Career Tips

Proven Ways to Work with a Bad Boss

Date Posted: 05/6/2015

You can choose your friends, colleagues, hairdresser, spouse and even your doctor, but you never have a choice of bosses.  Whether working on a ship out at sea, in a fancy hotel resort, or at a specialty healthcare institution, the bad boss is everywhere, making working life miserable. If you happen to have a bad boss, statistics are on your side as majority of employees feel that handling their boss is one of the most frustrating features that affect their careers. Remember, good or bad, he or she didn’t become a boss by accident. It took years to prove them being worthy to become boss. So it is a problem of human nature and must be handled accordingly.

Like it or not, you will sooner than later be lumped with a jerk as your boss who will test your wellbeing till either he or you get promoted or you run away, unless you learn how to handle him before this happens. However, to progress in your job, you can never resist or challenge the boss openly. Therefore, to succeed in your career irrespective, show respect at all times and explore how to minimize the problem.

Identify the ‘bad’ traits.

Other that any interpersonal or personal problems that you and your boss may be having, let us pinpoint what identifies your boss as ‘bad”.

Does he have vision to look beyond the immediate and see the bigger picture or does he always have to have his own way and is often irrational?
Does she show capacity for leadership and sustained performance?
Does he have character, tactical intelligence, ethics, and the ability for logical persuasion
Can she make a rational argument without losing her cool or ramming her view down your throat, relying only on her authority to enforce her ways?
Does he generally inspire the loyalty, cooperation and confidence of his subordinates?
Is she scheming and uses blaming others to get ahead? Is she unreliable in owning up to her own mistakes?
Is he arrogant; rejecting all inputs not originated by him and always downplaying suggestions from below, refusing to accept ideas from anyone?
Does she get quickly irritated when subordinates fail to understand or disagree with her points of view, or does she show cool patience in logically explaining her argument?
Does he ensure that all relevant information filters clearly downwards for all to understand and follow?
Is she suspicious of everyone and lacking trust of her subordinates?
Does he show any understanding, supportiveness and appreciation in his leadership style?
Does she vary her management style in handling different issues according to complexity, or is she always inflexible and rigid?
Does his prioritization match the departmental objectives or is he unfocused and confused about the sequence and manner of issue resolutions?
Is she customer committed and quality conscious, or casual about the importance of product quality?
Is he capable of mentoring, guiding and developing his team?
Is she courageous and willing to be accountable, always shielding her juniors from blame?
Does he spread a positive culture of cooperative thinking and effort in the work environment?
Does she pass off all good ideas from others as her own?

However bad it may be, surviving under a bad boss is critical, and you have to find a way for interacting with your boss that will allow you to function in the difficult environment till relief arrives.

Be a survivor and wait it out.

Take comfort in the fact that other managers are likely well aware of what is happening and that it won’t last forever, particularly if many are also suffering around you. Focus on doing a good job, building up a relationship of mutual understanding with other seniors beyond departmental boundaries, ensuring that people above and beyond your own department know you as a good worker, neutral and uncomplaining, and capable of performing despite the circumstances.

Tread carefully.

Avoid gossip or discussing with colleagues the traits of your bad boss as you never know whether it might get back to him/her. If you must share your problems with someone, confine your concerns only to HR seniors — that too, with caution.

Reveal your frustrations.

Tactfully confront your bad boss without aggression showing concern about the pressures he’s under, and offer to shoulder workload more than your duty to relieve him. Let him know about the confusions and frustrations of others, and ask how you can help. If he responds positively, explore ways to support his work rather than resist him.

Don’t succumb to irritations.

Never sulk or get depressed about this problem because this situation is nothing more than a   passing moment in your long life. This bad phase will end, but you will live with yourself forever. Concentrate on ways to realize your life goals.

Distance yourself; go it alone.

Though it’s not your boss’s responsibility to promote your career, he/she is definitely there to motivate, develop and direct your work. If your boss cannot do this, find a mentor for self- development. Involve yourself in different projects that would expose you to other managers and their styles.

Don’t imitate the Bad Boss’ mistakes.

Make use of this experience by taking note of all the negative traits of your bad boss and remember to avoid them when you become a boss yourself. Feel the negative energy created by your boss’s behavior on you and develop into an outstanding leader yourself.

While observing the above suggestions for some relief, keep pursuing other extreme options. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen but continue to seek out other job options within (and beyond) the organization. If you’re a proven performer, HR will not want to lose you when they understand your reason for seeking a transfer to other departments.

©2015 Ikon Solutions Asia, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this article shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from Ikon. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this article, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein.

Ikon specifically disclaims any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this article.