Who hasn’t been there: working for a bad boss! The truth is, many bosses are bad simply because they haven’t acquired training or skills. Therefore chances are high you will work for a bad boss if your corporate career lasts long enough. Some companies even assess your long-term ability based on how well you can handle a bad boss.
Fast Company Expert Kevin Kruse wrote a terrific article: When You Work For A Jerk: A 6-Point Plan For Dealing With A Bad Boss. Read it here.
Kruse presents 6 career planning steps to take, which I will summarize in my own words with my own comments.
What are you contributing to the situation?
Career planning begins by distancing yourself from the situation. What are you contributing? Are you bringing baggage from previous jobs or even family history?
But don’t let anyone tell you, “It’s your fault.” You may be a misfit. Your industry or company may have a cultural style that’s not a good fit for you. For instance, academia typically has a loose management style with emphasis on unwritten rules.
Some people just can’t work for a boss, even after years of therapy and thousands of dollars invested in coaching. If you recognize yourself here, start taking courses in entrepreneurship and begin working with a coach to start your own business. You may not be a natural entrepreneur but chances are you’ll adapt better to business ownership than to life with a boss.
What’s really going on here?
Your boss’s unrealistic demands may reflect pressures from her own boss. Alternatively, she may be struggling with her own personal issues – a divorce, bereavement or illness. If your company culture allows her to bring her personal problems to the office, you may have to start looking – discreetly – for a new job.
Coach your boss.
Kruse’s article suggests saying something like, “About that item from a few weeks ago –
I’d be much more efficient with that new software for my computer. Did you want me to follow through? I can call Frank myself if you like.”
I often encourage my clients to draw on analogies to dog training. If you keep saying “yes” to unreasonable requests, you’ve trained your boss to keep asking. You probably can’t refuse a request outright but you can emphasize choices: “If I work on X, I will have to put Y on the back burner. What would you like me to do?”
A boss who’s not coachable is like a dog who can’t be trained. You learn to work around it or somebody has to find a new home.
Are you gaining something beyond a pay check?
If you’ve saving large sums of money so you can take time off later, gaining a marketable skill or paying dues for a big promotion. you should hang on if you’re not risking your sanity.
Will this situation go on forever?
My friend “Professor Bob” says, “You don’t like the dean? No problem. He’ll be gone in a year or two.”
Of course, in some situations, nobody moves. And that will probably include you! If your boss hasn’t moved on, where will you be? You’ve got to start searching for a new position, within the company or outside.
Sometimes you have to walk, no matter what.
Kruse emphasizes that sometimes you have to quit and you shouldn’t wait too long. “Great talent,” says Kruse, “always has options.” You have to be CEO of your career. When you stick with a bad boss for too long, you might actually be lowering your chances of succeeding elsewhere.
And if you’re bad boss is transforming your environment so much that you hate your job … check out this video: