Chances are that at some point in your life, you’re going to have issues with your boss. Could be in your first job or your last, but it’s probably going to happen sooner or later.
This isn’t to say your manager is necessarily bad (though they could be). Sometimes you just don’t see eye-to-eye all the time. But if you want to keep your job — or get a reference the next time you change jobs — you’re going to have to find a way to get along.
Here’s how to deal when you can’t stand your manager.
Reasons Why You Might Hate Your Boss
First things first: it helps to know exactly why you’re having issues. Some things are more serious and harder to deal with than others. If you’re enduring harassment or abuse, you either need a new job or some powerful people in your corner — or both. (Think: HR, the EEOC, an employment lawyer, etc., depending on your situation and funds.)
Other problems are less dire but still difficult to cope with, including:
- Not providing support/being inaccessible
- Taking credit for your work
You might also just clash with the boss’s style. You want to delegate work to the group, while they want to hold it all close and only let certain people have access to information. They want everyone to work independently, you prefer a more collaborative environment.
Are You Part of the Problem?
To improve your situation, you’ll need to start with some self-examination. That means being willing to accept that fact that you might be contributing to the problem. Ask yourself:
- Are you open to suggestions?
- Are you able to accept help when offered?
- Are you able to articulate criticism without being negative?
- Are you generally positive in terms of your attitude and approach?
If your honest answer to any of these questions is, “No,” then you might be part of the problem.
Negativity can become an issue for your coworkers, too, if you’re always complaining. You can definitely disagree with the powers that be, but make sure to come back with positive solutions. If at the end of the day, they don’t listen, then unfortunately, it’s your job to try and make it work.
“Every good employer appreciates an employee with this philosophy: ‘I’ll tell you what I think even if you don’t want to hear it, but at the end of the day, if we go in another direction, I’ll do my best to make it happen,'” writes David D. Perlmutter at the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Don’t make your problems with your boss into a problem your boss has with you. If you want to keep your job, you can’t become an employee that they want to get rid of.
Decide Whether You Want to Stay or Go
Real talk: Are you able to leave that job with the boss you hate? Some thing to consider are:
- What are your long-term goals for your career? Does this job meet that goal yet?
- Could you stick around long enough to meet some goals, or finish a big project you have going on?
- Do you have a fund saved up if you were to walk out today? Could you support yourself while you look for a new job?
If you really love your employer, and you can can stick with your current job for a while, you might eventually get out from under that boss’s thumb and find a place to shine.
“Remember, if you’re able to excel in spite of your boss and work your way upward, there will likely come a day (perhaps soon) when that person is no longer your manager. In other words, problem solved,” writes Maurie Backman at The Motley Fool.
You may be able to find ways to just move to a different manager’s group and still work for the company. One way to do this is to document issues you have with your boss and take the details to a higher power.
“If you maintain a log of the many times your boss criticizes you in public or makes nasty comments about you and your work, you can take it to HR and ask for intervention or to report to somebody else,” Backman says.
How to Fix Your Communication Glitch
Have you tried talking about what’s going on with your boss? Many managers might be so heads-down in their own work that they’re completely unaware of problems. Make a quick assessment of what’s going on:
- If you’re not getting enough time to do your work, how could you better address scheduling and estimating project time?
- If you’re not getting enough information to do your work, could you propose a better planning system?
- If you’re getting roadblocked, talk to your boss about moving obstructions out of your way.
Regular one-on-one meetings are great times to bring up these solutions. Just remember to keep your cool. Getting angry during the discussion won’t help you make your case. Focus on offering solutions, not just highlighting problems. And if your boss prefers a different direction, consider it with an open mind.
How to Handle Disagreements at Work
Experts will tell you that you never want to be a thorn in your boss’ side, even if they’re displeasing you. Besides burning your bridges, it can affect your whole workplace if there’s outright aggression in the office. It can also make you incredibly unhappy.
The more you get your hackles up, the higher you’ll ratchet up the tension. You’ll also add stress and toxicity to the office (and possibly at home). And getting stressed can lead to physical and mental ailments.
“Troublesome co-workers can hinder your career success by lowering your productivity, hurting your job performance and dampening your morale,” writes Ruth Umoh at CNBC. “Plus, the stress from dealing with their conflict can result in sleepless nights, headaches, stomach problems and other physical symptoms.”
Worse yet, if you get angry at a boss that makes you angry, then YOU could be the one tossed to the curb. Want to air some feelings? Talk to your boss about your work stress — the right way.
See Work Through Management’s Eyes
Being a boss is hard. There are any number of problems that can seem small to you but huge to them. Outside of deadlines, budgets and productivity, there can also be issues with potential staff reductions if goals aren’t met (that could be a problem for you, down the road).
“Remember, most bad bosses are not inherently bad people; they’re good people with weaknesses that can be exacerbated by the pressure to lead and deliver results,” writes Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries at Harvard Business Review. “So it’s important to consider not just how they act but why they’re acting that way.”
Practicing a little bit of empathy can get you a long way towards a good work environment.
Need to Vent? Do It Outside of Work
If you’ve got some beefs, and you need someone to talk to, consider a neutral third party, like a friend, or even a therapist. But watch out where you’re spilling your tea. You don’t want to be branded a company complainer to a potential next boss.
If you’re talking about personal issues, make sure your venting doesn’t turn into gossip that could get back to you in a bad way. Keep things anonymous and hypothetical if you’re discussing problems in a public forum.
And watch that social media! If you’re talking smack about a job or boss online, a potential future employer could see it and decide not to hire you. It could also get you fired.
Find a Positive Way to Effect Change
Even if you’re having a rough time, finding a path to feeling good when you go to work can be helpful. Are there internal organizations you can join to express your interests? Think about a volunteer group that gives back to your community. Or maybe you an organize a group that promotes fun activities where employees can blow off steam.
Warm-and-fuzzy work programs might include:
- Volunteering for community projects
- Organizing clothing or food drives
- Regular employee get-togethers to share ideas
- Classes or timely learning opportunities
- Competitions that let employees be creative and express themselves
- Celebrations and employee recognition
If you have one thing that makes you happy about work, then it can help you get through the hard stuff, one day at a time.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
Have you ever quit a job because of the boss? We want to hear about it! Share your story in the comments or join the discussion on Twitter.