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How To Deal With a Boss That Is Narcissistic

If we haven’t had to work for one, we’ve seen others who have. It’s the boss who thinks their team is working for them instead of the company. I’ve seen such high levels of narcissism where a boss has specifically told people that they didn’t care what the company policies say or what the mission statement is. The order was simple: “I’m the boss and you’ll do as I say.”

It can be very difficult to deal with a narcissistic boss. Difficult, but not impossible. Here’s how I’ve worked on coping with this situation in the past and the insights I’ve gleaned from those experiences.

#1. Take care of yourself first. I’ve found that the first thing which tends to disappear when I’m around a boss that is narcissistic is my self-esteem. Without confidence, the narcissism you see every day will wear you down and eventually conquer you. Find an outlet outside of work that can help you deal with these difficult emotions. I’ve found this can really add to my resilience so I don’t end up losing myself in the stresses of the day.

#2. Cater to the ego. Until you find a new place to work, you’ll have to deal with the narcissism on a daily basis. Sometimes I’ve found the best way to handle that is to feed the ego. You don’t necessarily need to be come a “Yes” person, but a little flattery will take you a long way. Narcissists are good at smelling out a pretender, so look for something that you authentically admire and offer that as a compliment.

#3. Take the best out of what you see. I’ve discovered that everyone has moments of perfection which hover around them – even narcissistic bosses. Observe them. See the good things that they do. Find the best and then do your best to emulate it. Communication and vision tend to be two strengths of these bosses in particular, and those attributes are something worth developing within yourself.

#4. Be careful about challenges. Criticism is something a narcissistic boss will never accept. I’ve seen this time and time again. Even a simple challenge, like offering a sandwich for lunch when the boss wants pasta, can be enough to give you a 3 week headache. Remember this: your boss cares about what is good for them. They couldn’t care less about what affects the company unless it’s something that will boost their power, money, or influence.

#5. Avoid the gossip. I’ve seen narcissistic bosses stay at the office for 12 hours every day just to make sure there isn’t anything bad being said about them. Narcissism encourages paranoia, so even if you have the appearance of gossiping about the boss, this perception will become a reality and make your professional life difficult.

Ultimately you’ll need to determine if working for this boss is the right decision for you. Sometimes you can put up with the narcissism, but sometimes it can send you home angry every day and affect every other aspect of life. If you don’t love what you do, then trust me – make a healthy choice and consider leaving. There might be uncertainty at first, but eventually you can find a job… and a boss that you love.

What Is the Right Way To Encourage Accountability?

 

Trying to hold people accountable for their results is often a negative cycle that spirals into an end result of at least one worker leaving a company. When results aren’t achieved, the worker responsible offers an excuse. That excuse makes a supervisor angry because now they’re held accountable for the lack of results. That anger then reduces motivation, which reduces productivity, and at the end of the day you have a group of people acting passive-aggressively with one another.

How you can make sure that you’re encouraging accountability in a positive way? Through the use of structure. Here are some of the key points you’ll want to look at and discuss as you develop an accountability structure.

#1. How do I set clear expectations?

If there is uncertainty about a task which must be completed or a metric which must be met, then it is difficult to hold someone accountable to a specific standard. There are responsibilities on both sides of this equation. Workers must be encouraged to ask questions if they are unsure and not feel like they will be retaliated against for those questions. Specific expectations and standards must also be issued so outcomes can be tracked.

#2. Where are the right people for the job?

Whose fault is it if results aren’t achieved when the tasks were assigned to someone without the necessary skill set? Is it the fault of the worker… or the fault of the person who assigned the task to an unskilled worker? There must be a plan in place which gives skill-orientated tasks to the people who have the knowledge and wisdom necessary to complete them.

#3. What will measure success?

Far too often, workers are told they have failed when they were expecting to be told that they had succeeded. When there isn’t a clear set of measurements or standards in place so success can be specifically defined, then it is difficult to know what issues might exist within a team. Defined targets allow you to work with people who may be slipping.

#4. Is anyone providing feedback?

The problem with feedback is that people often wish to avoid conflict with one another. This is especially true for supervisors who feel like they have a difficult direct report who doesn’t want to listen to them. Yet without honest feedback that is open and ongoing, there is no real way to set out the clear expectations which are needed for an environment which encourages accountability. Don’t make things personal when giving feedback. Just offer the facts.

#5. What kind of consequences should there be?

Accountability isn’t going to be effective if there isn’t a consequence for a failure to meet expectations. There should also be positive consequences for those who are accountable and meet expectations. You basically have 3 choices: rewards, repetition, or release. Without clarity in this area, there won’t be any desire to be accountable because there is no reason, either positive or negative, to try to meet the goals which have been put into place.

Encouraging accountability must be more than just an angry statement that occurs when failure happens. It must occur on both sides of the aisle so that the right people are doing the right job with clear expectations. With open communication, honest feedback, and traceable metrics in place, the negative cycles can be eliminated so that productivity can remain where it needs to be.

8 Ways To Recognize Burnout In Yourself

 At one point last year, I worked for over 100 straight days. At first, the idea of being ultra-productive was inspiring to me. It felt like I was taking charge of my world, influencing others in positive ways, and that was an amazing feeling indeed. Over time, however, those feelings started to go away. Instead of feeling inspired, I was beginning to dread the alarm waking me in the morning.

There were some days I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder what I was doing. Then I would grab some coffee and get to work. At the time I didn’t recognize it, but this was clearly I sign that I was headed to burnout.

In retrospect, there were a lot of warning signs that were telling me that it was time to take a few days off to take care of myself. Are you experiencing any of these burnout symptoms right now?

#1. 100% Exhaustion. Do you get 8 hours of awesome sleep, but wake up tired? That happened to me a lot. I made up a lot of excuses about this fact and compensated with caffeine, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt physically and emotionally tired.

#2. Poor Eating Choices. I started replacing vegetables with potato chips. The potato chips eventually got replaced with Twinkies. Coconut water turned to soda, which turned to energy drinks. When you’re tired, you try to eliminate that feeling by consuming high sugar, low calorie foods and for me, every substitute made me feel worse, so I’d compensate with an even worse eating choice.

#3. You Never Relax. Even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about working. I could stress myself out thinking about a deadline that was more than a week away. The number of headaches I started to get could be tracked daily near the end of my 100+ day stretch.

#4. Fun Disappears. I could plan fun activities, but they didn’t seem fun. The only real enjoyment I remember having during that massive stretch of work was when I was actually working. I felt out of place if I wasn’t working and that prevented me from being able to relax.

#5. Insomnia. I’m not one for racing thoughts in my mind 24/7, but after awhile that started to happen when I’d try to get to sleep. I’d plot out my work for the next day. I’d think about the things I could have changed over the course of the day. I’d worry about what others were thinking about me. Eventually I had to put a white noise machine into my bedroom to give my mind something else to focus on while I tried to get to sleep.

#6. Always Irritable. I was buying groceries one day near the end of my 100+ day stretch. It was taking longer than normal to scan the items. “Can’t you hurry it up?” I asked impatiently at one point. The cashier gave me a strange look. Then she told me it would be $101.97. I remember that specifically because I then snapped. I’d expected it to be $80… but I’d grabbed two steaks and forgot about that. Irritability and burnout go hand in hand.

#7. Isolation. I could recognize that I was irritable. I felt like people didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. That’s when I started to isolate. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to hurt others. The fact is I was isolating because I didn’t trust anyone but myself to get the work done.

#8. Negative Work Quality. There was also a distinct decline in the quality of my work once I reached the end of my 100+ day stretch of work. It’s what eventually caused me to give myself a thorough evaluation. If I didn’t give myself a break, then the potential was there to lose a lot of business.

Burnout is something we often joke about, but I discovered that suffering from burnout is no laughing matter. Give yourself an honest evaluation today. Are you suffering from these symptoms? If you are, then burnout could be right around the corner.

Are there symptoms of burnout that you have recognized in your life? What are they and how do you cope with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this important subject.

3 Ways You Can Conquer Your Next Networking Event

One of the challenges I found when advancing up the corporate ladder of success was the need to be networking. As much as I’d like to take credit for all of my successes, the fact is that other people were also influential in my ability to get a job done. We all need a network of people to help us every day as we continue along a path of advancement.

That first networking event made me so nervous. Forget about just having sweaty palms. I was pretty sure there was sweat dripping down my sleeves. I thought for sure everyone would see me as a rookie, an inexperienced manager at best, and that I would ruin my chances of further advancement before I’d even settled into a new position. That nervousness propelled me to look at how others have conquered networking and it lead me to develop my 3 steps to networking success.

Preparation won’t take away the nerves, but it can make them manageable. Here’s what I do.

Step #1: Know How You’re Different

I often thought that I needed to be just like everyone else in order to be successful. When you blend in, you become a team player. That might work well for job security, but I’ve found that does very little for networking. If you want to conquer your next networking event, then you need to find what sets you apart from everyone else on a professional level.

Your passionate love for German Shepherds might make for some interesting small talk, but that won’t help you form a long-term networking relationship. No one has your exact experiences. Take the most intriguing parts of your personal story and use them to spark incredible conversations. By knowing how you’re different, you’ll know how you can begin to network.

Step #2: Be a Niche Expert

People network professionally because they want to increase their levels of influence within their own circles. This causes them to seek out experts, both locally and globally thanks to sites like LinkedIn, because outside expertise becomes their expertise. I’ve found that when you know everything there is to know about your part of your industry, no matter how large or small that section happens to be, then you become influential.

“What do you do?” is a come ice-breaker question at a networking event. This is the perfect time to offer your niche expertise. “I manage a landscaping business where we transform unused space into natural masterpieces.” It really only takes once polished sentence to convey that you know what you’re talking about.

Step #3: Take Command

There will always be leaders and there will always be followers. It seems like everyone at a networking event wants to be a leader, but that is only a surface observation. I’ve been to dozens of networking events and I can tell you that most people would rather be at home or they’re attending because there is an open bar.

If you want to form a networking relationship, then take it. Offer your expertise in exchange for your central positioning. Host networking events instead of attending them as you grow more comfortable with this process. Become the “go-to” person everyone else wants to have on their team.

Conquering a networking event isn’t easy to do, especially when you’re first getting started. With enough preparation, however, I can attest that you can do anything. Take the first step today. It could be something as simple as starting a Facebook group. When you show that your experiences are valuable, you’ll be able to have people come to you.

Once I discovered that truth, gone were the sweaty palms. Adopt these steps and hopefully you’ll conquer your next event.

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