How To Get Going With A Bad Boss.
The Strategies That Can Help You To Deal With A Horrible Boss At Work.
Bad bosses are common in the American workforce, despite the $15 billion spent annually on managerial and leadership development. According to a study by Life Meets Work, 56% of American workers believe their boss is mildly or highly toxic. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 75% of Americans say their boss is the most stressful aspect of their workday.
In addition, according to a recent Gallup poll, one out of every two employees has left a job “to get away from their manager at some point in their career.”
Surprisingly, though, another study found that employees end up working longer (two years, on average) for toxic bosses than nontoxic bosses. Why?
It’s difficult to give up.
For a variety of reasons, people continue to work for bosses they dislike. Some of the most common reasons include:
- I’m not in the mood to look for a new job.
- My job, coworkers, and commute are all things I enjoy.
- I am in desperate need of money. I can’t afford to take a pay cut.
- There are no other jobs that are more suitable.
- I don’t want to lose my advantages.
- I’ve put too much money into this company to start over.
- This job is far too lucrative to leave.
- I lack the necessary skills to obtain a different position.
- Things might get better.
Many of the above justifications are based on basic psychological dynamics. People who are in high-stress situations frequently experience emotional exhaustion, which saps their energy and makes it difficult to find a new situation. It’s difficult to quit if you don’t have another job lined up, and it’s even more difficult to find another job when you’re exhausted. Emotional exhaustion also makes it difficult for people to imagine a better future, leading to a sense of hopelessness.
Another psychological process that makes it difficult to give up something you have is loss aversion. We tend to want to keep what we’ve worked so hard for. Salary, status, stability, seniority, social connections, and all the other benefits we’ve accumulated over the years could all be examples of this in the workplace.
Furthermore, research shows that people who work in “high meaning” jobs stay in toxic situations longer. In other words, people stay in jobs where they are emotionally invested and engaged, even if their bosses treat them badly.
Finally, we may wish for a cruel boss to change his or her ways, for the organisation to take action, and for things to improve.
While staying put may appear to be safer than leaving, it actually carries a number of risks. According to a study of 3,122 Swedish male employees, those who work for toxic bosses are 60% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening cardiac condition. Other research in American workplaces has found that people who work for toxic bosses are more likely to experience chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which raise the risk of a weakened immune system, colds, strokes, and even heart attacks. According to some studies, recovering physically and emotionally from a toxic boss can take up to 22 months. While the prospect of quitting can be frightening, staying in a job with a toxic boss can be even more so.
How do you handle it?
Bad bosses must be dealt with seriously. If quitting isn’t an option right now, there are some practical steps you can take to lessen the impact of working for a toxic boss. While specific strategies depend on the kind of boss you have, e.g. bullies, narcissists, etc., there are some general approaches that can help you manage the situation.
Forget about providing feedback. Instead, make requests.
It’s usually a good idea to approach your boss and inquire about the situation. A difficult boss, on the other hand, is unlikely to be receptive to criticism of his or her shortcomings. So try making specific requests to get what you need. Explain your reasoning and how this will benefit them and the organisation. Be specific about the resources and support you need to do your job. Consider the timing and try to have these conversations with your boss when he or she is calm and upbeat. Make sure to plan ahead of time, practice, and anticipate responses.
Engage with your support network.
When dealing with an emotionally difficult situation, having a strong support network is essential. Surround yourself with friends and people who support and encourage you. Outside of work, find ways to socialise and de-stress. Speak with a professional coach, therapist, or another trained individual.
Make sure you get enough exercise and sleep.
It is critical to look after your physical and mental health. Take a break from work if it is possible. Find activities that bring you joy and satisfaction outside of work. Yoga and meditation are examples of mindfulness and relaxation practises. Practice positive self-talk by reminding yourself that you are not the problem. Remember that you have no control over how your boss acts, but you do have control over how you react to it.
Look for other opportunities within your company.
There may be ways to get away from your toxic boss without leaving your company. Investigate other positions within the company that interest you, meet with colleagues and managers from different departments, consider how your skills might be applied, and make a case for your transition.
Consult with human resources.
Before approaching your HR department, find out how they handle employee complaints. Tell them about your problems with your boss and what you’ve done to try to resolve the situation. They may have already assisted others in similar situations and may be able to offer solutions you hadn’t considered.
Know when to leave.
Of course, you must be willing to accept that quitting may be the best option. There are a few clear indicators that it’s time to move on to the next position. If you dread going to work every day, if you feel physically or mentally unsafe at work if you spend more time thinking about your boss than your work, if stress from work permeates the rest of your life, if your self-esteem has plummeted, it’s time to go. You must give yourself permission to change careers — to let go of hope for a better future and to face your fear of quitting.
It’s critical to quit as professionally and gracefully as possible once you’ve made your decision. While it may be tempting to leave in a blaze of rage and profanity, this rarely works out in the long run. Bridges should not be burned. Here are some pointers:
Make a plan for your next move.
There is no magic bullet here; all you have to do is start looking for work.
Give adequate notice.
Most industries require two weeks’ notice. Giving more time is always an option, but if at all possible, avoid giving less. Prepare a formal resignation letter and inform your boss in person that you are leaving. Remember that resignation letters are frequently filed in employee files and may be used as a reference if your former boss is ever contacted for one. Make sure your letter is composed in a professional manner.
Make a timeline for the transitions.
Make your transition plans crystal clear. Before you leave, decide what you’re going to do and stick to it. If you say you’ll finish a project, keep your word. Don’t take on more than you can handle but don’t forget about the things you promised to take care of. Keep your boss and team up to date on the status of all your projects, and so on.
Prepare to leave early.
If your boss is truly toxic, you could be fired as soon as you give notice. Before you give notice, make sure you have your personal belongings, contact information, important papers, commendations, and so on organised. Ensure that all company property is returned in a timely and proper manner. Make sure you have proper documentation that you’ve returned it. The last thing you want is for someone to accuse you of stealing something.
Do not speak ill of others.
During potential job interviews or even after you’ve landed a new job, resist the urge to criticise your boss. Hiring managers aren’t familiar with you or your boss, so all they’ll see is a grumpy employee.
It’s important to remember that quitting is perfectly acceptable. It could make or break your personal and professional future.
What makes your boss so bad- what are the characteristics of a bad boss?
If you work for an ineffective boss—a truly awful one—you’re probably well aware of the difference between an inexperienced or incompetent boss and a truly awful one. You’re probably aware of the typical flaws that supervisors have, and you’re aware that almost every supervisor will fall short in some way over time. You also know that even the worst of them have the audacity to try. There are people who actively work to be bad and then justify their actions by relying on deeply negative beliefs about employees that they hold and espouse.
Horrible bosses force good employees to leave because they are more than willing to advance their own inept and ineffective leadership, even if it means creating a chaotic and toxic organisational culture. The result is that the entire organisation suffers as employees become more and more disengaged while delivering less-than-optimal performance. Here are ten things some of the world’s most heinous bosses think about their own employees.
1. You are far less important than they are.
Horrible bosses genuinely believe you are not as important as they are. They are uninterested in your or your coworkers’ needs, so they will not invest in you. They are unconcerned about your professional development requirements. They aren’t going to think about what benefits or resources you might require to be successful. Horrible bosses believe that their needs are more important than yours and that their concerns are far more important than yours.
2. They should hold you to a higher standard than they do.
Despite the fact that they are the boss and should be leading by example, they do not. Horrible bosses believe they should not be held to the same standards as their employees. They believe that power can be abused and that they should—of course—be held to much lower standards than you. They make the rules in their heads, so they should be free to break them whenever and however they please. Employees who are perceived as inferior are subjected to rules and standards.
3. You are inferior to them – in almost every way.
Horrible bosses are frequently on a power trip, looking for ways to gain more and more power in order to mask their insecurities. Indeed, they want you to believe that you are inferior to them because of your positional authority and status, and they will go to any length to maintain this imbalance of power, including working overtime to ensure you recognise it. They are ready to send you on your way if you don’t like the way things are because they believe you can be easily replaced.
4. You don’t add anything to the table and can be easily replaced.
The majority of us recognise that we can be replaced. That can be a difficult concept to grasp because, while we are not replaceable as individuals, we are all replaceable in the workplace. After employees resign, life does not come to a halt, and organisations do not simply shut down. Horrible bosses, on the other hand, do not want their employees to forget it. They find it difficult, if not impossible, to express gratitude for the value you bring to the team, and they don’t even pretend to want to. Horrible bosses, on the other hand, will go to great lengths to reduce your value in order to inflate their own and maintain a sense of superiority over you.
5. You’ll never be as intelligent as they are.
This should come as no surprise to anyone. Because thinking otherwise would damage their overt superiority complex, terrible bosses believe they are the smartest people in the room. When you and your coworkers complain that your boss never asks for your ideas or seeks your input, understand that this is because he can’t imagine that your suggestion would be better than what he already has on the table. The worst part is that the more these bosses act like this, the more obvious it becomes that they have an inferiority complex.
6. You have no legal authority to question their authority.
Horrible bosses believe you should just shut up and do what they say. They don’t want you or any of their employees to hold them accountable, and they go out of their way to implement policies, strategies, and techniques that discourage dissent and reward agreement. Horrible bosses create “yes men” on purpose because that’s all they want around them. They’ll reward completely submissive behaviour regardless of the cost to the organization’s health or performance in order to keep them coming.
7. Respect and ethical behaviour are optional.
Horrible bosses don’t consider professionalism and respect to be essential aspects of the job. They follow whatever values and ethics will help them advance their goals, and they consider these aspects of the job to be negotiable (of course only by them). They are ready and willing to disrespect you personally and professionally whenever it suits them, and they will use any means necessary to justify unethical decisions.
8. You’re the one who’s to blame for their failures.
There are few people who can throw you under the bus as effectively as a bad boss. They’ll take credit for your accomplishments while blaming you and other employees for any mistakes. Horrible bosses can’t stand being accused of making mistakes or being wrong. They can’t admit they’re wrong and won’t apologise unless they’re forced to. When things go well, horrible bosses are quick to take credit; however, when things go wrong, they will make certain that everyone knows it was your fault.
9. You should give them a kiss on the cheek and rub their ego.
This is especially true when the dreadful boss is the one who hired you. Horrible bosses believe that working for them is a privilege and that you should be thankful for the opportunity. They believe that because you have been “given” a job, you should be more than willing to kiss up and be grateful for it. When your boss says jump, you should only ask how high.
10. No matter how good at your job you are, you do not deserve to be micromanaged.
Horrible bosses assume the worst about their employees. They regard you and your coworkers as inherently untrustworthy, if not outright liars and cheats. As a result, they believe you need to be controlled—literally. These bosses frequently espouse popular leadership theories and talk the talk, but they rarely walk the walk. Instead, they excel at micromanagement because they don’t trust you and don’t care how you feel about it.
Horrible bosses are firm believers in management. Budgets, programs, projects, time, and most importantly, people should all be managed, according to them. These bosses may appear incapable of distinguishing between management and leadership, and they have no desire to improve their skills in either area.
The following are seven of the most common types of bad bosses, as well as the strategies successful people use to work with them effectively.
1. The Inappropriate Companion
This is the boss who is overly friendly, and not in a positive, team-building way. He invites you to hang out outside of work on a regular basis and engages in pointless office gossip. He takes advantage of his power to make friends at the expense of his work. He picks favourites and divides his employees, who are irritated by the disparity in attention and respect. He is unable to make difficult personnel decisions or even fire those who need to be fired (unless he dislikes them). His workplace quickly becomes known as “The Office.”
How to deal with an inappropriate colleague: When dealing with this type of boss, the most important thing to remember is to learn to set firm boundaries. Don’t be intimidated by his position. You can gain control of the situation by consciously and proactively establishing a boundary. For example, you can maintain a friendly relationship with your boss during the day but refuse drinks after work. Even if your boss is persistent, the difficult part here is maintaining consistency with your boundaries. You can still succeed and even have a healthy relationship with your boss if you distance yourself from his behaviours that you find inappropriate.
It’s critical that you don’t erect unnecessary barriers that prevent you from being perceived as friendly (ideally, a friend). Having him see you as an ally, rather than trying to change the crowd-pleaser and force him to be something he isn’t, will put you in a stronger position than you could have imagined.
2. The Micromanager.
This is the boss who makes you feel like you’re being watched all the time. She waited until you got home from work at 7:00 p.m. because she thought your handwriting could be improved. She has even returned your 20-page report because you used a binder clip instead of a staple. She has told you to throw away your pencils and replace them with.9 lead mechanical pencils with the “proper grip.” The micromanager obsesses over minor details, and her constant hovering discourages, frustrates, and even makes employees uncomfortable.
How to deal with a micromanager: Successful people impress micromanagers by demonstrating that they are adaptable, capable, and disciplined while maintaining constant communication. A micromanager is naturally drawn to the employee who completes work according to her specifications. The key to understanding the “envisioned way” with the micromanager is to ask specific questions about your project, check-in frequently, and look for patterns in the micromanager’s feedback.
Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some micromanagers will never stop over-analyzing and micromanaging something. When this is the case, you must learn to find satisfaction within yourself. Allowing your boss’s obsessive attention to detail to instil feelings of inadequacy will only lead to more stress and underperformance. Remember, a good report is still a good report if it isn’t stapled. Despite your boss’s obsessive attention to detail, she values your work; she just doesn’t know how to express it.
3. The Tyrant is a powerful figure.
The tyrant employs Machiavellian tactics and makes decisions that feed his ego on a regular basis. His main concern is maintaining power, and he will use coercion and intimidation to accomplish this. On his ship, the tyrant considers his employees to be a criminal gang. In his mind, he categorises people and treats them accordingly: high achievers who question his thinking are labelled as mutinous. Those who demonstrate their loyalty by supporting their accomplishments are promoted to the first mate. Those who perform poorly are assigned to swabbing the decks and cleaning the latrines.
How to neutralise a tyrant: Presenting your ideas in a way that allows him to take partial credit is a painful but effective strategy with the tyrant. The tyrant can then keep his ego intact without having to kill your idea. Even if he is unlikely to reciprocate, always be quick to give him credit because it will inevitably put you on his good side. To survive a tyrant, you must also pick your battles carefully. You can rationally choose which battles are worth fighting and which ones you should just let go if you practise self-awareness and manage your emotions. You won’t have to do any latrine duty this way.
4. The Incapable.
This boss was promoted or hired haphazardly and now holds a position that she is unqualified for. She is probably not completely inept, but she has people reporting to her who has been with the company for a long time and have knowledge and skills that she lacks.
How to deal with an inept boss: If you’re frustrated with this type of boss, it’s probably because you have experience that she doesn’t. It’s critical to swallow your pride and share your wisdom and experience without rubbing it in her face. You’ll become her ally and confidant if you share the information this boss needs to grow into her role.
5. The Machine
You are employee number 72 in the robot’s mind, with an 84 per cent production yield and a level of experience of 91. This boss makes decisions based on numbers, and when he is forced to make a decision without all of the necessary information, he self-destructs. He makes little or no effort to connect with his employees, instead of relying solely on statistics to determine who is valuable and who should be let go.
How to defeat a robot: To defeat a robot, you must first learn his language. If you have an idea, make sure you have the data to support it. The same is true of your performance: if you want to prove your worth, you must understand what he values and be able to demonstrate it to him. Once you’ve done that, you can start attempting to nudge him out of his antisocial shell.
The key is to find ways to communicate directly with him without being pushy or rude. Schedule face-to-face meetings and knock on his door to respond to some of his e-mails. Forcing him to connect with you as a person, even if only tangentially, will elevate you above a list of numbers and give you a name. Just because he’s all about the numbers doesn’t mean you can’t make an exception for yourself. However, do so in moderation, as he is unlikely to respond well to the overbearing social type.
6. The Imaginative.
Her ideas and innovations are her greatest assets. When a plan or solution needs to be implemented, however, this entrepreneurial approach becomes dangerous because she can’t seem to focus on the task at hand. When it comes time to put her vision into action, she’s already on to the next project, leaving you to figure things out on your own.
How to deal with a visionary: The best way to deal with this personality type is to reverse her train of thought. Because she has a broad perspective by nature, be quick to condense things into something more manageable. To do so, bombard her with a barrage of specific questions that force her to think critically about the problem and consider potential roadblocks to putting her broad ideas into action. Instead of directly refuting her ideas, focus your attention on what it will take to implement her plan in a realistic manner. Your questions will usually diffuse her plan, and if they don’t, they’ll get her to understand—and commit to—the effort she’ll have to put in to help make it happen.
7. The Pelican.
We’ve all been there: sitting in the shadow of a seagull manager who decided it was time to roll up his sleeves, swoop in, and start squawking like a maniac. Rather than taking the time to get the facts straight and collaborate with the team to find a viable solution, the seagull spits out steaming piles of formulaic advice before flying away, leaving everyone else to clean up the mess. Only when there is a fire to put out do seagulls interact with their employees. Even then, they move in and out so quickly—and with so little thought—that they aggravate bad situations by frustrating and alienating those who most need them.
How to neutralise a seagull: Seagulls respond best to a group approach. This message is more likely to be heard if you can get the entire team to sit down with him and explain how his abrupt approach to solving problems makes it extremely difficult for everyone to perform at their best. The seagull will more often than not find a better way to work with his team if the entire group comes together and provides constructive, non-threatening feedback. When you’re on the receiving end of a seagull’s airborne dumps, it’s easy to spot one, but the manager who’s doing the squawking is often unaware of the negative consequences of his actions. Give him a gentle nudge from the group, and things will undoubtedly improve.
The last line:
Working for a bad boss can teach you how to be a good one.
All is not lost. A study by the University of Central Florida looked into the effects and outcomes of having a bad boss. The study discovered that those who have been subjected to abuse by bad bosses “are more likely to treat their own subordinates better…” Mistreated employees were also motivated to treat others better and were more likely to pursue leadership development opportunities in order to avoid inflicting the treatment they had received on their employees.
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