How to manage an irrational boss

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Unrealistic expectations, irrational behaviour, unworkable demands: Fast Company has collected some advice to help you to manage up successfully and tell the boss when it's too much without sounding lazy or sorry for yourself. 

Unreasonable Deadlines

Your supervisor told you he needs a major report by tomorrow. It is five days' work and you cannot do it overnight.

What you’ll want to say: You insensitive monster. I am not a magician!

What you should say: “I understand that this needs to be a priority. However, I’ve reviewed the requirements for this project and I know I’ll be unable to do a solid job with this given the current deadline. Could we push the due date to Friday?”

Unreasonable tasks

The boss wants something that is outside of your job description – like picking up her books from the library or bringing her cat to the vet?

What you’ll want to say: I’m not your personal slave and it’s not my job to fulfil your every wish, you tyrant!

What you should say: “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you out because I have the charts for the sales presentation and the graphics for the new marketing collateral on my to-do list this week and am planning to dedicate my full attention and energy to those. We decided together during last week’s one-on-one that those were pressing priorities.”

Work piles as high as the Himalayas

The boss keeps handing out tasks and assignments without any sort of concern for the towering pile of work that’s already on your desk.

What you’ll want to say: I am not a productivity superhero. Find somebody with a little less and leave me alone.

What you should say: “I appreciate that you trust me with this assignment. However, I have a lot of work on my plate for this week. Can we sit down and talk through what I’m currently working on to figure out what should be prioritized?”


Calls and texts at all hours

Your boss assumes that he/she should be able to communicate with you anytime and anywhere, no matter if you are on vacation, in Pilates class or at the dentist.

What you’ll want to say: Contrary to you I actually do have a life outside of the office. Get a life!

What you should say: “In order to use my time away from work to truly relax and recharge, I want to remind you that I typically don’t check my inbox when I’m not in ‘work mode.’ I’ll make sure to get right on top of those things when I return to the office and my normal working hours.”


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