5 Tips for Handling a Boss with Unrealistic Expectations

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There’s likely to be a point in your career when you come across a boss who is a bit of a workaholic. They’ll be the kind of boss who works around the clock and lets their job take over their lives.

While there’s nothing wrong with people who are super-passionate about their work, what can be difficult is when they expect the same amount of commitment and dedication from you.

If you’re struggling to handle a boss who has unrealistic expectations of you, our tips below should help.

1. Listen and repeat

When your boss assigns you a new project, target or task ensure that you listen carefully to what they are asking of you and take down some notes. Then before finishing up the conversation with them, you should repeat the responsibilities and deadlines they have given you back to them.

By clarifying your tasks in this way, you can ensure that you fully know what your boss’ expectations are and if they have given you an unreasonable workload, they may recognise that too. To help them understand how much work they have given you, you should break down the steps you’ll need to complete for the project you have been given.

2. Question whether they are being unreasonable

There are a number of reasons why we may feel overwhelmed at work and it isn’t necessarily because your boss is asking too much of you. It’s important for you to establish exactly why you feel overwhelmed in order to find a solution. You may be:

  • Lacking in confidence about your own abilities
  • In need of some additional training
  • Short on resources or tools

In some cases, your boss may be asking a bit much of you. However, don’t be afraid of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and also asking for help if you need it.

3. Write down reasons why the task is unreasonable

No boss wants to hear you say you can’t do something they want you to. If you know that a task is unreasonable you should write down the reasons why. You may have an unrealistic deadline or other priorities that will be disrupted.

Instead of telling your boss reasons why you can’t do the task, you should approach them with a list of help, time or resources you think you need. You’re then approaching your boss having come up with a proactive solution and showing that you can still get the job done.

4. Talk to your colleagues

If you’re struggling with your boss’ expectations, find out if any of your colleagues are having the same problem. If your work is quite a fast-paced and challenging environment, it’s a good idea to speak to colleagues that have been working there for a while. These colleagues may have some insight and advice for handling your boss and making your situation easier.

When talking to your colleagues, ensure that you keep your tone positive and professional. You won’t want to sound like a complainer, and you don’t know what will get back to your boss. 

5. Speak up to your boss

If you’re struggling, don’t wait until the deadline is on top of you before speaking up. Go and speak to your boss and tell them your concerns. Ideally, you should also have a solution in mind as they will appreciate that you are thinking creatively and solving problems.

If you’re honest, you are more likely to be able to get the help you need to get your task done. Your boss should also be able to help you to prioritise your workload. Sometimes, saying no to your boss is the best thing for you, them and the company.

Bringing it all together

If you have a demanding boss, then it’s important for you to establish boundaries and find a balance that works for you both. Your mental health and happiness is the most important thing, so if you can’t find a good solution it may be time to start looking for a new job.

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