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Help, My Boss Is A Workaholic!

Help, My Boss Is A Workaholic!

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Is your boss a workaholic and demanding that you be the same? Are you working insane hours, sacrificing weekends, and worst of all, doing it all in service of someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate your efforts?

Related: 9 Strategies For Dealing With A Passive Aggressive Boss

It’s time to take action and take back the reins. Yes, it will be difficult at first. But remember that what you’re fighting for isn’t just better work-life balance. It’s preventing burnout. It’s reducing the stress and anxiety which is negatively impacting your family. Most importantly, it’s changing the framework of success from pleasing someone who can never be pleased, to supporting what’s truly important to YOU.

Here Are 4 Big Do’s And Don’ts To Get You Started:

1. Don’t Go Along With The Mindset

No matter how critical your boss is, remember that he is not your enemy but a person who is also just trying to get by. His workaholic patterns may very well be the result of learned behavior. Perhaps he answers to someone who is incredibly demanding, and this has led to him passing on that manner of getting things done to you. All of which is to say, he may find it hard to relate to your desire for more balance.

Step one is to stop encouraging the negative behavior. Don’t praise your boss for a result he clearly achieved through “burning the midnight oil.” Don’t nod your head in agreement when he has a conversation with you about how working 12-hour days is “just part of the job.” How you respond to your boss’s actions sends a powerful message: are you tacitly agreeing with how he sees the world, or do you see things in a different way?

2. Do Communicate Your Needs

One of the hardest things to deal with in a workaholic boss is the aloofness when it comes to your personal life concerns. They don’t notice when you miss your child’s spring play to finish a project. They find it acceptable that you’ve been putting off seeing a doctor for weeks because there’s a major initiative that needs to be executed. Remember that in all likelihood, this doesn’t stem from not caring, but SIMPLY NOT SEEING. Workaholics tend to be hyper-focused individuals, and that means clearly communicating your needs is the only way to break through.

Step two is getting into the habit of verbalizing your needs. Repetition isn’t just fine, but encouraged. If your boss asks you to come in on the weekend, don’t say yes and glower. Instead, give him a specific reason why that won’t work. If he makes the same request next week, repeat the process. If you have a doctor’s appointment or some other obligation coming up, shoot him an email and tell him multiple times prior. The more you stand up for yourself, the easier it will be.

3. Do Let Go Of Your Boss’s Impossible Standards

A workaholic boss is like a parent who can’t be pleased. No matter how much work you do, you’re always behind. No matter how many wins you pull off, you’re always one step away from being reprimanded. People like this thrive on a sense of constant panic. That’s their fuel, and they either don’t care or aren’t smart enough to realize that it’s killing them.

Step three is to switch your gauge of success from Quantity to Quality. Stop worrying about how many items you’ve checked off your calendar. What kind of RESULTS are you producing? How happy are the clients you’re working with? At the start of each day, take a blank sheet of paper and write down the 2-3 most important things you need to tackle. Address these with full attention, and at the end of the workday (not midnight, btw!) evaluate your success and figure out how to tackle the next day.

4. Do Become A Catalyst For Change

It is crucial that you find a way to succeed at your job that isn’t reliant on mimicking the destructive patterns of your boss. A great tool at your disposal is calling out ineffective processes and proactively suggesting improvements.

For example, if you boss dumps a load of work on you at Friday afternoon, don’t agree to doing it. Instead, use a question like, “How can we develop a more efficient way of managing this project, so that I can actually complete it within regular working hours?” If a boss asks you to cancel an outing with your co-workers after a hard week, you can respond with, “I believe that supporting the people we work with, and making them feel good about the sacrifices they’ve made, is important. How can we promote more work-life balance so everything that needs to get done actually gets done, but not at the cost of their well-being?”

Obviously, a workaholic boss isn’t going to be jumping up and down suggesting improvements. But once you’ve raised the topic in such a way, you’ve opened the door to sending him a detailed email that outlines a new way of doing things. For example, how about setting a daily cut-off time for emails and calls, or reducing the number of mandatory meetings and showing studies which point to the productivity benefits of these approaches? Two advantages here: the first is that you show your boss that you are truly committed to positive change (and not just angling for more time off). The second is that you are establishing yourself as an individual with a perspective that is apart from him or her. You are not an automaton, and cannot be treated as one.

I strongly recommend testing the changes above and evaluating the results. But I’d be remiss in not saying that sometimes the best approach is to move on. No job is worth compromising your integrity. No salary is big enough to make up for a toxic environment. Make an honest effort to change things, but if you can’t, set sail for calmer waters.

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About the author

Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

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Anish Majumdar Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.