How to Work for a Demanding Boss

Demanding bosses can be goal-focused, stress-inducing, charismatic, direct, visionary and downright slave drivers.

Most bosses who fall into these categories are high-performers themselves and seek employees that are the same.

They aren’t necessarily bad bosses seeking employees to pick on.

They may not be much for chatting or building relationships at work, but they generally produce results, company success, and higher-ups value them.

If you haven’t already, you will most likely have to deal with a demanding boss.

Working for these individuals can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you want to succeed working for a demanding boss, here are a few tips to approach and handle the situation:

1. It’s not personal, it’s business.

Your boss doesn’t necessarily have it in for you. He or she is likely so focused on outcomes, there’s little time made for the niceties of getting to know you as an individual.

High-performers focus on results and tend to think out loud. They may express themselves with intensity.

Don’t take their tone of voice personally. Listen to the message and ask questions when direction is not clear.

Maybe your boss appreciates bouncing ideas off others. If so, be that sounding board for him or her.

A demanding boss may also simply have high expectations of you. Your boss simply believes you are capable and gives you the work he/she feels you can do well.

Ultimately, this is good for your career, so consider stepping up to the challenges presented to you.

2. Be direct and honest with your demanding boss.

When you communicate with a demanding boss, get to the point right away. High-performers like to learn and love to use what they’ve learned, so it’s essential to give them exactly what they need to know, when they need it.

If your demanding boss comes across as impatient, it’s likely that he/she doesn’t like weighty, non-essential details.

If your boss isn’t good at giving details to you—particularly when you need those details to do your job well—tell him/her that you’d like written guidelines on his/her expectations of you.

This eliminates ambiguity and helps you do your job better and handle issues that may arise. It also provides a written record of instructions you’ve been given.

3. Think solutions, not problems.

If your boss appears intolerant of mistakes, that may not be the truth. Good bosses—demanding or not—often take the blame when something goes wrong.

You may see his or her displeasure but may never hear or see how the higher-ups respond.

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it immediately. Swallow your embarrassment or fear and focus on discussing solutions to the problem created by your mistake.

When faced with a problem, most demanding bosses seek options from their team instead of feeling like the solution has to come from him or her alone.
Demonstrate your maturity and value by focusing on the solution.

4. Communicate often.

A demanding boss wants to know what’s going on. He or she doesn’t have time to seek you out and ask for a status report. Be proactive and prepared to give updates on your work progress.

Acknowledge deadlines.

Most importantly, do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t, make sure you communicate what the obstacles are.

High-performer bosses are problem solvers and will help you when presented with options.

Your success is your boss’s success.

5. Help your boss get to know you better

You can help your demanding boss get to know you, first as a hard worker and then as a supportive team member.

Once he or she is assured of your value as an employee, the demanding boss will let go of some of that stress and see you for who you are.

You can learn a lot from observing your demanding boss.

Look for clues that he or she is relaxed and open to discussions that extend beyond the focus of work before you launch into talking about non-business topics.

Get advice from others who have worked under the same boss for a longer time than you have.

It’s important you keep it professional and don’t express frustration or dissatisfaction.

Your co-workers can help you understand your demanding boss and ease your transition into the job.

If your demanding boss is abusive to you in any way, consult someone in human resources. They can advise you on the proper steps to take for resolution.