“My Boss Stinks!” and What You Can Do About It
Most hard-working employees have crossed paths with a “difficult” boss. There are times when managers are not compatible with workers when it comes to work styles, approaches, or worldviews, and there are other times when management can be downright toxic. Sometimes bosses stink, and there’s no explaining it away with excuses and apologies.
Bad bosses do have power to negatively impact your work performance and make your life miserable for eight hours a day with poor work practices and a lack of professionalism. However, you have to manage the situation to keep the peace until you find a resolution or leave the organization.
Here are some tips and strategies you might use to deal with a boss lacking in skills, patience, empathy, or proper management training.
Reflect on Your Performance and Attitude First
Even if you are sure the fault lies with your boss, it never hurts to do some objective self-reflection to make sure. Maybe you feel extra pressure because your boss demands productivity or skills you feel are outside your job description, skills level, or pay grade. If you feel like their expectations do not align with your job description, ask your boss to clarify or adjust the expectations.
You can also take a moment to compare your communication and work styles to your boss’ styles. It’s possible that these things differ, which could be leading to some of the conflict. Our recruiters at eHire use the Business DNA assessment to determine work styles and compare in order to know how potential new hires will work within teams. Assessments like that can help you understand your differences and figure out what motivates your boss and what qualities are most important to them.
Document Problematic Interactions and Other Matters
If your manager says things you feel are out of line, write down what they said and the date and time the incident occurred. If your boss wrote a scathing performance review or sent an unprofessional email, start saving the documents to an external drive or print them out for future reference. You will need a paper trail to protect yourself if your boss penalizes you or terminates your employment.
Take Care of Yourself
Once you detect any issue at work, it’s easy to let stress overwhelm you. The next thing you know, you start tossing and turning at night, making poor dietary choices, snacking at your desk, etc. Do your best to get plenty of rest, exercise, and the right amount of nutritious food to face daily challenges with a clear outlook. Take a deep breath… or a couple before you respond or react. That is 100% self care (and self preservation) in the workplace. The last thing you want is for an unreasonable boss to contribute to your poor health.
You could even request a few days off work to clear your head, and try finding stress relievers that help you manage the situation better, even if your boss shows no signs of willingness to change. You might find that some downtime helps you rev up, tackle your work with verve, and live your best life despite your sub-par boss.
Ask Your Boss for Tips on How to Improve
No matter how unpalatable it might sound, you might take the lead and be the better person, asking your boss to clarify their position and how they believe you should do your job. Let them know that you started your position with an impression you were to proceed as you have done. Further, let them know you want to do your job well to serve the organization and stay true to your professionalism.
If your boss does not provide a helpful answer, encouragement, and a meaningful and mutually beneficial resolution, you will know that you did your best to reach out and try. Even with this outcome, you might gain insights into your boss, discovering they feel insecure or are poor communicators. The interaction may not help you directly, but it may help you develop strategies to manage an outburst, the cold shoulder, or a negative email.
You can also let your boss know certain expectations and behaviors do not seem reasonable to you. Here, you can approach the conversation presuming they weren't aware of how they come across to you, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Contact Your Company's HR Team
Reaching out to HR might feel like you are escalating the situation, but sometimes that’s necessary. Otherwise, you might not feel like you can fulfill your daily duties. Before you take this step, do your research to learn more about your HR department's track record and reputation for supporting employee complaints. Once you are confident they support employees in such matters, let them know about your boss' behavior and what you have done to remedy the situation. They may have already fielded employee complaints about your boss and have recommendations to help you.
Keep in Touch with an Experienced Recruiter or Recruiting Firm
Beginning or continuing a relationship with a reliable recruiter even if you’re not open to working elsewhere is a great strategy for having a resource in place when you finally do decide to consider other offers. If you’ve tried every reasonable strategy to improve your relationship with your boss, you might realize it’s time to move on. And since you already have a relationship with a good recruiter, that would be the perfect time to let them know you’re open to make a move. If you’re connected to us at eHire, reach out to your eHire recruiter to let them know you’re dissatisfied where you are and open to entertaining offers from companies that have a vision and culture that better align with yours.
Our recruiters work with enterprise and high-growth tech companies, and they’re ready to find the right match for your talent, skills, enthusiasm, and work ethic. Contact us to learn more about how we pair talented candidates with the right opportunities.