April 21, 2010
I’ve had so many questions lately about how to deal with bad bosses that I’ve decided to create a four-part series focused on that topic. I’ve created four different fictional bosses and I’ll explain their work style along with tips on how to deal with them. Part 3 of the “So Your Boss is a Jerk, Now What?” series is focused on dealing with “Mike the Egomaniac.”
Characteristics of “Mike the Egomaniac”:
- Mike the Egomaniac begins almost every conversation by talking about himself or telling a story about what he did over the weekend.
- He speaks loudly and fast, uses his arms (and almost his entire body!) when talking, and has a flair for the dramatic.
- Mike the egomaniac is one of the best dressers in the company and isn’t afraid to wear bright colors or eye-catching patterns.
- He is filled with seemingly never-ending energy, almost to the point of overwhelming certain colleagues with quieter, slower-paced natures.
- Egomaniac Mike believes he’s gotten to where he is now because of his brilliance and dazzling personality.
- Sitting through long meetings with long-winded discussions is sheer torture for Mike the Egomaniac, who likes to “cut to the chase” on topics. And, when he gets bored in meetings he begins side conversations.
Tips for dealing with a boss like “Mike the Egomaniac”:
- Flex: Acknowledge that not everyone has the same style at work and try your best to flex to his style. Flexing to a work style like Mike the Egomaniac means you’ll need to pick up your own pace and speak louder in order to better match their pace and volume. By doing so, it will also help you pick up your energy level to be in better harmony with theirs.
- Be personal: Be prepared to begin most conversations with a personal discussion about…them. Realize there’s probably no getting around this and that if you try to change the subject and dive straight into a work topic, then Mike the Egomaniac will merely steer the conversation back to himself very quickly. To get to the main discussion, you must take the time to get through the “him” topic first.
- Exude confidence: Even if you don’t necessarily feel confident, try your best to speak with confidence around Mike the Egomaniac. This is because he appreciates working with people he believes are the most like himself and has a tendency to look down on those who speak slowly and quietly and thus come across as being unsure of themselves.
- Focus on the big picture and the “WIIFM”: When it comes to styles like Mike the Egomaniac, skip explaining the small details and go straight to the big picture. After explaining the big picture, tell him about the results it will bring by focusing on how the results will directly and positively impact Mike the Egomaniac (this is known as the WIIFM, the “what’s in it for me”).
- Recognize their underlying insecurities: What I’ve found over the years is that many people like Mike the Egomaniac are actually fairly insecure about themselves. Often times the “bravado” they show during discussions is their way of trying prove their worth. Know that they will rarely discuss their concerns about a topic because they don’t want to seem like they’re not in control. Be aware of this – it means you need to carefully think through all sides of a situation and potential issues and barriers and then proactively determine action plans should they occur. To a Mike the Egomaniac, if anything bad happens, it will be your fault, not his.
Never let a difficult manager hold you back in your career! Determine creative ways you can work with them that will allow you to earn their trust while creating a portfolio of work accomplishments that demonstrate the value you’re adding to your position, to the department in which you work, and to the company itself.
~ Lisa Quast