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Ask Bee: ‘My Lady Boss is Passive-Agressive and I Can’t Stand It!’

Dear Bee,

I work with a female boss who just doesn’t know how to communicate or manage other people. Like, I believe that she is highly incompetent. She never speaks to us directly but likes to use emails as her only form of communication. When she’s upset or pissed about something she sends out these long passive-aggressive emails blaming us for her messing up on assignments that she poorly instructed us on. She’s constantly forgetting things and is extremely grumpy all the time. How can I get my boss to be a better manager? I’m so sick and tired of her poor coordination skills and moody attitudes. I’m ready for her behind to go!

Sincerely,
Hate My Lady Boss

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Dear Hate My Lady Boss,

If there’s one thing that’s more annoying than working in a dysfunctional workplace, it’s having a dysfunctional boss. It seems that whoever is managing you is not doing a good job leading you and it may be because she is weighed down or bothered by factors that are beyond your control. There must be something going on in her personal life (extra stressors? lack of a love life? family or financial issues?) that is causing her to stress out — the mistake she is making is that it is beginning to hamper her managerial abilities at work and other people are starting to notice.

mean

If you feel that your boss is doing a poor job communicating, consider a time in which you can pull her aside to address it. Send her an email or even go up to her directly and ask if she has time to meet with you for about 15 minutes to discuss some issues that you feel have arisen on the job. Make sure you’re polite about it — you don’t want to show anyone that you have any hard feelings towards your boss or it could pit you against her. Tell your boss that you’d like it if she’d use alternative forms of communications (phone calls, meetings, debriefs, bulleted emails) to get information across to you and that you are able to comprehend tasks better through verbal rather than written direction (or whatever works best). Also, try double-checking her instructions by reading them back to her — go to her directly and say, “Just so that I have this right, you want me to….” That way you’ve gotten a confirmation for her that you’re completing your task as she directed you to.

If the woman’s got an attitude, learn to ignore her. Stay away from her when’s she acting cranky. However, if she addresses you inappropriately because she’s grumpy or PMSing then tell her face-to-face (in private) that you didn’t like the way she treated you. You should never allow yourself to be insulted or disrespected in the workplace. That’s downright bullying. Don’t discuss these type of issues over e-mail. You never want to create a paper trail that she could leverage and use against you in the future (she could potentially clame that you’ve been a disobedient direct report). Trust me. Sucky attitudes don’t last long.

Whatever you do — don’t go to your boss’ boss (unless she’s super duper reckless then in that case…proceed with caution). Be mature about it, address the issue head-on with her, and pray for change. Otherwise if you really can’t take it — leave. She can find another paycheck-slave to grinch at.

Keep Your Cool Girlfriend,

Bee

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