Surviving the Diva Boss

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Does your boss make the most exasperating requests? Or perhaps demands for things on the spot? Maybe even reschedules meetings around her manicure appointment during office hours? Does she come into the office every morning sporting a look that makes you wonder if she realizes she’s not waltzing down the red carpet at an LA premiere? Welcome to the world of the diva boss.

In ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, Anne Hathaway’s got a boss straight out of Hades but being the movie world, it’s all right for her. At least those to-die-for clothes are guaranteed to ease the pain away. However, for those of us in the real world, reality is sadly the opposite. Not only do you have to suffer your boss, but you also have to do it in mass produced high street fashion outfits.

Interviews with a few ladies turned up the following common absurdities diva bosses have been known to come up with:-

Scenario 1

She’s afraid of flying but she has to do it anyway, so she asks you to call the travel agency and find out exactly what make the airplane is, when it was commissioned, when it was last serviced and then she wants you to go online and find out if airplanes of that model are generally safe. “I wanted to staple the plane ticket to her head,” said Karen, an Executive Assistant. “Of course there was no way I could get that information and the agency more or less hung up on me around the time I started to ask about the last time the plane was serviced. The most annoying thing about it is she canceled the flight eventually.”

Scenario 2

She asks you to make her a cup of coffee, which is not part of your job description by the way. In the interest of future raises and promotions, you acquiesce. When the tea is ready, she informs you it’s the wrong temperature. “Tea is hot or cold as far as I’m concerned and someone saying tea is not the right temperature as if she expects you to stick a thermometer in it to get it just the way she wants is beyond the call of duty,” Sara, a Brand Assistant, had to say about her own boss.

Scenario 3

She schedules an impromptu meeting out of the blue without checking if your timetable is free. That’s not as bad as expecting you to be prepared for the meeting she never told you about until half an hour before when she knows quite well it will take you hours to get ready for the meeting. “She seems not to have much to do so she goes around scheduling meetings unexpectedly like a teacher giving an impromptu test just to make the students miserable.” This is the situation Betty has with her boss a lot of the time and is seriously considering quitting.

Scenario 4

She walks into the office and suddenly decides the sitting arrangements are no longer interesting and insists on rearranging the office, not tomorrow, the day after or in a week but right at that moment. Everyone has to put their work on hold and comply with her demand. “It was like Julius Caesar had walked into the arena and made a decree. We all literally had to stop what we were doing and move the entire office around. Doesn’t this woman have something urgent to do was the thought on everyone’s minds,” stated Carol, a Sales Executive.

Scenario 5

She goes off for a salon appointment during working hours and returns about a nanosecond before closing time and insists on getting a report she never told you she wanted. You have to stay behind to get it ready then she tells you an hour later you can give it to her the next morning after all. However, you’ve missed your ride home by then. “The first time she did it, I empathised. She’s repeated it twice since and both times I’ve wanted to stick her head in the microwave,” said Miriam, a Secretary.

Any of these scenarios sound familiar? Chances are you’ve encountered the diva boss at one time or the other in your career. And there’s a possibility you may still come across her before your career is over but never fear. If you keep the following pointers in mind while dealing with the diva boss, you might just come out on top and not have to quit your job after all.

  1. Smile. A lot. Especially when she’s really working on that last nerve. It takes the stress off you and helps you picture things in a lighter perspective.
  2. Keep in mind your boss is not going to change. You have to adapt yourself to the situation but in a way that doesn’t undermine you as a person.
  3. Adopt a non-adversarial diplomatic approach to dealing with her. Think up creative ways to handle her demands in a calm and controlled manner.
  4. Manage any negative emotions you might have towards your boss so you don’t end up counterattacking.
  5. Your boss is your boss. Period. She signs your paycheques at the end of the month. If you keep this at the forefront of your mind it should go a long way in helping you deal with the diva attitude.
  6. Gossip about her but with a neutral person outside the office who can help you examine the situation in a fair and rational manner.

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