You’re weary. You’re frustrated. You’re unhappy. You’re demotivated. Your interaction with your boss leaves you cold. Your boss is a bully, intrusive, controlling, picky or petty. You are desperately wondering how you can professionally deal with a bad boss.
Your boss takes credit for your work, never provides positive feedback, and misses each meeting that was scheduled with you. Or your boss caves immediately under pressure and fails to support you in accomplishing your job. Your bad boss never recognizes your excellent performance nor that of any other employee, so the office is joyless and unhappy.
Your boss is a bad boss, bad to the bone. Dealing with less than an effective manager, or just plain bad managers and bad bosses is a challenge too many employees face. No matter the character of your bad boss, these ideas will help you deal with them.
Your Bad Boss May Be Unaware He or She Is Bad
Start your campaign by understanding that your boss may not know that he or she is a bad boss. Just as in situational leadership, the definition of bad depends on the employee’s needs, the manager’s skills, and the circumstances of the situation.
A hands-off manager may not realize that their failure to provide any direction or feedback makes them a bad boss. Your boss may think he or she is empowering the staff. A manager who provides too much direction and micromanages may feel insecure and uncertain about their own job. This boss may not realize their direction is insulting to a competent, secure, self-directed staff member.
Or, maybe the boss lacks training and is so overwhelmed with his or her job requirements that they can’t provide support for you. Perhaps your boss has been promoted too quickly, or the staff reporting responsibilities have expanded beyond his or her competence and reach. In these days of downsizing, responsibilities are often shared by fewer staff members than ever before which can affect their ability to do the job well.
This bad boss may not share your values. The youngest generations of workers expect that they can use their vacation time and take action to make work-life balance a priority. A flexible work schedule may make the job their dream job. But, not all bosses share these views. Some, for example, think that remote workers harm the culture and interfere with developing a culture of teamwork.
If your values are out of sync with those of your boss, and you don’t think this imbalance will change, you do have a problem. Maybe it’s time to change bosses. But, until then, these actions are recommended for you to preserve your relationship, such as it is.
How to Approach Dealing With an Unwitting Bad Boss
- Talk to this boss. Tell the boss what you need to succeed in terms of direction, feedback, and support. Be polite and focus on your needs. You need to tell the boss exactly what you need from them. Telling the boss that he or she is a lousy boss is counterproductive and won’t help you meet your goals.
- Ask the manager how you can help them reach the goals they want to achieve. Make sure you listen well and provide the needed assistance he requests.