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How to Handle a Bad Boss

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Navigating a Difficult Boss: Strategies for Improvement

Working with a challenging manager or boss can be a daily struggle for many individuals. Whether they consistently find fault in your work or make your job unbearable, it’s crucial to address the situation before it takes a toll on your mental well-being. Although I’ve been fortunate to have had exceptional bosses throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the impact of difficult bosses on my colleagues. To help you improve your relationship with a tough boss, consider the following steps:


1. Maintain Professionalism

When faced with a draining situation, it’s essential to remain objective. Set clear boundaries between personal and work-related issues. Resist the temptation to engage in gossip or speak negatively about your boss to your co-workers. Regardless of the level of trust you have, you never know what information might reach them or be overheard. Carry on with your work in a professional and positive manner, demonstrating your commitment to your responsibilities.


2. Research Their Behavior

Difficult bosses can exhibit a range of behaviors, from passive-aggressiveness to outright aggression. To understand and navigate their actions effectively, educate yourself on the topic. There are numerous books available that shed light on surviving in a difficult work environment. These resources delve into various personality types, triggers, and reasons behind their behavior. Reading such material will help you develop a strategy that aligns with your manager’s personality. If necessary, know when it’s time to escalate the situation to HR or your boss’s superiors and don’t hesitate to take that step. Keep a record of specific interactions and incidents as they occur, ensuring you have detailed documentation to support your case if needed.


3. Document Your Progress

Even if your role doesn’t have established metrics, tracking your work and accomplishments is essential. Keeping a record of your achievements provides tangible evidence of your contributions to the company. For instance, if you receive criticism for a customer complaint, being able to state that you resolved 80% of customer complaints in a specific period demonstrates your value. This documentation can strengthen your position and serve as evidence in your defense if the situation escalates and involves HR. Additionally, tracking your successes will benefit you during a job search, as you can use these metrics to highlight your capabilities on your resume.


4. Maintain Emotional Control

While it can be challenging to remain composed in the face of a boss who yells, takes credit for your work, or resorts to name-calling, exercising self-restraint is vital. Keep calm and be the rational one in the situation. Find courage in seeking support from trusted individuals and develop a strategy to help you navigate the circumstances. Remember that most problems tend to resolve themselves with time, one way or another. In my co-worker’s case, she eventually decided to seek another job to escape her difficult boss. However, I often wonder if she hadn’t encountered such a boss, she might not have had to leave a job she loved.


Share your experiences! What is the most detrimental behavior you’ve witnessed a difficult boss exhibit toward an employee?


Anjela Mangrum, the founder of Mangrum Career Solutions, is a trusted authority in executive recruitment for the manufacturing industry! She’s dedicated to matching top-tier candidates with rewarding opportunities in the field. Connect with her on LinkedIn and join the MCS LinkedIn group for the latest in manufacturing recruitment news and trends. Let’s partner in building strong and harmonious work environments!