Most people have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a bad boss at some point.
Bad bosses can come in many shapes and sizes. Perhaps they are disorganized, bad communicators, quick to anger, a bully, or some misery-inducing mix of all the above. The good thing is, there are certain things you can do to deal with your bad boss more effectively while still keeping your job (if that’s what you want to do).
1. Evaluate the situation
Before you can successfully deal with a bad boss, it’s helpful to evaluate the situation objectively to determine what is making things unpleasant at work. If a big deadline is looming, money has been tight, or your company recently lost a client, it’s easy to see why your boss has been more difficult. Another possibility is that you and your boss simply don’t mesh well. Give yourself an honest evaluation to determine if you share any responsibility for the eroding relationship. However, sometimes a boss is just a bully and there is no external cause for the conflict. Regardless of which reasons you identify, there is no excuse for a boss to treat you poorly. You deserve respect and courtesy in the workplace, no matter what the circumstances.
2. Assess your options
Once you have an idea about what the problem is with your boss, you can start looking for a solution. If it seems that a specific event is causing your boss’s nastiness, it may be easiest just to wait it out. Another possibility is that you have realized that you share some of the responsibility for the bad blood between you and your boss. Learning to avoid the mistakes that bother your boss could go a long way towards improving the relationship. However, sometimes looking for a different job, transferring to another department, or going back to school may be the best way to deal with an unpleasant work environment. For instance, if you find that you’re truly unhappy at work and this is causing your work to suffer or that your boss is just a mean, unreliable, or overly-demanding person, getting out may be the best choice.
3. Talk it out
At some point, you will probably need to have a conversation with your boss about the office tension. To help ensure a productive conversation, avoid accusing your boss of being the bad guy. Use statements such as “I feel like things in the office have been difficult lately” rather than “you’ve been a jerk lately.” Making the conversation about your feelings rather than her behavior will prevent your boss from getting defensive and, ideally, lead to helpful feedback and problem solving. If you’ve decided to leave your job, communicate this decision to your boss respectfully. Let her know that you appreciate everything you’ve learned at the job and don’t burn your bridges, just in case you need a reference down the road.
4. Ask for help
As mentioned several times already, some bosses are just bullies. No amount of hard work or good communication on your part will fix the situation. In these circumstances, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your HR department or an outside source. Be sure to document the inappropriate or abusive actions by your boss. Save all emails, text messages, or memos to support your cause. Also, make note in a journal of any verbal remarks or bad behavior, including the date, time, and a factual description of the incident. Use this information to back up your claims when you talk to the higher-ups.
Bad bosses can make any job unbearable. If you’ve decided to escape, going back to school is an excellent way to expand your career options and find a job you truly love. Whatever you decide, remember that nobody has a right to treat you badly.
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