Dealing with a Difficult Boss

Dealing with a Difficult Boss

May 24, 2017
Human Resources

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

You landed the job you wanted but now are plotting how you can escape, thanks to your boss. This situation, unfortunately, is not uncommon. A 2015 Gallop study found that about 50% of the 7,200 adults surveyed left a job "to get away from their manager." If you find yourself dealing with a micromanager or an insensitive bully, there are steps you can take to try and improve the relationship and make your daily work life less miserable.  

  1. Try to understand what drives your boss. The better you comprehend what your boss does, and why, the better positioned you are to deliver results, manage expectations, and avoid negative situations.  
  2. Learn your boss’s preferences and behavioral style. Is your boss a quick decision maker or does she need time to process information? Does she prefer face-to-face communication or e-mail? Adapting to your boss’s work style will help ensure you are being heard as you develop your “people” skills.
  3. Work with your boss to set goals and manage priorities. Employees who are given clear expectations report better work satisfaction. Having goals is a basic need that is vital to performance so put them into writing and update if priorities change.
  4. If difficulties arise, confront the situation tactfully. It may be hard to muster up the courage to talk to an abusive boss but you owe it to yourself and your boss to voice your concerns and discuss possible solutions. Be open, honest and choose your words carefully. Your conversation may not change a thing, but at least you know you tried.
  5. Go high when they go low. Make sure you don’t undermine your own integrity and personal brand by constantly whining about your situation or slacking off on your work. Maintain a calm and professional manner so you don’t descend into the same toxic behavior as your boss. 
  6. Consider options to move on. If you feel too miserable, it simply may not be worth staying. Take some time to think through what the daily stress is doing to you both professionally and personally before making any abrupt moves. If you don’t want to leave the company there may be other opportunities internally.

Ultimately, no one deserves to be mistreated at work on a daily basis. Keep your networks strong and know that a better job is out there for you. Everyone deserves fulfilling work and a boss that provides a positive and supportive environment.