Bad bosses come in many forms – they may be controlling, disrespectful, petty, unsupportive, critical, hypocritical, or simply a poor leader. Many victims of bad bosses end up leaving their job, but sometimes they just haven’t worked hard enough for a solution. If you are reaching the end of your tether, try these tips.
1. Make an effort to understand your boss’s behaviour.
Your boss may not actually know that his behaviour is inappropriate and discussing it may be the only intervention that is needed. Other times, you may realise that your boss’s expectations are actually reasonable – maybe there is something simple YOU can do to improve your relationship with your boss. However, if his behaviour is intentional or heavily ingrained, understanding the motivation behind it can still allow you to talk to him about it in a constructive way or help you find ways to circumvent it.
2. Identify the ‘triggers’ that make your boss act badly, and do what you can to avoid them.
Even if a certain expectation your boss has seems unreasonable, sometimes meeting it is easier than potential conflict. Understand his preferences in terms of how and when work is completed and work with them – even if they are not perfectly in line with your own. Where possible, attention the triggers and resolve them yourself. After all, you are employed to action solutions and going out of your way always gets noticed by someone
3. Whatever you do, don’t try to punish your boss by reducing the speed or quality of your work.
Being a valuable team member, you will be in a much better position to negotiate better terms of work and retain your boss’s respect. If you stay on top of your workload, there will be far fewer issues with your boss to begin with. Anticipate what your boss needs and surprise him by having it done ahead of time. Support his weaknesses and pick up his slack, even if you find it hard – by working towards your boss’s success, you will be working towards your own and making him happier and easier to manage in the process.
4. Keep track of all communication with your boss.
Write down every time your boss does or says something rude or inappropriate and record key information that passes between you so that if he contradicts himself, you can prove it. Get all requests and assignments in writing so that there can be no misunderstandings.
5. When your boss says something that is blatantly inappropriate, call him on it in a respectful way.
Calmly repeat it back to him and ask if that’s what he really meant. If you continue to do this, he may start to recognise and modify his behaviours. Don’t allow your boss to intimidate or upset you. Recognise that the problem is not yours, it is theirs.
6. If you do decide to confront your boss about an issue, wait until you are prepared.
After a lot of thinking and with a clear head, consider writing down or rehearsing what you want to say beforehand. Schedule a time to talk to your boss when he will have time to really hear you out. Focus on your needs, and what you want to see from your relationship in order to work towards a better working environment and better outcomes for the company. Don’t simply tell him what he has been doing wrong! If he responds with criticisms of you, listen and respond to them calmly. A relationship is a two-way street, and as much as you need him to make compromises, you need to be prepared to do the same.
As hard as it is, don’t quit a job without at least bringing the problem up – if not with your boss, then with higher management. If you don’t voice your issues, you will never know whether they could have been solved.