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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.

Why You Can Expect Success When You Dress For It

Have you ever noticed that people treat you differently when you “dress up” for the day? You also treat yourself differently when you dress in your best. Your productivity goes up, your confidence goes up, and your self-esteem increases. That doesn’t mean you can close a deal if you’re wearing casual clothes, but it does mean that you may have a tougher journey ahead of you if you prefer hoodies and sweats to suits and ties.

If you don’t like the idea of dressing up every day for work like you’re going to a church with your grandparents, there are some small tweaks you can make to your wardrobe that can still give your these benefits. Would one of these ideas work for you?

#1. Make a small change to your accessories. Something as simple as wearing a nice watch or a favorite piece of jewelry can make all the difference in the world. Maybe you can’t afford a Rolex or 24K earrings that are studded with diamonds, but you can put on your best and rock it. If that means you’re wearing a sterling silver chain from Kohl’s, then so be it.

#2. Add one formal element to your outfit. Maybe you don’t want to wear a tie. You could choose to wear just the jacket and still get some of these benefits. You can even customize your look a little bit if you wish. If there isn’t a policy against wearing a lapel pin to work, throw on that Hydra pin you got from your Lootcrate awhile ago and see what happens.

#3. Take it up a notch for your big moments. If you’re closing a multi-million dollar deal, then dress in your very best for that day only. When you take your wardrobe up a notch for your biggest moments, you’re mentally preparing yourself for success. According to a study published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, people who dressed in their best could earn 3x more profit on the deals they were making and required 3x fewer concessions to make it happen. If you think you can dominate, then you will.

#4. A change of color can create a change of attitude. Ever notice how looking at a beautiful green lawn can relax you? Or how looking at reds and oranges can make you feel energetic? Sometimes the easiest way to plan for success at work is think about what the color of your wardrobe says to others. There’s a reason why politicians like to wear a white shirt with a red tie. It says they are confident and can do anything. You can do the same thing.

#5. Success really comes from you. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg prove that sometimes it isn’t what you wear, but what you expect that counts. If you’re in a creative enterprise, sometimes dressing in sweats and a t-shirt is the best way to dress for success.

Even the quality of what you wear can help boost your chances of finding the success you want. Think cashmere and fine wool. Have your clothing tailored if you can. In doing so, you’ll have the confidence to close any deal – and your grandparents will think you look awesome too.

How You Can Stop Passive Aggressive Behavior At Work For Good

“Are you a team player?”

It’s a question that is commonly asked during the interview process for almost every job on the planet. Hiring managers want to make sure that you’re not going to create conflict and reduce productivity. The only problem with this is that it has led to a lack of needed conflict on teams. We need to be able to openly air disagreements on ideas so the cream of the crop can rise to the surface. Conflict can actually foster better productivity.

When that conflict is not allowed, the result is team members stuffing their dissatisfaction internally. It begins to fester there, growing into a massive beast of hatred over time. Eventually these negative feelings must come out, which is when your team begins to see passive-aggressive behaviors. When you’ve reached the point of sarcastic comments and sabotage, then you’re in the danger zone of losing everything.

The good news is that it is never too late to solve the problem of passive-aggressiveness. Here’s how you can begin to stop it from rearing its ugly head starting today.

#1. Put a light on the elephant in the room. Acknowledge the feelings of dissatisfaction and hatred that people on the team are having. Take time out of your schedule, go to a neutral site, and then set ground rules about how to discuss dissension without being hurtful. Everyone on the team is valuable – otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place. You want all of their opinions. Make this fact known and be very clear about it.

#2. Make time for dissent in every conversation. Don’t allow dissatisfaction to be stuffed so it can fester. Ask team members in every conversation if there is some level of dissent about what is going on. You can do this by turning it into a devil’s advocate discussion. “How might someone want to criticize this idea?” or “What problems would someone potentially see if we implement this idea today?” This gives people a safe way to express their dissent without necessarily taking ownership of it, reliving the feelings of dissatisfaction.

#3. Give equal time to all opinions. Feedback is critical for a team to be consistently successful. Just because there is a dissenting opinion doesn’t mean that the dissent is incorrect. Explore that feedback and take whatever value you find out of it and use it to everyone’s advantage. You’ll always have people who want to disagree because that’s how they have fun at work, but even these folks have moments of inspiration that can be gleaned from their dissenting feedback. Take this seriously and your production levels will soar.

#4. Identify passive-aggressive behavior and confront it every time you see it. This is where many team members get into trouble. They have no problem calling out passive-aggressive behavior, but they’re not willing to offer solutions to fix the issue. When you confront this behavior, practice alternatives that are healthier for the team. Then give people a chance to express their dissent.

#5. Stop the back-channel sarcasm. This is where most efforts to reduce passive-aggressiveness tend to fail. Team members may gather for drinks after work, talk during a lunch break, or IM each other on Facebook over the weekend to feed their passive aggression. If you hear complaints outside of a team meeting, ask people to bring up their concerns there. Ask for new information. A team doesn’t have to 100% agree on everything, but they do need to be on the same page.

Passive-aggressiveness can be very costly. Not only does it cause a team to reduce their overall production, but it also creates high amounts of anxiety and stress for everyone involved. Be open, be honest, and most of all be direct about dissent and conflict when you see it and you’ll begin to reduce the passive-aggressive tendencies of your team over time.

Why Having a Boring Manager Is the Best Thing Ever

Many organizations tend to look for managers that are full of flash and pizzazz. They want someone who can make an immediate impact, look good while doing it, and inspire others to follow along with a vision for the future. Instead of looking for a competent manager, the goal is often to find a confident one instead.

Managers are given their title for one basic reason – they manage. It’s not something that provides a lot of excitement. When there is a boring manager in place, in fact, there is a good chance that everyone is going to have the best opportunities possible to succeed. Here are the traits that this group of management professionals have in common.

#1. They are emotionally mature. Boring managers aren’t going to fret about the past because it has already happened. They aren’t going to worry about the future because it hasn’t been written. The only thing they are concerned about is how each present task gets completed. This provides them with more stability and emotional maturity because anxiety is virtually eliminated from the equation.

#2. They encouraged others to be better every day. Boring managers also focus on the people who they are tasked with managing on an individualized basis. The goal is to develop each person in a way that is uniquely suited to that individual so they can be more productive, more experienced, and eventually ready to take on the mantle of being a boring manager themselves one day.

#3. They take criticism as feedback instead of a personal attack. Criticism can be difficult to take sometimes, especially when there is a personal investment in the action being criticized. Boring managers will take this as information they can use in the future to improve themselves and their team. Instead of a negative emotional reaction, they listen for the good that can be taken from that information and then they work to apply it.

#4. They let their people do their own job. Boring managers don’t get involved with the daily tasks that their people need to complete. They also don’t get involved in everyone’s personal drama. That’s because they are proactively solving the people problems on their team so they don’t become a distraction. They can do these because they aren’t reacting to the overwhelming communication cues that surround them every day – they are problem-solving instead.

#5. They have integrity. Boring managers are predictable and that’s a great thing because one always knows what to expect from them. If this type of manager makes a promise, then you know that promise will be fulfilled. They support their team, stand up for what is right, and this encourages negativity to stay away.

A team of employees will slowly adapt their own personal traits to those which they observe from their manager. That’s ultimately why having a boring manager in place is the best thing ever. You can have confidence in the competence this person has in their ability to run their team, even if there is no pizzazz to the process.

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