5 Tips for Working under a High-Maintenance High-Performer Boss

Working for a high-performer boss can be the most exhilarating experience of your life or it can be the most exasperating. It all depends on how ready you are to meet the challenge. You may have heard them described them this way: “This is the best boss I’ve ever had, but also the most demanding, the most difficult.” If you’ve experienced this scenario, chances are your boss is a high-maintenance high-performer. Here are five tips that will help you in working with your high-maintenance high-performer boss. Get down to business when communicating with your high-maintenance high-performer boss.


  1. Get down to business when communicating with your high-maintenance high-performer boss.

When a high-maintenance high-performer boss wants to chitchat, he’ll let you know. Watch for clues before assuming he’s in the mood to talk about anything other than the project at hand. This boss’s sense of urgency and drive can be difficult to work with, especially if you’re someone who tends to get caught up in the analytical side of things or you don’t like change. If you think the analytical work you’re doing is important, communicate to your boss what the benefit and result will be. Always deliver your project on time because a high-maintenance high performer boss does not want to be slowed down by missed deadlines.


  1. Don’t take it personally!

High-maintenance high performer bosses tend to think out loud. They turn ideas over in rapid fire, juggle multiple scenarios, think about the present while exploring the future. Remember not to take what they say and how they say it personally, because often the intensity you hear isn’t directed at you. It’s their internal motivation for getting things right and their need to be moving forward at all times that creates this intensity. Always listen, evaluate and question when the comment or direction is not clear or appears inaccurate. Being direct communicators, high-maintenance high-performer bosses appreciate direct feedback and questions


  1. Give your high-maintenance high-performer boss only essential details.

Many high-maintenance high-performer bosses are driven to learn. But because they want to be able to use what they’ve learned, providing too much information does not work. These bosses want to know exactly what they need to know, when they need it, and then they want to move on. Don’t bog them down with details when presenting ideas or reports. Always start with the benefits: how will it benefit the company, how will it benefit the goal, how will it benefit the customers? Then talk about the relevant specifics and attach all of the supporting details for later reading.


  1. Always approach your high maintenance high performer boss with solutions.

One misperception about working for high-maintenance high-performer bosses is that they are intolerant of mistakes. The truth is that they will often take the blame themselves if something goes awry. If you make a mistake, be prepared to talk about it and offer fixes. Don’t hesitate to approach your boss even if you don’t think your solutions are great. But never come to the table without at least some possible solutions, because your boss will view that as a waste of time. Options work better for a high-maintenance high-performer boss than no options at all.


  1. Establish a timeline and priority for projects and requests.

Unfortunately, when high-maintenance high-performer bosses ask for something, they mean now. So it’s important to always get a deadline. To make sure you set a realistic deadline, you define it. You can say, “Okay, this is what you need; this is when I’m going to get it to you.” Do not leave a project open ended. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t, make sure you communicate what the obstacles are. High-maintenance high-performer bosses are problem solvers by nature. They will help you when presented with options. Ask for help. Make sure you communicate your success and your employees’ success to your boss. Let your boss know when to recognize someone on your team. Remember, your accomplishments are your boss’s accomplishments. Your success is your boss’s success. Making your high- maintenance high-performer boss look good is always welcome!