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5 Brilliant Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss

In an ideal world, we would all have fantastic managers—bosses who helped us succeed, who made us feel valued, and who were just all-around great people.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But whether the person you work for is a micromanager, has anger management problems, is a flat-out workplace bully, or just isn’t very competent, you still have to make the best of the situation and finish your work.

To help out, the Ignite Your Potential coaches have gathered the best advice for dealing with a bad boss. 

1. Make Sure You’re Dealing With a “Bad Boss”

Before trying to fix your bad boss, make sure you really are dealing with one. Is there a reason for the behavior you’re seeing? Are you being too hard on him or her?

“Observe your boss for a few days and try to notice how many things she does well versus poorly. When she is doing something “bad,” try to imagine the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred. Is it truly her fault or could it be something out of their control?” Fast Company

2. Identify Your Boss’s Motivation

Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give insight into his or her management style. It’s also a way to “manage up” (understanding what the demands are on your boss and how you can best support them. There are plenty of additional articles online specifically about this topic. Think of this as an opportunity to learn this useful skill.)

“…if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’s motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it affects other employees’ morale and the perception of their superiors.” Brazen Careerist

3. Don’t Let it Affect Your Work

No matter how bad your boss’s behavior avoid letting it affect your work. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!) If you are unable to do this… it’s time to begin a job search and leave before you sabotage yourself.

“Don’t try to even the score by working slower or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.” Work Awesome

4. Act as the Leader

When dealing with an incompetent boss, sometimes it’s best to make some leadership decisions on your own.

“If you know your area well, there is no reason to not pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines your boss, so keep him or her in the loop.” Careerealism

5. Avoid Future Bad Bosses

When interviewing with a new company, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.

“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new company. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company, how it’s functioning, and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy of course.” Inc.

Need more tips on how to deal with a difficult boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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6 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox—According to People Who Get 100+ Emails a Day

Between sifting through spam, crafting the right responses, and keeping tabs on the messages that require follow-up, staying on top of your inbox can feel like a job in itself. That’s why the Ignite Your Potential coaches curated a list of tips from professionals who have figured out the secret to efficient, organized inboxes—despite getting hundreds of emails a day.

1. Only Keep Emails Requiring Immediate Action in Your Inbox

No emails in your inbox might be too lofty an aim, but by being ruthless about which messages get to take up real estate in your inbox, you can get pretty darn close.

“Most days, my email inbox has fewer than 25 messages in it. This is intentional. I want to be able to open my inbox and immediately see what is most urgent and requiring a response,” says Leigh Ann Newman, a senior program manager at an international government consulting firm. “This habit pushes me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.”

2. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, where do emails go if not your inbox? Create a “waiting folder” for emails that require action from someone else before you can respond. “This is a huge time-saver,” says Darcy Miller, a workplace expert and founder of Pin and Pivot, who for many years was barraged with more than 150 emails a day. “That way those emails aren’t junking up your inbox, and it’s a great place to look each day or week to remind you of what projects are still pending.”

She learned this trick the hard way when, during the first year of her first job, she couldn’t find an email attachment she needed. “I spent half of a day looking for that email, among the thousands of emails that were in my inbox at the time,” she says. “I vowed from that moment on, I would take control of my inbox!”

3. Make Subfolders or Labels Your New BFF

Across the board, inbox mavens recommend creating an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system. Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, estimates he gets upwards of 250 emails some days, so organization is paramount. “Email labels are your friend,” he advises. “Use them to group together important email chains, so when you need to look at something for reference, you can do so easily.”

4. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with promotional emails? Be swift with the unsubscribe button. Davis Siksnans, CEO and Founder of Printful, uses a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time he deletes a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, he unsubscribes from the list.

5. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email

You probably wouldn’t leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths around the clock, so why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

“I don’t leave my email open all day long; I set specific times during the day to go through each email and thoughtfully respond, archive, or save for later. This way I don’t multitask, and I can get through all my emails more quickly because I am actually focused on the task at hand,” says David Mitroff, a business consultant. “I recommend that people start out with three different half-hour blocks a day to read through and respond to their emails and keep their inbox closed the rest of the day and adjust as necessary from there.”

6. Squeeze in Mindless Email Tasks During Downtime

Ensure email accounts are effectively synced to your phone and use idle moments to do quick inbox clean-up. “Lots of the messages I receive don’t require direct action,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeworkingClub.com. “Spam can be deleted, other things can be filed, and you can deal with plenty of these just while you’re in a two-minute supermarket queue.”

Wanting to know other organization tips to keep your inbox in optimal shape? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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15 Better Get-to-Know-You Questions for Your Co-Workers

Maybe you’re brand new on your team, or maybe, you’ve been around for a while, but you really don’t know all that much about the people you work with. Either way, it’s time to pull out some get-to-know-you questions. First, because it’s more fun to work with people you feel bonded to, but second, it’s an excellent strategy to be connected to the people who see your work closely. You will all end up being part of a career network that will last your entire career. In other words, connecting with the people around you is both a better way to enjoy your work and also a more sophisticated career strategy. Throw a couple of these prompts out and get ready to bond with your colleagues on a whole new level.

Strictly Business

1.What do you do at [Company] and when and where can we find synergy?

2.What’s a professional skill you’re currently working on?

3. What’s your go-to productivity trick?

4. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

5. What was your first job?

A Little More Personal

6. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something what would it be?

7. If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

8. How do you turn things around when you’re having a bad day?

9. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

10. What’s something you’ve done, but will never do again?

Just for Fun

11. Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?

12. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

13. If you could choose a name for yourself, what would it be?

14. If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

15. If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

It can be tough to think of questions that go beyond, “What did you do this weekend?” or “It’s a little cold in here today, isn’t it?” Bookmark this list to foster a reputation as the co-worker who can always get an awesome conversation started.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you create a better team environment. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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5 Inspirational TED Talks for Anyone Having a Rough Day

Check out our 5 favorite TED Talks for the next time things are not going your way.

1. If You’re Feeling Sorry for Yourself: Living Beyond Limits 

Amy Purdy talks about the power of imagination. She explains how our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make. Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress.

2. If You’re Feeling Drained: Your Elusive Creative Genius

“Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

3. If You’re Feeling Sad: The Three A’s of Awesome

Neil Pasricha’s blog 1000 Awesome Things savors life’s simple pleasures, from free refills to clean sheets. In this heartfelt talk from TEDxToronto, he reveals the 3 secrets (all starting with A) to leading a life that’s truly awesome.

4. If You’re Feeling Negative: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Dan Gilbert, the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

5. If You’re Feeling Stressed: How to Make Stress Your Friend 

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken, and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

We hope that at least one of these video can get you through your bad day. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find cope with tough days. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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