A bad boss can turn a job that sounds exciting on paper into a job that no one would want. It can be easy to start feeling resentful towards your boss. But many times, managers don’t even know that they’re irritating their employees. The onus is on you to make the situation more favorable. So how do you deal with a bad boss?
Facing the problems you have with your boss just takes a little bit of observation, planning, and self-control. Here are six suggestions on how you can craft your bad-boss strategy:
1. Get to know your boss’s habits
Are there certain times of the week or certain situations that bring out the worst qualities in your boss? “My boss can be a micromanager sometimes, so I’ve started writing out a weekly schedule of all my tasks for the week. It both helps me stay organized, and keeps him up to date with what I’m working on. If he asks about the timeline for a certain task, I can just point him to my schedule,” says Erin, Tel Aviv. Observe what sets your boss off, so you know how to avoid it, or at least prepare for the situations that you know are going to be tense.
2. Ask your boss how you can do better
This strategy will allow you to broach the topic of you and your boss’s relationship without you having to say why you’re bringing it up. If your boss responds with some simple fixes to your behavior or work that you can make in order to make things run more smoothly, this could be the key to the conflict. This can also give you the opportunity to explain why you might not be meeting your boss’s expectations, and find out what those expectations even are in the first place.
3. Save the sass
It may be tempting to speak derisively or combatively, or even try to mask your dissatisfaction with passive aggressive words or behavior. Don’t. In the long run, being sassy to your boss will just cause your relationship to deteriorate even further. In fact, the very reason why your boss is acting in a way that rubs you the wrong way could be because it’s a response to your attitude, creating a downward spiral that’s not likely to pick up – unless you take the first step and communicate with kindness, patience, and understanding.
[Related: How To Handle Any Kind of Manager]
Imagine you are taking the bad feelings you might be experiencing from your boss and tuck them away into a mental compartment to be dealt with after the work day. Dwelling on these feelings during the work day will only be distracting and distressing. Save dealing with these feelings until you’re in a clearer headspace, rather than surrounded by the stresses of the workday.
5. Don’t gossip
“One time I was gossiping about my boss with a client, and when I turned around, she was right behind me! Not a good look,” says Marie, New York. While it’s undeniably fun to indulge in gossip with your co-workers, be mindful of what you’re putting out. If there’s a serious issue with your boss, schedule a meeting or date with a coworker to talk about that issue. Your boss’s idiosyncrasies should not be the butt of coffee-break jokes. Once mean-spirited words leave your lips in a public forum, you never know who they’ll get back to – it could be your boss!
6. If all else fails, it’s okay to leave
If you’ve exhausted all options, and your boss is posing a serious threat to your professional advancement, daily productivity, or personal mental health, don’t be shy to leave that boss behind. Leaving doesn’t even necessarily mean quitting, although you can do that too. See if there are options to switch teams or departments in your company, or even start work on a project where you’re more autonomous from the boss that is causing you anguish. Staying tough is important, but it’s even more important to know where your limits are!