A bad boss colors everything: You might drive to work dreading your day. You might have a moment of hope when you submit your latest work only to have it criticized or ignored, and then your day is ruined. You might have a sick feeling in your stomach as you work. You might wake up from nightmares dreaming about your boss. A terrible boss is invasive to the heart, mind and soul for many people.
Here are a few ideas on tackling a difficult boss
Make Sure You’re Dealing With a “Bad Boss”
Before trying to fix your bad boss, make sure you really are dealing with one. Is there a reason for her behavior, or are you being too hard on him or her?
“Observe your boss for a few days and try to notice how many things she does well versus poorly. When she is doing something “bad,” try to imagine the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred. Is it truly her fault, or could it be something out of her control?”
Identify Your Boss’ Motivation
Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give you insight into his or her management style.
“…if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’ motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it looks to other employees and their superiors.”
Don’t Let it Affect Your Work
No matter how bad your boss’ behavior, avoid letting it affect your work. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!).
Stay One Step Ahead
Especially when you’re dealing with a micromanager, head off your boss’ requests by anticipating them and getting things done before they come to you.
“…a great start to halting micromanagement in its tracks is to anticipate the tasks that your manager expects and get them done well ahead of time. If you reply, ‘I actually already left a draft of the schedule on your desk for your review,’ enough times, you’ll minimize the need for her reminders. She’ll realize that you have your responsibilities on track and that she doesn’t need to watch your every move.”
Working with someone who seems to have no boundaries means that you have to go ahead and set them.
“One of the challenges of unlikable people is that they come with equally unlikable behavior and it’s important to learn how to distance yourself from that behavior.
Stop Assuming They Know Everything
Just because someone has a managerial title doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, all the time.
Act as the Leader
When dealing with an incompetent boss, sometimes it’s best to make some leadership decisions on your own.
If you know your area well enough, there is no reason to not go ahead creating and pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines the boss, so keep him or her in the loop.
If you are moving to a new organization, do your research to make sure you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.