A recent study showed that only 18% of managers in the US are skilled at management and leadership. No wonder so many people think their bosses suck. They actually do!
If a typical day at the office includes a manager that belittles you, ignores you, or even seems to sabotage your efforts, you have a boss that “sucks.”
Since a large part of our job satisfaction is tied to how well we get along with our bosses, I thought it would be helpful to give you the top tips I’ve discovered from handling my share of challenging bosses.
Own Your Part
What’s that saying about pointing blame at someone? “When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”
It’s easy to play the victim and blame everything on your boss. After all, you’ve got the numbers to back you up proving that your boss is most likely incompetent. The key is to remember that relationships involve more than one person, and if you feel like things are strained with your boss and your communication is in the toilet, ask yourself if you’ve done anything to contribute to it.
Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, think about what you can do to improve the situation. Does your boss suck because they’re a micromanager? Try communicating more proactively, and see if that helps build trust.
Your boss probably doesn’t know that they suck. Few people wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, “Gosh, I’m really terrible at what I do.”
The reality of the situation is that if your boss is doing something that annoys you to no end, they may not be aware of it. Do they give you an “urgent” task just as you’re about to head out for the night? Next time, tell your boss (calmly) that you’d prefer more lead time.
Or suggest that they send you a note or wait until morning if they can clearly see you’re on your way out the door.
Sometimes bosses innocently fumble around with no ill will. Other times, bosses are downright mean and manipulative. Regardless of which category your boss falls into, you must always cover your butt.
If you’ve been caught off guard more than once with your boss blaming you for something that wasn’t done on time or to proper specifications, you’ve probably learned this lesson the hard way.
A bad boss typically looks for someone else to blame, so make sure you document important steps of a project and save all written communication or sensitive voicemails, so you have proof that you did the right thing.
Never Lose Your Cool
This is easier said than done. You might dislike your boss so much that even the sound they make when they drink coffee irritates you. That resentment builds up, and when it comes time to debate an issue or argue a point that’s important to you, it’s more challenging to remain calm and objective.
In business, I’ve found that whoever shows emotion in an argument loses. Whether it’s raising your voice, having a frustrated tone, or god forbid, crying, you simply can’t do it and expect to come out ahead.
Take a deep breath, bite the inside of your cheek or gracefully exit the room until you calm down. Do whatever it takes not to blow a gasket. You’ll immediately lose the respect of your boss and colleagues, and words said in anger are hard to come back from, especially at the office.
Find a Silver Lining
You might dislike your boss, but surely there’s something else that you love about your job. Do you have a beautiful office? Do you enjoy banter with your coworkers? Is the work you do fulfilling?
On days when your boss is particularly challenging, focus on what you do love about coming to work. And when you feel resentment or frustration boiling underneath the surface, focus on the positive.
Get a New Job
Life is too short to be miserable. If you’ve tried the other tips in this article and you’ve found that you just can’t make things work, move on.
Yes, it’s scary to leave something that’s comfortable, but do you want to spend every single day thinking about how awful your boss is? Plus, if you’re in a relationship, I can guarantee you 100% that your partner is sick and tired of hearing about the idiotic thing your boss did today.
Remember what I said earlier, though. The vast majority of bosses are mediocre, so if you decide to switch jobs, follow the steps I suggested to make sure you and your new boss start off on the right foot.