Surviving a bad boss: tips on dealing with a difficult manager
By Joyce E.A. Russell
Most everyone can say they’ve worked for a bad boss. You know — those supervisors who dictate what you’ll work on and how you’ll do it, and then find fault if it doesn’t turn out the way they wanted it.
Bad bosses take the credit for the successes in the group but blame others for failures. They treat people according to rank, or maybe they’re racist or sexist, or they play favorites or are bullies. They suck the energy out of the team rather than inspire the group.
Enough said. If you’re stuck with a bad boss, here are some things you can do to survive.
Train your boss
Some bosses suffer from a lack of training; maybe yours never had guidance on leadership, supervision or diversity. Talk to the human resources department if your company has one. If not, you might need to talk to your boss. Directly, but politely, tell him or her about your needs for timely, specific feedback or goals.
Develop a positive relationship
Bosses are more apt to help you if they like you. This might not be a plausible strategy, but if it makes sense, try to befriend your boss. What are his or her hobbies? Interests? Goals at work? The more you understand your boss, the more you might be able to help meet his or her needs -- and yours as a result.
Understand your boss’s moods and style
Maybe there are certain times -- such as end-of-the-month number crunching -- when it would be wise to postpone a talk with your boss. Or maybe he or she is introverted and likes to see things in writing before discussing them. This doesn’t mean you always have to accommodate your boss; it just means you need to pay attention and learn how and when to best communicate.
Keep your boss informed
It’s important to periodically keep your boss informed about things you are doing to support the department or the firm. Bosses don’t know everything that’s going on, and they do like to hear what their employees are doing to support their agenda and the company’s mission.
Find a mentor
If you hate your boss but love the nature of your work or your company, another solution is to develop a mentoring relationship with a manager or peer in another department. Mentors can provide the career guidance and visibility you need to help you move forward in the organization. They can also provide psychosocial support, from offering advice to being a sounding board.
Report your boss
You might have to report your boss’s actions or performance to a higher-up or to someone in human resources. You may need to gather data from co-workers or others to support your case. Because of confidentiality issues, you aren’t likely to hear what the higher-level manager or HR department said or did to deal with your boss.
Find other options
If you can’t find a way to resolve the issue, and/or your boss simply will not make a change in behavior, you should start networking, check our availble Vacancies, looking for a new job. If you like your company, a transfer might be an option. You’ll need a strong support group within the company to help you make the transfer, especially if you don’t want to ask your boss for a recommendation.