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Handling a Boss Who Undermines You

Tags:  Management, Action Plan, Team Leader

You've been promoted to team leader. A great opportunity and a challenging one if you are working for a boss who is accustomed to being hands-on. It can become difficult if he continues to see it as his role to supervise the entire team.


That's why it is important to have a very clear understanding of what your role means to the department, the team and to the boss. Defining your role before you take on the responsibility of leading the team can help you and your boss agree about his and your relationship with the team.


That way, if there is ever any doubt or if your boss unintentionally circumvents your authority by handing out assignments to your team, you'll be in a better position to lead your boss. Just follow these Guideposts to learn how:

1. Ask questions; clarify role as team leader

Approaching your boss with the need to redirect him can be difficult and intimidating. However, you need to be able to talk to him if you want to be successful in your role.


Start by setting up a specific meeting time and advising him of the issue at hand. Ask him to clarify what he believes your role to be to ensure you are both in agreement. Then explain what situation occurred and what effect that had on you and the other team members.


2. Paraphrase from boss' perspective, handle concerns, offer solution


Be prepared that you may get push back from your boss. After all, he's been leading others longer than you; however, don't let that sway you from your focus.


Be open to hearing what your boss has to say, especially if he has legitimate issues with you or your team. Without pointing fingers point out your concerns so that he very clearly understands how his behavior can have a negative impact on the team. Make sure to offer solutions to correct the situation.

3. Summarize action plan, thank boss

Once the two of you have had a chance to speak, you need to make sure there is a final resolution.


Sum up what the two of you have discussed and agreed upon. Depending on the specifics of the situation and the breadth of information, you may even want to put an action plan together in writing. Above all else, thank your boss for his time, direction and understanding.


This is not the time to get angry or to feel defeated. Bosses are human, too. Take the time to have a straight-forward discussion about the situation so that the two of you can ultimately come to a solution.

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