Ten Ways to Deal with Difficult Bosses


Difficult Boss 1
A tough boss can become the bane of your working existence. We’ve all had one at least once, and anyone who has dealt with a problematic manager is someone who knows that the key to getting through it is more than just trying to ignore the issue until it goes away. If you’ve currently got a difficult boss on your hands, fear not – there is a light at the end of the tunnel! All it takes is some awareness of ways to identify and understand the person giving you a hard time at work. Here are our top tips for ways to remedy a bad boss situation.

Get to Know Your Boss

Difficult Boss 2You know those spy movies where the protagonist is always really skilled at learning everything about the person they are watching? Well, we’re not suggesting you stake out your boss like in those films, but you could take a few tips from film spies about ways to learn more about how your boss works with others. Observe them over the course of a week or so, and keep track of everything they work on, and how they interact with others. Try to act as a third-party observer with zero stakes in the situation – is the problem they have with you replicated around the workplace?

Identify Their Goals

Difficult Boss 3Once you’ve finished with your mini “stake-out,” you should have a pretty good idea of who your boss is as a colleague, employer, and member of the company. You should also know enough about them to be able to identify where their most significant challenges lay. If you notice they are struggling and time-consumed with specific projects, try to find ways to help them. Although you may not like your boss very much, the less stressed they are, the more comfortable they will be to interact with.

Keep Away from Their Dislikes

Difficult Boss 4A big tip is identifying your boss’s triggers. What sets them off? You probably have already been on the receiving end of a few of these scenarios, so think about them and pinpoint any patterns that pop up. Is your boss big on deadlines, and despises when someone asks for an extension? Perhaps they like to micro-manage and hate when an employee doesn’t check in during projects for advice or senior insight. Learn their triggers and do what you can to avoid them.

Learn What They Like

Difficult Boss 5Another right way to deal with a demanding boss is to study the people in the office they like. It’s pretty essential for you to identify what they value in an employee, and you can do that through observing who they seem to get along with and praise. Notice what that person does to stay on your boss’s best side; maybe he/she likes to work autonomously or often takes the initiative on projects? Or, on the opposite spectrum, perhaps that person wins over your boss by constant updates on work?

Ask for Help

Difficult Boss 6Any boss appreciates an employee who asks for feedback and performance critique. The ability to do this demonstrates an apparent willingness to learn; and of course, strokes your boss’s ego a bit. Approach your boss and set up a meeting where you can discuss your work to-date. Do not get defensive during the session or offensive either. Instead, structure the meeting so that you both can open a line of honest communication, centered around your work. It could also be an invaluable chance to find out if your manager is unhappy with something you are doing at work, which could lie at the root of the adverse boss problem.

Be on Top of Your Work

Difficult Boss 7Another method to managing a tricky boss is being so on top of your work that they can’t find much to complain about. Turn in your projects and tasks ahead of time, and make sure all you do is to the highest standard. Make sure others in the office also notice that you’re putting in a lot of effort and achieving results. If your boss is someone who doesn’t seem to trust you and wants to micromanage constantly, give them a reason not to.

Follow Your Inner Leader

Difficult Boss 8You could have tried everything, and the heart of the problem is that your boss is incompetent. A scenario like this happens more than we’d like to admit. Try to find a space in the workload where you can take the initiative and generate better results than what the team has been doing and go for it. The trick here is not undermining your boss; make sure to talk to them about your ideas and what extra work you’re willing to take on. Also, be sure other people in the office know about any leadership you successfully do because it’ll make it harder for your boss to attempt to take credit.

Find Another Mentor

Difficult Boss 9If all else fails, it’s unlikely that your boss is the only leader in the entire company. Create and build connections with other members of senior leadership. A move like this could be your saving grace; if your boss is unhappy with you for reasons unrelated to your work performance, they won’t be singing your praises in high-level meetings. But if you manage to impress another leader in the business, they could very well do that for you – and even step up to bat if for any reason your boss is trying to downplay your work performance.

Let Go

Difficult Boss 10You spent most of your week in the office. Your work environment influences your entire life, both professional and personal. If you’ve got a bad boss, it makes sense that you’d be affected. However, if it’s possible, try and remove your emotion from the situation. Don’t hold a grudge. Do your absolute best and learn to expect less from this person, but don’t let that detract from your happiness in the workplace. If nothing else is working, consider speaking to someone else in higher management who you trust about your problems with your boss. They could offer advice or escalate things if need be.

Be Smart About Where You Work

Difficult Boss 11We’ve all been there with a perverse boss. It’s no party, and often can take away from a workplace, no matter how hard we try not to let it. What we can do is learn for the next job we undertake. When you go into any future interviews, make it your personal goal to learn as much about the management team as possible. Research old employee reviews and feel confident that you won’t end up with another lousy boss in the new company before signing on.

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Ten Ways to Deal with Difficult Bosses

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