The difference between a good boss and a bad boss can be a life or death situation for your job.
A good boss will motivate you, support you, encourage you and be proud of you.
A bad boss will of course do the exact opposite.
A bad boss can make your working life a living hell.
A bad boss will demotivate you, patronise you, embarrass you, undermine you or even fire you.
My heart goes out to those of you who are currently enduring the wrath of a bad boss.
To provide you with some support, I’ve compiled a list of what you can do if faced with a bad boss situation.
To caveat, this post is written on the premise that you are not being harassed or discriminated against.
If you feel you are being discriminated, then skip straight to point number 18 of this blog post.
Bad Boss Management Tips
- Are they really that bad?
Before you start to make a fuss, I encourage you to analyse if your boss is really that bad?
Or dare I say it, is the problem with you? Is your Boss simply picking up on things that are genuinely your fault?
Grab a close work colleague and ask for their honest feedback if you struggle to do this on your own.
- Manage upwards
Don’t give your boss the opportunity moan.
Ask them how they wish to be updated on progress and when? Find out the dates reports are due and what other deadlines you will be expected to meet so you can plan you diary proactively.
Establish how they like to be contacted by you? Do they have an open-door policy or should you book a meeting or do they like to receive e-mails?
Basically, understand how they want to interact with you, when and where.
This way, there is no room (in theory) for unexpected surprises or for them to moan.
- Stay professional at all times
Even if your boss is the absolute nightmare boss, DO NOT let the quality of your work suffer.
Or at least try not to.
Don’t give your boss an excuse to criticise you.
Meet deadlines, do what you say you will do and what you are paid to do.
- Stay calm
Even if you don’t feel ok, please try and act as calm and professional as possible.
Depending on the type of boss you are dealing with, it will be ammunition for them if you get angry or cry.
Plus, getting upset can make you look unprofessional.
I know this can be really hard, but try to act as professional as you can at all times.
If you feel yourself getting angry or upset make an excuse to leave.
- Document everything
If your boss has any sense, they won’t send nasty e-mails to you.
But if they have, fantastic, keep them.
Print them off and take them home to keep as evidence.
If there is no written proof, it’s vital to keep a diary of incidences as they happen.
- Repeat back what has been asked of you
If dealing with a slippery boss, upon giving you an instruction, repeat back word for word what they have said and ask them to confirm it’s correct OR follow up with an e-mail outlining what they have asked you to do and can they please confirm this is correct?
Linked to the above, upon receiving a new assignment push your boss for deadline dates, submission dates, formats and content expectations.
Again, repeat back what has been ask of you or follow up instructions with an e-mail.
If something is not clear, ensure you keep asking until you have the clarity you need.
- Job description
I advise anyone who is experiencing difficulties at work, to read through their job description and work contract so they are clear as to exactly what they are being paid to do.
Don’t have either?
If in the UK, your employer doesn’t have to give you a job description but it’s good practise to have one.
However, all employers legally have to supply a written statement within two months of starting your employment outlining your job title and other key information.
My advice in the absence of a job description though is to ask for one or insist one is produced.
In the instance of a difficult boss, is she asking you to do stuff that falls outside your remit? If she is push back.
- Push back
If your boss is unorganised or dumping her work on you; then start to push back and say no.
Linked to the above, you know what you have been employed (and more importantly) paid to do.
You also know what are reasonable deadlines.
If your boss is not being reasonable, say no.
If appropriate, back up with an e-mail of explanation.
- Meet with your boss
Take the initiative and ask to meet with your boss.
Explain what your issues are with her and outline the solutions.
Ask for her feedback.
How can the situation be resolved?
If appropriate follow up meeting with an e-mail.
- Annual Appraisal
Use your Annual Appraisal as an official setting to raise concerns with your boss.
Obviously this makes what you are complaining about formal, so be absolutely sure this is the right format and time in which to raise a grievance.
- Don’t moan
This is a tough one, but try your hardest not to moan to other people in the company.
People love to gossip, especially in the work place and it may get back to your boss which will obviously add fuel to the fire.
- Ask “advice” from someone else senior in the company
Identify someone who is senior and who you can trust and ask their advice as to what you should do regarding your boss.
- Your bosses boss
Be careful with this move, only do this if absolute necessary, seek out your boss’s boss and ask for their advice.
- Consult with H R
If things are not improving with your boss, go and speak to the H R Team.
You will need to explain what the problem is, along with evidence and your suggested solution.
Then ask them to solve.
This is their job.
- Ask for a transfer
If appropriate, ask for a transfer within the company.
But only do this if this is what you want to do!
Don’t leave a department because a horrible line manager has chased you out.
- Group complaint
If you think your colleagues feel the same way, subtly ask them if they will consider making a joint complaint with you.
I stress be subtle.
You may think you know your colleagues, but always act with caution.
It may get back to your boss that you are starting a rebellion.
- Don’t go off sick
It can be tempting to go off sick when dealing with a horrible boss.
But please try not to.
All this does is delay the issue being resolved and unfortunately will reflect badly on you.
- Bullying or discrimination
If you are facing a boss who is harassing or discriminating against you then you are protected by statute.
Basically, it’s illegal.
If this is the case, don’t go through any of the above but get advice immediately.
You do not have to suffer harassment or discrimination.
If you can afford it, go straight to a solicitor.
Or the free options are:
- Contact an organisation called acas – Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They are a government funded organisation and free to use. See their website: https://www.gov.uk/acas
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/
I hope this has helped you