Q: My boss has become very negative. She has always been demanding (I like working for someone with high standards) but this has tipped over into a relentless stream of criticism. Others have noticed too, but all attempts to suggest more carrot and less stick are dismissed as moaning.
Jeremy says: No one who's halfway decent enjoys ganging up on a boss and petitioning against them to a higher level. Those higher levels often find it necessary to defend the boss, so leaving the 'accusers' feeling bruised and belittled. Anonymity should always be shunned.
The chances are that your boss is an unhappy woman - and you'd do well to bear this in mind. She's not enjoying her life, which makes her scratchy and critical. And when all around her seems so bleak, she can summon up little in the way of praise and encouragement for others.
For the moment, your best course of action is to do everything you can to ignore her manner. I know it's not in your job description to help your boss, but there are times in office life when hierarchies should be ignored and support should be mutual. Try to involve her in projects by seeking her advice and letting her share in any small successes. With luck, her mood will lift.
If not, and sooner rather than later, senior management will have to do what senior management is paid to do.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.