No one promised you a great boss as a condition of employment. You get paid whether your boss is good or bad. Your job, then, is to figure out how to deal with your boss’s behavior so that you can do good work anyway.
Your career rides on the way you overcome adversity. Whether you’re aware of it or not, everyone is watching the way you problem solve and overcome obstacles to do what you’re there to do: Get the work done.
Chances are the higher ups are aware, to some degree, of the ineffective behaviors of your boss. And they’re also aware of how the boss’s employees are reacting, including you. So just keep doing your best.
Turn frustration into advantage.
If you really care about your career, you won’t let a bad boss get in your way. Instead you’ll seize the opportunity to develop the skills and abilities you need to deal with her effectively.
So instead of spending your time complaining or wallowing or bemoaning, start observing, planning, and acting to minimize the negative effects of the “bad” behavior your boss exhibits.
Strive to stay focused on what really matters and what doesn’t.
Put into effect an employee development program of your own making.
We need to be fair. Most bosses are not evil doers; they no more want to be bad in their jobs than we do.
Your “bad” boss may very well be struggling to survive herself, contending with her limitations, trying to untangle mixed signals from above and needs from her employees.
Many bosses know they aren’t effective, don’t know why, and can’t figure out how to become “good.” So let’s not be too hard on them. One day you may walk in their shoes.
It’s important to take time to get a sense of what drives your bad boss, so you can find a way to work with him effectively.
Most bad bosses suffer from a predominant supervisory flaw. That’s the one you want to focus on to start.
Pinpoint the specific behaviors and develop actions you need in order to work with, through, or around them.
Here are three types of bad bosses, their typical behaviors, potential underlying reasons for them, and actions you might take to contend with them.
1. The Micromanager
- Behaviors: Constantly checking on your work, nit picking, inflexibility, second-guessing
- Potential Reasons: Fear of failure/criticism, low confidence in employees, job insecurity
- What you can do: Pay full and consistent attention to details, submit work before deadlines, proactively give progress reports, comply with required processes
3. The Intimidator
- Behaviors: No or terse communication, distant, difficult to approach, critical
- Potential Reasons: Sense of superiority, self-absorbed, distrust of other’s ideas, desire for control,
- What you can do: Initiate opportunities to meet even if it’s unnerving; be uber prepared and clear in your agenda, presentation, or proposal; ask for feedback and a next step meeting/conversation; don’t quail; repeat until the ice is thawed
4. The Wheel Spinner
- Behaviors: No clearly communicated direction, disorganized, routinely shifts gears and changes assignments midstream
- Potential Reasons: Lack of confidence/clarity, fear of failure, poor business acumen, lack of awareness about what it takes to get work done
- What you can do: Increase your own organization, engage your boss in conversation about work and suggest ideas, build confidence in your contributions, anticipate needs
The workplace is a tangled web. Everyone is caught up in it with your boss at the center. You can choose to become a victim or to figure out how to navigate the strands.
If you want to stand out…to be noticed for the right things…then use your time with that bad boss to strengthen your communication, relationship building, collaborative, and work management skills.
No one’s going to send you to “Dealing with a Bad Boss” training, so it makes sense to develop your skills on your own. Your career will reward you for it. Onward!
Photo by noii’s via Photoree