Recently, we asked a stay-at-home mom to apply her knowledge of managing two young boys to the workplace. Her rules for raising her sons made for great advice when dealing with difficult bosses. Today, we're reversing the tactic. Lilit Marcus, author of the new book, Save the Assistants: a guide to surviving and thriving in the workplace, offers advice to assistants on tackling all types of fearless leaders. Her expertise stems from years working as an administrative assistant, and feeling over-extended and under-appreciated. Much like moms. Of course they have the upside of working for a child they love. For Marcus, the pay-off was a meager salary. So there's a big difference. But her advice on training various high-maintenance bosses translates pretty smoothly to parenting. Tell us if you agree, moms.
Dealing with an over-sharer. Some bosses just love to talk and talk. At first it's a novelty but soon it becomes difficult to get anything done as you nod along to another story about a first cousin and a badly catered wedding. Kids can be the same way: big nonsense talkers. It's adorable, until you have to get some work done. Here's Marcus' advice: "Don't stop working on what you're working on. That way you'll at least have something interesting to do...if he doesn't get the hint you might fire back with some over-sharing of your own." A tedious story about a topic your kid doesn't really care about (say wainscotting or deciding between two sconces) might just gently turn their attention away from you without hurting their feelings.
Dealing with a micro-manager. Bosses are notorious for over-seeing the most mundane tasks. But kids can be too. You've got your picky eaters who have specific directions for cutting sandwiches and your night-time high maintenance kids who have direct specifications for falling asleep. As good as their intentions may be, you're bound to mess up. And tantrums can ensue. Marcus suggests "predicting behavior before it happens". Sometimes just letting a boss or a kid know you anticipate their needs, puts their mind at ease. But if you do start anticipating needs, be sure to wait till the request is made. If your boss constantly requests napkins, keep a stack in your back pocket, she suggests. Same goes for kids and coping toy. But don't hand it out until it's requested. If you hand over something before he asks for it, "he'll come up with a new request," writes Marcus. It's all about letting them feel in control, not be in control.
Dealing with an over-stresser. "This boss flips out at everything," explains Marcus of the panicked type. Sometimes the stress can be traced to their early years. If you've got a kid who's high on anxiety, consider Marcus advice for assistants with the same problem. "Be painfully calm. If you get tense and start yelling too, it turns into a shouting contest.The louder his voice gets, the quieter you should be...He'll be forced to lower his voice to hear you." Another tactic is compiling a mental list of alternatives to curb panic. So if your child-size boss is upset over an impending meal or play-date, throw out some similar options and get the ball rolling immediately. This way, they feel like they've got options, and the freedom to choose, even if they really don't.
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