We’ve all had to deal with at least one—or more—bad bosses in our careers: bosses who are critical, manipulative, disrespectful, or even totally checked out. Every bad boss takes the joy out of our jobs. Here are some of the best ways to handle a bad boss professionally, without losing your cool.
Try talking to your bad boss
Think this conversation through beforehand. Remain polite, respectful and calm, even if the boss does not. Present facts—specific examples of how the boss’s behavior has affected both you and your work. Cite evidence: emails, phone discussions, conversations in front of others. Explain that you’d like to resolve these issues together. Hopefully, the boss will agree.
Stay the course
If the boss does not agree, continue to maintain your composure. See if you can live with the boss’s issues, unpleasant though they may be. Ignore the boss’s bad behavior. This is not easy, but it is possible. Continue to show a positive face to the boss and to coworkers.
Adapt to the boss
If your bad boss micromanages, be proactive. Try to supply what they want as soon as possible. Offer regular status reports so they stop hoovering over you. For a boss who never offers direction or feedback, ask for the tools and information you need to do your job. For the disorganized boss, see this as an opportunity to help the boss become more organized and earn his or her appreciation.
Continue to do your best work
Don’t slack off because your bad boss’s behavior has you feeling resentful and unappreciated. Exceling at your job will ensure that you gain the respect—if not of your bad boss, then of coworkers and higher-ups. Stay optimistic and involved at work.
Highlight your successes
Make sure your bad boss knows whenever you’ve surpassed expectations: turned in projects ahead of time, saved the organization money, simplified an important process. Show the boss that you are an asset to the team—you are self-reliant, professional and an outstanding worker.
If all else fails, look for a job in a different department or even a different company. Make sure you network within the new department or new organization to guarantee that you won’t be stuck with another bad boss.
Remember that you deserve a good boss—one who is respectful, encourages your ability to do a good job, bolsters your self-confidence and helps you advance your career.
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