How to Manage a Bad Boss

Every woman will come in contact with a bad boss at least once in her career.

Every woman will come in contact with a bad boss at least once in her career.

When you feel as if you're playing Bob Cratchit to your manger's rendition of Scrooge from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," you must take control of the situation or continue to suffer the consequences. One solution is to maintain a positive attitude and use a proactive approach to discover the motivation behind his actions. These clues, along with the efforts you make to establish a positive working relationship with your boss, are critical to a constructive work environment and personal success on the job.

Ask for clear and concise communication. A boss that speaks in generalities or ambiguities might do so to avoid taking responsibility for the results if you fail. You need to pin your boss down when he is being too vague. Ask for specifics and means to quantify the assignment. If for instance, your boss indicates that you need to increase sales, ask him for a specific number or percentage that represents the increase to him.

Be polite and avoid mirroring your manager's negative behavior. Some managers act like jerks, have tantrums or behave emotionally. The trick to managing this kind of behavior is to not react to it. Instead, stay centered and respond professionally. Your controlled response can have a calming effect on a boss that behaves inappropriately.

Cope with a micromanager by being proactive. Micromanagers want to control every little detail because they don't trust others to complete the work successfully. Ask to work on the projects where your boss has little to no expertise. Take control of the situation by setting up meetings ahead of time that allow you to discuss key points of the project. Give your boss the security he needs by keeping him in the loop. When you take a proactive approach with a micromanager, and keep him informed, he develops security with you and your work product. This helps him feel comfortable as it releases his need to manage the details.

Record your accomplishments to protect yourself from a bad boss. Document your work and keep track of your accomplishments. Create a file with project specifics and record the significance of the project's accomplishments. Keep this information in a place where you can access but avoid keeping it on company computers. Keep all information in a private file that you can take with you when you leave the company.

Derail an accusatory boss by providing evidence that supports your position. Along with the personal records you keep of accomplishments, evidence like data or email printouts can help to smooth your manager's ruffled feathers.

Maintain positive relationships with other managers and department heads. By networking in your work environment, opportunities present themselves that can lead to team job assignments and possible promotions outside of the employee-boss relationship that you have. Avoid making negative remarks about your boss to in-office contacts; this will reflect poorly on you in their eyes.

Make no assumptions about your bosses expected behavior. Be aware that your boss might have more on her plate than you know. She might have a boss that nitpicks her or is a micromanager. Use active listening and pay close attention to what your boss says. Ask for clarification if you misunderstand.

Develop a sense of empathy for your boss and his problems. People with bad behavior aren't necessarily bad people. Your boss could be experiencing personal misfortune, going through a divorce, have a sick child or is taking care of an aging parent. Personal problems can affect the way people behave in the work environment. When you develop empathy, this can positively change the energy of the situation. At the least, you'll feel better.

Apply ample doses of humor. Laughter diffuses tense situations and relieves stress. Talk to friends outside of the work environment to help lighten your mood. Instead of getting upset over past events between you and your boss, find the humor in the situation and laugh about it.

Wait for the situation to resolve. Chances are that your boss might be undergoing a disciplinary action already. A boss that consistently behaves badly can't hide her behavior from others in the work environment. Keep focused on your career goals; maintain your work ethics and positive attitude. How you handle yourself when you work for a bad boss does not go unnoticed by others in the work environment. Hold your ground until you achieve the results you seek.

Tip

  • If your boss violates your personal rights by harassing you, makes incendiary prejudicial or discriminative comments, or behaves in a manner that is clearly against the law, you will need to report this to the HR department. Discrimination is against federal law in the work environment for protected classes. Be prepared with evidence to support your position. Avoid reacting emotionally. Stay cool, calm and collected. Remain professional at all times.
 

About the Author

As a native Californian, artist, businessperson, contractor, journalist and published author, Laurie Reeves began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. In 2003, she and her husband moved into the home she designed, they built and decorated. Reeves graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.

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