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Managing a Bad Boss

Submitted by  on March 22nd, 2012

Frustrated young woman with hands on faceHave you ever had a manager that was a real pain in the neck? You know what I mean. They get in a bad mood often, keep you in the dark and try to avoid speaking with you unless it is to find fault with something you’ve done. And when you try to communicate with them, they just brush of your questions as being unimportant. I’ve had my share of bad bosses over the years. Here are some strategies that you may find helpful in dealing with the boss from hell.

  1. Don’t take their brash behavior personally. They probably treat all of their underlings the same rude way. If so, their behavior is most likely the result of their ingrained personality or serious problems they are having to deal with in their personal life.
  2. Bring to their attention the concrete effect that their behavior is having on your work performance. For example, if they neglected to tell you about yesterday’s project meeting, let them know that when you are not invited to project meetings you cannot rearrange your priorities to meet their deadlines. Make sure you stay unemotional, speak factually and don’t question their motives.
  3. When they find fault with your work, ask them for the specific details. When did the event occur? With whom? How could the situation have been improved? Make clear that you can’t improve your work for next time if you don’t know the nature of the problem.
  4. When they act reasonably and politely, compliment them. Even if the act is relatively insignificant, positive feedback such as this will encourage more of the behavior you want and expect. So, when they invite you to the next project meeting, make sure to say thank you for thinking of you.

What other strategies can you think of or that you have used successfully to turn around a bad boss? Let us hear you stories.

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Posted in Communication | Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Managing a Bad Boss”

  1. Joymalya Chakraborty Says:

    Worst part is if you work below the profile you expect nothing other than pile of works . My first Job was to teach 4 papers but was 9 papers apart from admin , one job later landed from morning 6 to night 12 most of the days without leave almost , one job landed teaching 11 faculty’s job along with admin …no where with any extra . Mostly in such cases any issues you better know , do yourself

  2. Bernie Althofer Says:

    I once worked with a man who could only be described as offensive. His initial approach was to be verbally abusive (continual use of obscene language) to anyone junior to himself. A middle manager had tried speaking to him about his conduct with no change forthcoming. The middle manager conferred with me and it was decided that we would give him a taste of his own medicince. We did not use obscenities, but we did engage in a shouting match. To our amazement, he said that he always respected people who stood up to him and he had been wondering when someone would do so. In this day and age, his behaviours would no doubt lead to a complaint or complaints of bullying and probably more. Our actions would probably not be acceptable, but they worked at the time.

  3. Leslie Allan Says:

    Hi Bernie, I had a similar experience when working for a major manufacturer. A boss above me in another department sent me an email telling me that the way I interviewed his staff was wrong. He wrote that this would be his last (and first) communication on the subject. It was a power play designed to put me in my place. He was well-known for the way he bullied his staff.

    I was so incensed at his underhand tactics that I planned on storming his office the next morning. Sure enough, come the next day, I barged into his office yelling my displeasure. From that point on, he respected me and even sent me a special invite to one of his meetings.

    I don’t encourage this as a normal way of dealing with conflict. For it to work, you need to keep in control of your emotions (yes, even when you are emoting anger), be very confident in your approach and pick carefully who you are going to use this strategy with. It can easily blow up in your face and make the situation worse.

    Les Allan
    Managing Director
    Business Performance Pty Ltd

  4. Karen Carleton Says:

    I had a horrible boss who systematically made baseless allegations against me after my job significantly changed and I complained. At issue also was that the company was not doing what it kept saying to the public. I kept asking objectively for details of my alleged inappropriate work behavior. He could never recall who said what when, etc. He couldn’t even remember what room he was going to chastize me in!!
    Staff often called the corporate lies “smoke and mirrors.” My solution: resigned without another job after reaching the breaking point before I would likely have been wrongly fired. After speaking with HR about it his behaviour worsened. I dreamt of writing an expose of their safety and other cover-ups right up the VP. The irony: in October that company’s top HR person in North America is speaking at a conference about all the good they do related to employee L & D/retention – the blatant lies continue. Glad I’m not helping with the cover-up any more.

  5. Leslie Allan Says:

    Hi Karen, Yes, I find leaving the best option. And if you are contemplating legal or other kinds of retributive action, think long and hard about the overall gain. Pick your battles very carefully as each action is very taxing on your time and nerves.

    I do remember well once being a very round peg in a very square hole. After five months and not getting anywhere with what amounted to an inept manager and well-meaning but ineffective HR Manager, I decided to resign. Sometimes we need to cut our losses and move on. Thanks Karen for sharing your personal story.

    Regards, Les Allan

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