How To Deal With Your Horrible Boss?

by Vault Careers | August 02, 2011

  • My Vault
  • • Sitting in fear, you anxiously count down until the end of another work day, hoping your boss doesn’t come up to you before 5 p.m. and belittle you for even the simplest of errors. 

  • • You glare into the office of your supervisor; angry thoughts filling your mind as you wonder how someone so incompetent could actually be in charge of your career.  Anger builds up more and more with each unintelligible decision he or she makes. 

  • • Your boss is smart and successful, but never seems to have the time to meet with you.  You end up waiting hours to get back reports or receive new tasks to accomplish.  You can only be so proactive and end up twiddling your thumbs, watching old episodes of the Office while you wait. 

Venting About a Bad Boss Can Be TherapeuticWhile the movie Horrible Bosses, might have been a bit over the top, there is some truth to the plight many employees face on a daily basis.  No matter how far we advance in our careers, eventually we are going to come across a boss that is either a tyrant, a fool, or too busy for his own good.   Some bosses don’t care, some are clueless as to the stress they cause their employees, and some mean very well and just don’t meet their employee’s needs.  These bosses affect our careers and we need to learn how to work within their strange quirks.  Here are some tips on how to deal with bad bosses:

1. Leave it at work.  Try not to take negative feelings home with you.  At the end of the day, unless you are a doctor, you are not curing cancer.  Those are words to live by.  You can only do your best, and hopefully, your best is good enough.  If it isn’t, then you need to examine whether there is more you can do.  Sometimes you need to take a long hard look at yourself.  What was my boss upset about?  Was he right to be upset?  If so, don't make the same mistake again. If not, maybe a job that respects your efforts is something you need to seek.  It’s as simple as that.  Let home be your respite from the rigors of work, as it is meant to be. 

2. Don’t take it personally. The problem is with your boss’s management skills or his personality, not you.  Just go about your job and, as stated above, do the best that you can.  A lot of times, you will discover that your boss doesn't mean anything by his actions and might even respect your work.  See how he treats others.  If he is like that with everyone, you have to decide if that is ok with you.  If it's not, then you have to give your next step some thought.  At the same time, don’t fall into a trap and shout back at your boss if he belittles you, no matter how embarrassed you are; don’t let your “stupid” boss know just how “stupid” you think he is; and don’t belittle your busy boss by demanding he get back to you in a timely manner.  These actions will only serve to hurt your career. 

3. Don’t talk to co-workers about it. While you shouldn't bring the stress home with you, sometimes it is all you can do, especially since what you say at work might come back and haunt you. You may feel close to a co-worker, but you may not know how close they are to your boss or another co-worker who might pass along your complaints to the wrong people.  Just grin and bear it at work and then go home and tell your significant other, or call a friend and have a venting session.  Then let it go.  You’ll feel better after you do.  Also, don’t vent on social media.  Nothing is private. 

4. Speak to your boss.  Don't talk to your co-workers, but you can speak with your supervisor if you feel it is warranted.  As long your boss is not entirely irrational, it may be worth it to air your concerns.  If the problem is getting out of hand, a professional conversation might be helpful.  Play to their ego a bit, but explain your situation and why his actions have been detrimental to your job performance.  Find out from him or her what it is they feel you can do better and try to accomodate their needs if justified.  It could lead to a more productive work environment.  Some bosses respect an honest opinion.  You might even find out your boss didn’t realize his or her behavior and might surprise you by changing to the best of their ability.  Or they might get worse, but sometimes it’s better to just express the problem and try to work toward a solution. 

5. Consult HR. This idea might not be the best idea.  There is a lot of mistrust when it involves HR.  They are not psychiatrists.  There is no doctor-patient confidentiality, but if you’ve witnessed your HR department handle things well, then maybe it is ok to turn to them.  They might have a better shot at changing your boss’ ways.  In some situations, they might help transfer you to other departments if you are having trouble dealing with the current environment. 

6. If all else fails, start looking for a new job. You don’t want to wait until things become unbearable or you risk being fired.  Sometimes, you just need to throw your hands up and start all over again.  But this shouldn’t be the first reaction.  If you like your job and like the people you work with, it’s better to try and defuse the situation before taking drastic action. 

--Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

Close button

Get tips on interviewing, networking, resumes, and more directly to your inbox.

No Thanks

Get Our Career Newsletter

Interview, resume and job search tips emailed directly to you.