Just about everyone has had to deal with a bad boss — a supervisor who is mean, incompetent, manipulative, inappropriate, unprofessional, or all of the above. It’s like they say: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those who can’t teach, manage.
But how do you deal with a difficult boss, when you job relies on keeping this insane person happy?
The best advice is: find a new employer. You shouldn’t have to put up with an unprofessional supervisor, and a clean break is the best cure.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, this is not an immediate option, not in this economy.
Be unfailing professional. In the face of whatever bad boss behavior is driving you crazy, be calm, businesslike and mature. Of course, any employee or employer should behave this way anyway. But by being aggressively professional despite your boss’ antics, you will (1) impress other people at the company, including someone who might be in the position to get you out from under this bad boss, and (2) you might — might— actually influence your boss to behave better.
Some people call this “managing up,” a term I hate because it implies it’s your job to fix your boss. It’s not — but any positive steps you can take will just make your life easier.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If your boss ignores your emails, gives contradictory instructions, or plans meetings during lunch without providing food, you’re just going to have to live with it until you get out of there.
Report the big stuff. If your boss is sexually harassing you, or physically or emotionally abusing you, you do not have to put up with this, nor should you. Go straight to your HR manager, if the firm has one. If you work at a small firm, consider speaking to a lawyer or a government agency. But this kind of thing is not okay.
Don’t badmouth your boss to other people at the firm. Everyone probably already knows your boss is insane, and will show you sympathy and may even be able to help you deal with him or her. But if you go around criticizing your boss to everyone, this will be noticed by management, who may come to see you as more of a problem than your supervisor. If you have to vent, vent at home. And don’t write criticism of your boss in IM or on email at work –your company can read that stuff!
Have any more advice about dealing with bad bosses? Let us know in the comments!How to Deal With a Bad Boss by Erik Even