5 Tips For Managing A Bad Boss

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December 19, 2013

Here are five tips for coping and handling your hard-to-deal-with boss.

By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

If you’ve ever been part of the American workforce, you’ve likely experienced a bad boss. (If you haven’t, I’d suggest buying a lottery ticket right now because you are one lucky son-of-a-gun.) Bad bosses crop up everywhere, not just within comic strips, sitcoms and restaurants with drive-thrus. They may be belligerent, belittling, controlling, narcissistic, clueless or even just plain ridiculous. If your current boss, manager or supervisor is a bad seed, consider the following tips to manage the situation.

1. Try not to take it personally.

If the boss belittles your contributions, disparages your suggestions and responds rudely to your questions, it’s easy to feel as though his or her behavior is your fault. But chances are, it’s not. Everyone has bad days, and your boss may just have more than most. This is not to say that you deserve to be treated with anything but respect, but letting those word-like sticks and stones break your metaphorical bones will only leave you feeling less than worthless. When your boss behaves like a petulant child, respond as an adult. You may even find yourself on the receiving end of an apology.

2. Document your worth.

You’re great at your job. Your co-workers appreciate you. Your clients appreciate you. It makes sense that your boss should appreciate you as well. Unfortunately, with a bad boss, this isn’t always the case. Some are clueless, with no real understanding of your contributions. Others are only looking out for themselves, taking credit for your accomplishments. When it comes time to request a raise, apply for a promotion or move on to a new job, you’re going to need concrete documentation of exactly what you’ve done and how it has improved the bottom line. Cold hard facts don’t lie.

3. Always ask questions.

Some bad bosses assume they’ve employed a staff of mind readers, never supplying enough information for you to do your job. Others don’t even bother to think about what they want, assuming you’ll figure it out for them. The best way to handle either of these bad boss incarnations is by asking questions. Ask a lot of questions –as many as you need in order to understand fully his or her expectations. If the answers remain vague, ask again. It doesn’t hurt to include a gentle reminder that adequate information will allow you complete the task correctly and efficiently.

4. Check in frequently.

Some bad bosses are micromanagers –wanting to know how your project is going or what you’ve been working on every minute of the workday. Not only is this behavior frustrating and a drain on your time, but it can also leave you feeling like you’re not trusted. The good news is that your boss’s trust issues are likely in regards to their own worth, not yours. The bad news is that micromanaging is an extremely difficult habit to break. Your best bet with this type of bad boss is to accept the situation and beat him (or her) to the punch by checking in frequently –before he even has a chance to interrupt your workflow.

5. Know when to say enough is enough.

Unfortunately, dealing with a bad boss can be stressful and disheartening. These managing tips may not work in all situations. If your boss is so inherently bad that you find yourself dreading every meeting, looking for excuses to take sick days, and losing all satisfaction in your job, it may be time to move on. Not all bosses are bad bosses –your next may be better than you ever imagined.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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