Dorie L. Griggs

Do You Work For the 'Pointy-Haired Boss'?

By Dorie L. Griggs
First Published in Southern Newspaper Publishers Association eBulletin
June 26, 2003

Are you the "Pointy Haired Boss" (PHB) at the office? He is the boss in the popular Dilbert comic strip. Chances are you do not fit that description. Unfortunately, that type of supervisor wouldn't be reading this column.

So for the rest of you who may be working for a PHB-type person, take heart. You are not alone.

A positive work environment is one where the people feel they are valued. Their work experience is valued and ambition is rewarded. The trust level is high in positive work environments.

To be in that environment requires a manager with a strong sense of self worth. The manager who encourages rather than reprimands will see their staff flourish.

But what do you do if you work for a PHB?

A dear friend of mine who found himself working for a micro-manager once asked, "I know I can learn from every life situation. What am I supposed to learn from him?"

Sometimes we learn how not to behave, but keeping your integrity in the face of an oppressive situation is difficult.

Find the areas of your work that are positive and dwell on them. You can't ignore an overbearing person if you report to them, but you can continue to do your best work.

If you are in a stressful environment:

  • Make a list of known priorities. Keep to the list.

  • Communication may be difficult, but it can lead to understanding. Keep your boss informed of your work toward stated goals.

  • Stay positive. Keep a positive visual like a favorite photo or poem near your workspace. When you are feeling down, take a minute to reflect on a positive image.

Work situations will vary. If you have a problem with an individual in the work place you have a few options:

  • Address the problem directly with the person you are working with/for.

If that is not an option in your situation:

  • Seek the counsel of the Human Resource person in the organization. That person will advise you of company policies and any options you may have in the organization.

Ultimately, only you know what you can tolerate. In some cases you may need to decide to leave or change departments.

The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice.

Dorie L. Griggs holds a Master of Divinity degree and her ministry is to journalists. Contact her via e-mail:

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