Handling horrible bosses

FrustratedBy Josie Howard

If you’ve never had a horrible manager, you’re probably in the minority. Everyone at some point in his or her career will have a boss they can’t stand. We all love to hate our bosses, but if employee-manager relations make you dread getting out of bed and are preventing you from working effectively and professionally, it may be time to consider taking action.
There are two types of horrible bosses: the ones who know they’re being difficult and don’t care, and the ones who have no clue their managerial style is impacting others negatively.
Bosses in the first category may believe that humiliating, demeaning and yelling at employees is fine; that’s how they get the job done.
The other kind of boss doesn’t know that their behaviour is harmful. They may think their micromanaging is helpful and gives their employees direction, or that their hands-off approach is more liberating to others. This boss may also lack training and experience and therefore feels overwhelmed.
The steps to dealing with any difficult bosses are the same, but the way you approach them may be slightly different depending on their personalities. Here are the tools you need to improve your working environment and your relationship with your boss.
1. Write down the problems.
When we’re frustrated and upset, our emotions run high. We tend to exaggerate how bad things are because we’re not thinking clearly. Once you’ve cooled off, make a list of the problems you’re experiencing, giving specific examples. A boss may ask you when a certain behaviour specifically occurred.
2. Be part of the solution.
Now that you’ve outlined what needs to change, how is the boss going to change it? Managers don’t like being faced with a list of problems – it can make the employee look like a whiner. By coming up with solutions to the problems, you look proactive. If the manager isn’t giving direction, ask for a weekly or monthly review of your work. If the manager is talking down to you, ask them to maybe avoid certain language or offer constructive criticism instead.
3. Meet the boss.
This is the most difficult and nerve-wracking part. Plan a meeting with your boss. Don’t broach these issues in the hall or during another meeting, but deal with them separately. Calmly state what has been bothering you about their management style, giving your examples. Use “I feel” statements: “I feel like you sometimes talk down to me…” These statements seem less accusatory and soften the blow. Wait and listen to their rebuttal and then offer your solutions. Ask the manager how you can help to reach these goals. In many cases your manager may be shocked to hear what you have to say. They may explode, but let them get it out and remain calm and collected.
4. Taking it to the next level.
Now wait to see if your suggestions have made a difference. If not, it may be time to take your concerns to the next level. Approach your boss’ boss or human resources in the same way. Present your concerns, examples, and suggestions. Now wait some more. It may take them a few weeks to implement changes.
5. Bringing in reinforcements.
If there’s still no difference, gather together colleagues who have experienced the same thing and want change. Present your concerns to HR or your boss’ boss as you did before. Again, allow time to pass so the issues can be dealt with.
6. Looking for other options.
If nothing changes, it’s time to look elsewhere. Consider transferring to another department or job within the company where you won’t have to deal with this particular supervisor. If this isn’t possible, then it’s time to look for other employment opportunities.
Remember, you have the right to a professional work environment where you feel comfortable and safe. Don’t let a bad boss get the better of you. Address the situation and create a better workplace.

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