When Bosses go Bad

bad bossesI’ve been in your shoes. I’ve had jobs where the manager or boss is so unbelievably horrible that you actually consider handing in your resignation despite how much you enjoy the other aspects of your career.

The worst of the worst are those who fail to trust and respect their employees, those who intimidate their employees, and those who are just plain power hungry. I’ve been in jobs where the boss is just incapable of performing their job and you are left scratching your head wondering how they managed to get the position in the first place. You may have a boss who chooses to criticize you in front of others, or gives out assignment but never follows up on them. There are bosses who are “micro-managers”, and those who haven’t got a clue how to plan and prioritize.

There are a lot of pitfalls when it comes to having a bad manager. It can cause employees to feel frustrated, unhappy and unmotivated. None of these feels are good for the employee, the boss, or the company.

The best way to deal with situations such as this is to ensure you are not the only one who thinks this way. Find someone who you are sure you can trust and tell them about your situation. This is your “sanity check”. It’s very easy to read more into a situation than what is there and this first step will help to ensure you aren’t taking anything out of context.

The next step is to understand your boss. It could be that you and the boss are just not a good fit. You may be someone who needs a hands-on type boss, but if you are in a situation where your boss thinks that by being hands-off is a method to empower the employees; you may run into difficulties in dealing with one another.

Your boss may be lacking the training or skills necessary to fulfil the job requirements. This happens quite often in companies simply because promotions are often rewards for good employees; but being a good employee doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a good boss.

Next, you can try talking to your boss. Tell him/her what you need as an employee (and this could be anything from feedback to support in your position). Do not, however, tell your boss that (s)he is a bad boss. Ask how you can help your boss to reach their goals.

If this still doesn’t help the situation, your next step could be to go to your boss’ manager and ask for assistance. Before you take this action, be sure to realize that this is a step that your manager may not forgive easily, if ever. Often, if you turn things over to someone in a higher position, you may not hear from them with regards to what (if any) action has taken. You’ll need to be prepared to give this step a lengthy amount of time before you may see any results.

As a last resort, you could also ask for a transfer – either to another department or another location. Of course, if this is not an available option, searching for a new job may be your only solution.

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2 Comments

  • C says:

    ‘handing in your recognition’? I think you meant ‘resignation’

  • Margaret says:

    If you’re uncomfortable enough to go to your boss to discuss the situation be sure to relate how interested you are in trying to relate to his goals and how you want to support them.
    Try to make it about the goals and what you should be doing to meet them and avoid any personality issues if you can.
    With a bad boss you will never know how this conversation will be taken – so be careful.
    One thing – if there are issues, try to get them resolved quickly.
    Don’t let problems drag out – if it’s a bad situation and you’re not the only one feeling this way, try to speak up sooner. What can happen is the rest of the team could start their discussions first and gain the confidence of the bad boss. By default, the bad boss could start seeing you as the proverbial ‘bad apple’ and that is not a good thing. Try not to stand out like that – it rarely works and the consequences are not as well controlled; much better to manage tthe situation while you look for alternative employment.

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