There are so many variations of bad bosses. The micromanager. The boss who throws you under the bus to try and cover up his own mistakes. The yeller who likes to inspire fear.
Sadly, bad bosses are not rare. So what do you do when you find yourself working for one? Sure, you can quit, but if you don’t have a trust fund or wealthy mate, you should view the boss-worker relationship like any other challenge — one that can be managed and overcome. “People make bosses out to be everything,” says Wendy Kaufman, the CEO of Balancing Life’s Issues, an Ossining, N.Y.-based corporate training firm. “The reality is they are not. When you know that, you can win the psychological game.”
How can you make the bad boss better? Here are five tips, culled from Kaufman and the writings of Bob Sutton, author of “The No arsehole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” (Sutton was unavailable for an interview.)
1. Put on your armour. Disengage emotionally. Don’t take your manager’s bad behaviour personally. He’s probably a jerk with everyone. When you are “comfortably numb,” his insults and misdeeds won’t hurt.
2. Stay out of the gutter. It’s inappropriate for the boss to get nasty. Likewise, it’s not smart for you to do the same (though that’s probably what he wants). Step back and say, “I am looking forward to having this conversation at another time, but not in this way.”
3. Don’t hide. Bad bosses can be demoralizing, but keep doing your job and demonstrating your competencies. Superiors will notice. Colleagues will see who behaves badly at meetings and is deserving of respect.
4. Keep a record. Keep a journal of your boss’ misdeeds. Save the emails. A paper trail will become crucial if your manager tries to railroad you out of your job.
5. Keep in mind the big picture. Work isn’t everything. Enjoy your family, friends and time off. If, at the end of the day, you can take pleasure in your personal life, all the rotten things your boss says or does won’t matter quite so much.
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