A bad boss can be more than enough to make your life miserable, and unfortunately, they are not that uncommon.
There is nothing worse than having a lousy boss.
It can drain off the joy of doing your job, leave you feeling like you are not valued, and wondering if it's time you should find something new.
But you know as well as we do that it is not really easy to find a new job, especially in today's economy. This will probably leave you feeling a lot more helpless as well.
It is for this reason that we decided to delve into the depths of this very common problem, and find solutions to it.
But there is a silver lining to not having a great boss, too.
It teaches you to develop executive leadership skills and practise some real self-leadership.
Research says that being overworked is not the reason behind people leaving their jobs.
A Danish study of 4,500 public service works proved that people don't leave jobs; they leave managers.
There is a common tendency to associate depression and stress with work pressure, but this study confirms that the workload actually has no effect on workplace depression.
However narrow-minded and fixed in his ways your boss may be, there are always ways to manage their expectations better.
The trick is to think of them as a difficult client. We are hoping that the strategies listed below will help you do exactly so.
Some of them may be difficult, but they are a way to take responsibility for your own success, and they will also help you understand how to manage a number of personalities which you will inevitably encounter in your professional life.
Know their 'Why'
The first thing you need to do to manage your boss better is to understand their prime motivations.
Knowing what they do is not enough; you need to know why they do the things they do.
The better you understand their reasons and motivations, the better equipped you are to deliver results, manage expectations and avoid confrontational situations.
Your boss' way may not be the most effective one according to you, but sucking it up and doing it their way is the best way to not get into trouble.
Once you understand what drives your boss, you can speak his language, and frame your opinions to line up with his core values, concerns and priorities, which will definitely help your current situation.
Work around their weaknesses
While it may sound counter intuitive to support a bad boss to more successful, there is nothing to be gained by making them look bad.
It is not uncommon for them to do that all by themselves, if they are truly as bad as you think they are.
Exposing his incompetence will only increase your own despair and may even harm your repute.
Help your boss focus on his own natural talents instead. Or you can also proactively work around his weaknesses.
For example, if your boss is disorganised, help him organise his work instead of just whining about his weakness.
If he's always late to meetings, offer to start the meeting for him till he gets there. If he's forgetful or changes his mind frequently, document your interactions with him by sending him emails so you can refer to them if he contradicts himself.
Making yourself indispensable and someone your boss can rely on to help him do his job is a valuable asset.
By doing what you can to help your boss succeed, you lay a solid foundation for greater success yourself.
It may not be an immediate reward, but in the long run, you can never lose by helping others do better than they otherwise would.
Take the high road
Just because your boss does not behave appropriately, does not mean you should do the same as well.
It is very common for people to start feeling entitled to slack off, take longer lunches, lose interest in their work or stop performing well because of their bad boss.
Avoid doing it. Keep your mind focused on your performance.
Make sure you stay upbeat and energetic while at work.
It is very easy to give in to resentment or resignation and heck yourself out of your job mentally, but this only undermines your own integrity and can also put you at a risk of being stamped as a whiner or a slacker, or both.
If your boss is prone to shouting, do not shout back. If they are narrow-minded, don't fall down to their level, however tempting that may be.
It is much more rewarding to maintain a calm and professional conduct while dealing with a difficult boss.
It is very easy to just quit a job instead of having a conversation about why you want to take the exit route.
Have the courage to speak up rather than cower in silence for fear of an awkward conversation.
No matter how difficult he is, you still owe your boss the opportunity to respond.
Don't prejudge and assume they aren't able to take feedback, or don't care about how miserable you are.
When you approach them with respect and with a genuine desire to make things work better, you can open the door to whole new levels of trust, collaboration and outcomes.
Adapt to their preferences
Observe your boss's behavioural style, preferences and pet peeves.
Is he fast-paced and quick to make decisions?
Is he slow to think about things, needing time to process information?
How does he like to communicate; via e-mail, in person drop-ins, or lengthy memos?
The more you can match your style to your boss's style when communicating, the more he will really hear what you're saying.
Don't be intimidated by a bully
People who bully get their power from those who respond by cowering and showing fear.
If your boss is a yeller, a criticizer, or a judge, stand firm. If you're doing the best job you can do, keep your head held high and don't give him the satisfaction of pushing you about.
Rather ask questions, seek to understand, and work to defuse a difficult situation instead of cowering or responding in anger.
It takes practice, but over time you will get better at it and he will look elsewhere for his power kick.
Do your research before jumping ship
Of course, the best way to manage a bad boss is not to have one in the first place.
So whenever you are looking to move into a new role in the same company or move to another organisation all together, invest some time to get a sense of the culture, the leadership and the sort of management practices that are tolerated and supported.
If you are moving internally, make sure you do your networking ahead of time to get a sense of both the environment within the team you might be moving to, and those who are creating it.
If you are moving to a new organisation, do your research to make sure you're not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Sometimes in our desperation to escape a toxic work environment we fail to take notice of the warning signs that the new job we're taking will only be worse.
Have a coffee with whoever you know at the new company to get a sense of the culture, employee engagement, moral, and management style.
Investing a few hours upfront could spare you a few years of frustration.
Have you worked with a difficult boss?
In what ways did s/he make your life difficult at work? And what did you do about it. Tell us!
Lead image: Kind courtesy YouthIncMag