How to handle a boss who breaks promises

February 8, 2009
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , , — jonimar @ 5:00 pm

Q: My boss promises incentives for achieving targets, but when we reach them, he gives every reason why we won’t get them. With the economy the way it is, I can’t afford to make waves and get fired, but I have lost trust and respect for him. How can I get beyond this?

A: Your boss is in the position of authority, but you have a choice — and experiencing that choice offers you freedom and peace even if you don’t get your desired results.

You can choose to resolve this by developing new alternatives where you both still reach your goals and maintain your relationship. Express your point of view in a calm, neutral way without attacking him. Document and verify all future agreements up front.

If your boss still disagrees, you have been true to yourself and you’ll know where you stand. You can’t always change a person’s mind or the situation, no matter how hard you try. Instead of fighting a losing battle, you can decide to accommodate. In other words, let it go.

You can opt to overpower him by taking it to an influential ally or higher power to force the issue. But what’s the long-range cost to you? If his behaviour reflects the organization’s culture, this could be a no-win situation. It might be wise to cut your losses and move on.

Alternatively you can compromise on what goals you are willing to give up in exchange for others. Staying put means contending with this boss. Is it worth the trade-off of not having to job hunt?

Stewing about bad treatment breeds resentment and drains your energy. Refocus on what brings you satisfaction at work. Set your own benchmarks and incentives for attaining them. If you can’t find a way to minimize conflict, minimize the contact.

Originally printed in The Province on February 8, 2009.


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