Empathizing with Your Boss

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The first step in dealing with a Difficult Boss situation is owning it yourself.

Owning the situation does not mean that it is your fault.  It just means that its most likely that you will be the person most capable of resolving the issue.

A key vital step in this process is developing empathy for your boss and their situation.  As we have highlighted the majority of bosses don’t mean to be uncaring or come across as incompetent.  They want to earn your respect.

Your boss has their own boss and its more than likely that this relationship is contributing to how your boss behaves and is a likely source of stress for your boss.

Think about the Boss Behaviour that is most troubling you and try to put yourself in your bosses shoes and understand the behaviour from their perspective.  In the next section we will talk about a number of possible drivers for Difficult Boss Behaviour.  But for the moment let’s focus on the Micromanager Difficult Boss.

Is it possible that this Boss has had a bad run of poor patient outcomes or possibly a series of not as competent medical trainees to deal with before you?  Is this why they insist on reviewing all the history and checking all the examination findings personally?

Think also about whether the issue might just be about yourself.  Perhaps again in the above example you are a more Advanced Trainee and don’t need as much reminding but all the previous trainees have been more junior and actually encouraged your boss to check their work?

A tip for determining whether the Difficult Behaviour maybe more related to your own personal situation is to check around with colleagues.  But do so with care and respect for your Boss and colleagues.  Don’t go asking others to “dish the dirt” just ask them general questions about their experience on the term and any tips, for e.g. “what particular things does Dr X like to have checked in their patients?”

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