How to Professionally Deal With a Bad Boss

Everybody who's ever worked in an office knows that middle management are not promoted for their people skills. No, they are there simply because, on the whole, they’re awful human beings. So it's not surprising that for most employees, the interaction with these bosses is demotivating and will often leave you cold. Many of these managers are intrusive, controlling, petty and often a bully. Their secret power is the ability to make people's lives miserable. 

In many ways it’s like dealing with a small brattish child within the body of a grown-up person. You'll find these people will instantly steal credit for your work, miss all your scheduled meetings, and never give any positive feedback. Because they naturally lack a spine, they tend to be the type that cave-in immediately under pressure and will never step forward and support you. Due to ego issues, along with self delusion, they are incapable of recognising anyone's excellence. They're able to enter a happy office and within but a few days, turn it into a joyless and unhappy place, where no one wants to be. 

Assuming that you have to put up with one of these idiots, then the question arises about how to deal with them on a day-to-day basis, without making your own life and those of your colleges intolerable. 

Your Bad Boss May Be Unaware They Are Bad

Although this is not really an excuse, it’s perfectly possible that your boss is unaware that they are a bad boss. Without delving too deeply into the definition of what makes someone a bad boss, it's quite possible that they go through their day today without any realisation of how others perceive them. An example may be the hands-off manager who fails to realise that they need to provide direction or feedback. Another type of boss obsesses that he has power over the staff by providing too much direction and constantly looking over people's shoulder to micromanage them. All this achieves is making people feel insecure. Sometimes bosses have such rubbish people skills that they fail to realise that the way they talk to employees is condescending and ultimately insulting.

With so many young managers determined to climb the corporate ladder as rapidly as possible, it's often the case that many of them lack training and therefore are totally overwhelmed by their new job requirements. Within this they are unable to provide support for the people they should be looking after and motivating. One of the major issues with over-promotion or promoting someone too quickly, is that they do not understand their responsibilities properly, and as a result are unable to gauge both their own confidence, limitations and reach. As a result they will often overcompensate, leading to foolish and trite behaviour.

It's often the case that a bad boss simply doesn't share your values. For example, younger employees tend to have an expectation that their vacation time is almost flexible, as they pursue a work-life balance as a priority. For them, a flexible work schedule is a given. But you'll find that many bosses, particularly those of an older generation, do not approve of remote work and believe that it harms the culture of the business itself. Of course, if you are out of sync with your boss then, without drastic change from one or the other of you, you're going to develop a problem. When the problem is one of a totally different outlook, which is written in your individual DNA, then there is nothing to do. At this point it’s better you look for another job. If on the other hand, you are determined to make a go of your relationship, then these are some factors you might want to keep in mind:

The Balance

We're huge believers in sitting down and having a chat over a coffee. But first thing's first. You should never tell the boss that he or she is bad. This is both antagonistic and absolutely counter productive to what you want to achieve. The most fruitful process is to tell your boss what you need in terms of feedback, support and direction. In other words, how can your boss help you achieve your goals?

Also you can ask your manager if there's anything you can do to help him reach his goals that they are striving to achieve themselves. In the same way you want from them, so show that you're being a good listener and understand their requests.

If after having a chat and offering a helping hand, you find that your boss still continues to be a dick, then you're going to have to go to his boss or to HR and ask for advice. Be aware that your average bad boss will never forgive you and will forever have a huge chip on their shoulder about you, especially that you took an issue and went over their head. Thanks to the legal and confidentiality clause, you may never know what your request came to. But you can be sure your bad boss will know you made it and there could well be consequences from that action. In many ways, the whole process can end up feeling petty and a no-win for you.

With all these efforts, nothing changes, then you might have to bring in other coworkers to backup your plans. Always keep in mind that your boss has been chosen to be over you, and that they often have the blessing of upper management. So the next best thing you can do is ask for a transfer to another department within the organisation you’re working in. At least with this, it comes across that you like your job and your work, and you're not thinking of quitting. 

Having said that, if there is no transfer option or promotion away from your bad boss, then we suggest you start looking for a new job. You should never put up with demeaning and insulting behaviour, as, on a basic level, it's bad for your mental health. An organisation that supports a bad boss means his overlords are as bad as the individual himself, and you really shouldn't be working for such people. 

Once you've been working for a bad boss for some time or you suffered a string of them one after another, it can be hard to believe that there are managers who really care for the well-being of their employees. Managers who try their hardest to ensure that all the workers under them are content and able to simply get on with the work at hand. Remember that a manager's job is not to look after the people on an individual level but to ensure that the work that needs doing gets done.

When you're beginning your career in whatever profession, then you want someone who will help to mentor you in order to help your self-confidence and your self-esteem. A good boss can help you advance your career. And everybody deserves to be treated with respect and professionalism in the workplace.