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5 Strategies to Deal With a Bad Boss

Collaboration & Teamwork 13th October 2016 Richa Borkar

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How do you deal with a bad boss? Most importantly who is a bad boss? A boss who is disliked by his employees is not a bad boss.

As Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” It is not unusual for bosses to be unpopular. They are the ones who are held accountable for the team’s performance. They are the people who have to act on the hard truths staring at them. Bosses who relish this challenge and perform well under such pressure scenarios go on to become revered leaders. Though, not all pass this test. While some succeed spectacularly, others fail miserably. Success or failure, everybody has their own way of going about their business. Some win scores of admirers along their journey while others leave a grim tale of woe and resentment behind them.

How does one deal when faced with the second situation? Here’s what your strategy should be.

Seek a second opinion

Given the delicate nature of the problem, before you begin dealing with the situation, it would be better if you make sure that it actually exists. Seek a second opinion. Preferably from an individual who can dispassionately judge the situation without any fear or favour.

Confront your boss

Once you have established the fact that you do have problem with your boss, it’s high time you address the situation. Have a direct one-on-one with your boss. Pick an appropriate time that suits you both and have a heartfelt discussion towards resolving the issue. This plan of action may not be the best option for all. This would work well in a workplace which has an environment of open communication. If not, it might backfire with dire consequences for you. Judge the situation and act accordingly.

Related: How to Constructively Handle Criticism at Work

Be the boss yourself

Imagine a situation where you are the boss that you currently have differences with, and your boss is you. Exchange places with your boss and try to look at the situation in a different light. In the course of human history some of the greatest breakthroughs have been the result of looking at the usual things in a different manner. This may provide you with a clue as to how to address the situation.

Assess the damage

Is the treatment at your boss’ hands too big a deal for you? Does it keep you occupied unnecessarily and is it hampering your productivity or does it bother you for some time and then you forget about it? The answer to this question would go a long way in determining your approach towards solving this situation. Assess the damage and act accordingly. If you are facing self-esteem issues because of the situation, then act without any delay and stop at nothing until the problem is solved. You are your biggest asset. Choose and preserve yourself, if the need arises.

Related: 5 Professional Ethics To Follow At Workplace

Keep your eyes and ears open

Is your boss trying to get across some message to you by the way he/she has been treating you? Sometimes even people in leadership positions have a hard time trying to bring up subjects which need to be addressed urgently. You may be able to help your own cause by keeping your eyes and ears open to pick on any clues that would help you better understand the problem. You can then address the issue proactively, saving everyone from embarrassment.

Keep your options open

Chances are that some or one of the above steps will help you deal with the problem at hand. Yet, it would be wise to keep your options open. While you are trying to resolve the issue, be on the lookout for other jobs as well. It is better to be in such a position after having anticipated. Be prepared for it rather than land in it as an accident. Act hoping for the best, but also be prepared for any eventuality.

If you see it is not at all that difficult to deal with a bad boss. If you’re sharp enough to note why you’re being ill-treated you can get around to the solution.


The author of the article is Head Business Development at Work Better Training. Work Better Training is one of India’s fastest growing Executive Education and Training firm. The views expressed here are personal.

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