managers above you. What happens when you have a bad - perhaps unreasonable, inefficient and bullying - line manager? There is a not much advice available on how to "manage up" and making the best of a bad boss.

First, do not fly off the handle and get into an angry confrontation about the way you are being treated. This will put you in the wrong, even if you weren't to start with. However upset and frustrated you are feeling, try to keep the dialogue calm and constructive.

If you need support, take a colleague or union representative with you into a meeting. Having a third person there who is willing to see your side of things can help to relax you and could put senior managers on their best behaviour. It alters the balance of power.

When your boss ignores all the good contributions that you are making towards the school, then you, the underling, must be the model of good practice. Remind your awkward line manager of the positive things about his or her work that you have noticed. If you lead in acknowledging good points, then your boss might copy your example. Saying something positive to each other will greatly increase the chance of ending conflict.

However, if your relationship remains persistently acrimonious and you feel bullied and disempowered, start keeping dated notes of your interchanges. If the situation slips into a grievance scenario, the detail of what has been said and done will become important.

Paul Blum, Senior manager in a London school.

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