Do you routinely find yourself being thrown under the bus? Do others confuse your role of successful business support professional with the profile of office scapegoat? Are you regularly taking the fall for others wrongdoings or mishaps with absolutely no idea why? Well…you are not alone.
A successful relationship dynamic between business support professional and boss is crucial to a happy and successful career for both. It entails trust, mutual respect, open and honest communication and a passion to see each other succeed in their respective careers. A successful working relationship means being on the same page with each other with the same commercial goals in mind, acting as the driving force behind strategic decision making, planning ahead and overcoming challenges together.
On the flip side, narcissistic tendencies, inflated egos and a lack of respect from the top down is not a new experience for some business support professionals when tackling difficult bosses. Combine those traits with workplace stress, the pressure of hitting multiple aggressive deadlines and overall performance and reputation anxiety and you no longer have a boss but a wrecking ball. You witness your boss becoming overwhelmed, forgetful and they start to blame you for the times when they slip up to save their own skin…even when you had no part to play in their failure.
So how do you overcome the challenges faced with a bad boss and in particular; work successfully with someone who throws you to the wolves to cover their tracks when things go wrong?
Know Your Values
Knowing your values is fundamental to knowing who you are, they are the bedrock to your inner confidence. It sounds easy but value setting is not simply being ‘helpful’ or ‘organised’; there are over 50 values that we regularly go through with our A-Lister members, each with a specific description to help our member identify and align themselves with who they are as a person. No, this won’t provide immediate protection from a boss who likes to throw you under the bus but when you have clarity on who you are, pushing back and standing up to bad bosses becomes much easier. Need some help developing your professional foundation to build your inner confidence? Click here and choose our ‘A-Lister’ option for your value and purpose setting workshop and monthly mentoring sessions to help you succeed as an assistant.
Acting strategically as an assistant requires more than just forward thinking. It’s understanding that your role is to support your boss but ultimately you work for the company. Loosely translated, this means you and your boss are on the same team striving for the same commercial goals to prove their area is contributing to the overall success of the business. Making this mindset switch should enable you to feel more comfortable giving feedback to your boss during your 1:1s – how can you support someone to the best of your ability if there are some serious issues in your working relationship? Remember, this is a two-way street, and the ironic thing is that neither of you can function without the other. If you consistently feel that blame is being left at your desk for issues that you have no control over, if they blame you in front of other colleagues for their own mistakes, feel empowered enough to raise this with them.
Make sure you approach any feedback conversation with a clear structure. Be open and honest with how their actions (go with examples!) are making you feel and describe how their behaviour impacts you position within the business. Likewise, encourage them to be open and honest with their own feelings and explain that this is an opportunity for you to identify where there are areas for improvement that you can work on together. Perhaps you both need to become better at communicating with each other. Maybe a different approach to your regular updates is required and maybe even the frequency of your updates need to change during certain busy times.
Be brave in your honesty and think of a constructive solution to the problem.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox helping you to achieve success in any role. The key thing to remember is that you are never too old, too experienced or too far in your journey to have a mentor who will share their skills, knowledge, expertise, and professional contacts with you.
Finding a mentor who can offer you practical advice on their own experiences of working with a difficult boss and perhaps someone who even has faced the same challenges, will provide you the outside support that you need. A mentor can act as the rock you need to lean on when times get tough and so always seeking mentors both in your personal and professional life.
Unsure how to identify a mentor? We have a masterclass launching soon on this very topic delivered by Abigail Jones, an EA with over 20 years of experience in the industry and who is a renowned coach and mentor to Personal and Executive Assistants around the world. Click here to become a Rising Star and watch out for the email announcing this masterclass soon!