Stingy Boss

Among some of the most difficult individuals to work for are those we refer to as  controlling perfectionists. These individuals are often know-it-all, nitpicking control freaks who take great delight in making you feel inferior. Perhaps one of the most difficult situations that people find themselves in when working for someone who has this type of personality is asking for some type of favor from this person. For example, asking for a day off, asking for vacation time, for help with a project can all bring on a great deal of apprehension and worries because of anticipation of being put down or harshly criticized.

Part of the difficulty with asking for some type of favors may have to do with the image the controlling perfectionist often creates that they work harder than everyone else or that he or she is the only one who really knows what they’re doing or has all the answers. Remember, controlling perfectionists are often workaholics, so it’s possible that he or she may spend more actual hours on the job although most research points to the fact that productivity is negatively impacted the more hours one spends on the job. In addition, controlling perfectionists often get caught up in minutia and therefore may not actually be accomplishing a much in those extra hours at work. 

But perhaps one of the most difficult positions workers find themselves in, is when they have to ask their controlling perfectionist boss or administrator for a raise. So even though one may feel deserving of a raise, that individual may find the prospect of confronting your controlling perfectionist boss daunting, if not downright intimidating.

Consider some of the following suggestions. Then take a deep breath and go for it. After all, in most instances the worst they can say is “NO!” Right?

1)                          Stick to the facts. Controlling perfectionists live in a world of facts, figures, and precision, so when making your case stick to what you’ve accomplished in precise, clear terms. You may consider writing up a one-page summary of your accomplishments or having a binder which includes positive performance evaluations, examples of projects you’ve work on, or unsolicited compliments from clients or customers. Remember, your boss thinks he or she works harder than anyone else in the organization, so you need to make a strong case that you’ve been working as hard if not harder than your boss..

2)                          Mention to your boss how his or her support and supervision has helped you. Although this may sound like you’re kissing up, what you’re doing is saying to your boss, “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I’ve done.” What you’re trying to convey here is that you’re a team player in that you’re willing to receive and follow direction.

3)                          If your boss is reluctant to commit to a definitive answer or on an amount for your raise, ask him or her to think it over.It may not be a bad thing to leave the conversation unresolved, because then both you and your boss can think things over a bit. Maybe you can even come up with more and better reasons why you’re deserving of a raise or can come up with counter-arguments to any objections your boss may have expressed.

4)                          If your request is denied, don’t get angry or lash out at your boss. Instead ask if he or she would be willing to come up with objective goals (i.e. what you need to do, in a specific time frame), in order to be eligible for a raise. Write these targets down and then draft a memo that you send to your boss. Controlling perfectionists often get lost in details and minutiae; what you’re doing here is getting your boss to define exactly what he or she expects of you. Try to make these goals as realistic, objective and measurable as possible. Your documentation even if the form of an e-mail becomes similar to written contract. Also remember to thank your boss for the time they’ve taken to hear out your request.

5)                          Refrain from criticisms, negativity, or comparing your salary with others’. These types of strategies will not serve you well in the long run. Even if a coworker was brought in at a higher salary, this will not help you make your case as to why you feel you’re deserving of a raise.

Okay so let’s say you tried all of the above and are still turned out, take heart in the fact that you’ve mustered the courage to ask for a raise and you’ve perhaps begun a dialogue with your perfectionist boss that you’re worth more to the organization.   

And that will go a long way in setting the stage for a yes the next time you ask for raise!

Impossible to Please book

Dr. Cavaiola is the co-author of Impossible to Please: How to Deal with Perfectionistic Coworkers, Controlling Spouses and other Incredibly Controlling People.

About the Authors

Neil Lavender, Ph.D.

Neil J. Lavender, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and a professor of psychology at Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.

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