Let's be honest: It's rare to find an employee who hasn't indulged in a good old gripe fest with co-workers. There's something
comforting in knowing that the boss's incessant tardiness or horrible attitude is bothering other people, too. But these complaint
sessions don't really solve anything. That's especially true if you're a team member with a boss who roars like a lion, steamrolls
like an elephant, or slithers like a snake. Rather than bemoaning your bad-boss fate, try to ditch the idea that your boss
is beastly. Begin taming your opinion by thinking about what might be causing your boss's not-so-great behavior.
Consider the source
Odds are, you share boss-related annoyances with other team members—even those who work at practices of different shapes and
sizes (see "10 Common Bad Boss Behaviors"). While this may sound surprising, it's not when you consider the legitimate reasons
behind most veterinary practice owners' actions. Their bad behavior is usually because they're:
Managers by default. "Most veterinarians are bosses because they have the letters after their name and own the practice," says Dr. Craig Woloshyn,
owner of Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting in Custer, S.D. "Nowhere in their schooling or work experience, if they have any, have
they been prepared for supervising employees, stimulating them, enriching their workplace, helping them apply their skills
to make the practice thrive, or forming a team out of disparate personalities. Simply, they never learned how to be a boss,
and now they are one."
Pummeled by details. Managers often deal with every aspect of the practice, from medical care to team communication. So when they don't focus
on what you might wish they did, it's probably because they're handling something else, says Pam Weakley, Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and practice manager at Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic in Battle Creek, Mich. "It might be
that they're worried about a patient in the ICU or an extra-large electric bill," she says.
And don't forget that for every time you take a problem to your boss, there's a different team member highlighting yet another
issue. "Sometimes veterinarians are thinking about all the things on their plate at once and trying to please everyone," Weakley
says. "And they're still handling all the medical cases, too."
Ruined by misunderstanding. Your idea of inappropriate behavior might not be the same as your manager's—or even your fellow team members' for that matter.
So what looks like a problem to you, might seem perfectly normal to your boss, says Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a partner at VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. "In these cases, it's all about perception,"
Adopt a different view
As with most things, perception has a lot to do with how you react to your boss's behavior—and perception is a potent remedy.
With a little bit of insight, some of your complaints could be erased.
A couple notes about great managers
"I once worked with a clinic where the boss would yell, and the team members would yell back," Grosdidier says. "It was very
upsetting to some new employees. But it turned out that after so many years of dogs barking and machines whirring, the doctor
was hearing impaired. He had to talk loud, and everyone just got comfortable with that. Some of the team members got small
earplugs to dim the noise a few decibels."
So when you're feeling cranky about your boss, stop and think about what might be going on with her. Then try to put yourself
in her position, Weakley says. "If you've never owned your own business, it's hard to know what it takes to keep a business
not only open, but profitable," she says.
Seeing your boss in a different light may be the solution you need, Grosdidier says. "Bosses' actions aren't about you," she
says, "they're about them. You aren't going to change the fact that your boss comes in late, so try to let that go." You might
be surprised how much better you feel when you just allow some behaviors to slide off your back.