When Your Boss Sucks and What To Do About It
One day I came to work, and my boss wasn’t there. I was surprised; she was usually there before anyone else. It was later that day I found out why she wasn’t there. She’d been fired. At first I was shocked; I thought should was a good leader and supervisor. But sometimes you don’t know the full story and this was definitely one of those cases. Apparently, she’d been actively breaking the NDA, and possibly with people who could use the information she’d been dispensing.
Not quite the scenario that comes to mind when you think about how much your boss sucks, huh? Here’s another one: A different boss, at a different place, was just the worst. She had no sense of leadership, propriety, and talked to the co-workers like she was hanging out at the bar. Which is fine, except we were in a pre-school.
There are all sorts of way that people don’t live up to our expectations of leadership. Often it’s because they weren’t trained, or they didn’t have a role model to learn from. I’m lucky that I’ve had both, and between the training and modelling, I’ve learned how to identify poor leadership and what you can do about it.
When the work environment reaches a place where you can’t really do your job anymore because of the relationship you have with your boss, you know it’s time for someone to go. It’s either you or them.
You should want to work in a place where you get along with your co-workers. Here are some signs that your boss sucks:
- Talks shit behind your back, or talks about co-workers behind their backs
- Gives contrary orders or difficult tasks with impossible deadlines
- Expects more from you that what your job title does
- Makes you feel uncomfortable, or unsafe
- Says things about their personal life that makes you wonder if you should tell a legal authority
- Bullies you into doing work outside of office hours, or outside your job description, or something illegal
When we’re young, and just starting out in the world, we’re often so grateful to have a job that when people treat us poorly, we accept it gracefully (or at least without comment) and continue on. We don’t think we deserve the treatment, but we’re conditioned to take the abuse in an effort to build our credibility and work history.
You know that’s not right, right?
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
Talk with your supervisor about their behavior – yeah, I know it’s going to be terrifying, but there’s a chance they don’t know what kind of asshole they are. A client of mine recently told me during their last interview the supervisor referred to herself as a bitch several times. The client knew to expect a certain level of behavior, and talking to the supervisor wouldn’t have been helpful in this situation. If the behavior started out of nowhere they could be having a life change and subsequently acting out at work. But if they’re just a terrible person and they don’t know, you can let them know.
Talk to their supervisor about their behavior
If you feel unsafe around your supervisor, and you don’t want to or can’t afford to find a new job, consider talking to the supervisor’s supervisor. You can bring it up as an off record conversation and feel the situation out, or you can file a formal complaint. If you work for a larger organization they might have a policy in place for reporting employees. You’ll want to make sure you follow that policy to the letter, in case there is any blowback.
Apply for a different position within the company
If the company is on the larger side, chances are you’re not there to do menial work anyway. If you’re wondering if you have enough experience to even ask for a promotion, the answer is probably yes. As part of the application, you’ll want to create an internal resume of the work you’ve done, and take the time to highlight your accomplishments for the company. Anytime you’ve saved them money, helped them increase profits, or found a solution for a problem, it needs to be detailed. If your company has an internal hiring/promotion process you’ll need to follow that as closely to policy as possible.
Now I know you’re already thinking, “this person isn’t going to give me a reference!” but you might be surprised. Again, even though people have terrible workplace behavior, when tasked to think about what’s best for the company, they tend to put aside their personal feelings. Which leads me to my next point…
Don’t take it personal –
You are not going to get along with everyone you meet. Not everyone is going to like you. And there is nothing you can do about it. What you can do though, is try your best to meet the person where they’re at. If you are having constant communication problems, try to identify where things are getting missed, and then fill in the blanks.
Quit your job –
Sometimes things cannot be figured out. You cannot escape, and your mental health cannot take the pressure of having a terrible boss. That’s okay. I highly recommend finding another position before you put your two weeks in. There are a couple of reasons for this. 1) You are infinitely more employable when you’re employed. 2) If you can seamlessly switch into a new job, your finances won’t get all messed up through unemployment. 3) Its the professional thing to do, even if you are ready to stick it to the company.
When your boss sucks, your work situation can feel impossible but you have more control over your life and career than you think. If things aren’t the way you need them to be, then change it. You have the power to do that. Be empowered and take your life back.
Thank you for being here today.
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