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Tuesday29 July 2014

Dear Matthew: "My boss is a nightmare"

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BD’s agony uncle offers his advice on how to deal with difficult bosses

Q: My boss is a nightmare. He constantly gives me impossible deadlines, undermines me in front of clients, forgets to give me vital information, and then blames me when he considers the results not good enough.

Should I tell him I think he is unreasonable? Generally, I like our office, and I don’t want the sack.

Matthew Turner

A: Our relationship with our bosses can completely make or break our enjoyment of work. When they are not good, we are hugely inefficient, as well as emotionally strained.

No one really gets much training in being a boss, and they often aren’t there for their people-management ability, but for other skills, which perhaps don’t face you much.

Two fundamental things tend to be the cause: a lack of trust, and clashing personalities. So, if you value staying in this office, you need to engage in boss management. You have three choices: work round your boss (grin and bear it), work with them (identify and then solve their problems) or subtly try and change them.

Whichever you choose, keep calm, and avoid flaring up if at all possible. When delivering feedback, present it without accusation, as cause and effect, along with a suggested course of action. That is: “when you do A, it means I have to do B, the result is C. How about we try X,
I am pretty sure this will have Y advantage.” If you want to make a real point, then you could add “if we carry on without changing, Z will happen”.

Of course, your boss might just be a nightmare. People running their own shows often do so precisely because they could never stand working for others, and many architects pride themselves on being uncompromising. Whatever your situation, try and approach your boss with solutions, not just problems. Its a pretty odd boss who doesn’t nurture someone with a positive approach.

Architect Matthew Turner of buildingonarchitecture.com has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror

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