3 things to do if you hate your boss

In a world where your manager changes more often than your address, at some point in your career, you will end up with a manager you hate. Hating your boss has all sorts of side benefits. Like making your life miserable, adding to your stress, and probably lowering the quality of your work.

The situation is ugly. But, it’s real. What’s a Cubicle Warrior to do?

Outlast the boss

If your manager changes every twelve months — or three — the easiest option to do is simply wait out. Keep doing excellent work and wait until the next reorganization. At least you keep the rest of what you like about your job — your coworkers, the company and the work — while waiting for the idiocy to go someplace else.

Vent in a safe place

Never vent about your boss at work with your coworkers. You don’t necessarily know the relationships your boss has with other people or where the connections are that will lead back to your poor taste. There is simply no percentage in venting about a boss you hate and having the boss find out about it.

Vent, instead, to your spouse or partner. Vent to your closest friends. And that doesn’t mean venting on Facebook; my saying is that “what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.” You don’t use social media as an opportunity to screw up your career.

Instead, venting means you vent face-to-face or over the phone. Express your frustration, but determine how you will approach your boss in your interactions to keep your frustration in check.

Limit your interactions with your boss — and focus on your performance

I call this “transactional” relationships. A transactional relationship is where you work with someone on specific transactions that need doing, moving all personal feelings aside, and when the transaction is done you go on with your life. This, of course, is easier said than done. But worth getting to since it will lower your stress levels about working with someone you hate.

As well, the interaction with your boss needs focusing on your work and how best deliver what is needed to your manager. Focusing on how best to deliver your work to your manager usually translates into a manager shifting into a “helping” role and gets rid of a lot of bad behavior. You do this even though you don’t need the help. It is just trying to figure out a best way to work with this person.

Make a decision about how long the job will last

These three actions are all temporary. They assume that at some point down the road the circumstances and reporting structures will change. But the decision you need to make now is how long you can stand to work for a jerk before the jerk ruins your reputation in the company and your work quality falls.

You need to lay out the conditions where other actions are warranted — like looking for a different job. But you need to decide that line in the sand now because it is easy to simply put up with the situation and, suddenly, a year has gone by and nothing has changed. Decide where the line in the sand is so that when you get to it, you can evaluate what needs doing next.

What have you done that was effective in dealing with a boss you hate?

24 Responses to 3 things to do if you hate your boss

  1. Stephen says:

    Interesting post. A few things…

    Outlasting Your Boss
    I understand what you’re saying, but what if your boss has the mentality of, “They think I’ll leave?! Heck no! I’ll outlast them!” This method, I feel may not be wise if you truly cannot work with your superior. Other methods should be employed to remedy the situtation.

    Vent In A Safe Place
    Or… don’t vent at all! You never know how people are connected, and there’s always the chance that it could get back to your employer. I’ve seen it happen.

    Limit Interactions
    I don’t agree. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I don’t agree with this method. The #1 skill in the workplace is communication. If your boss doesn’t meet your expectations of a manager, then perhaps communicating to them would be the best plan of action. All too often people assume they know what their managers are thinking and end up being completely off base. I say don’t guess… just ask. It can be frightening, but at least you’re getting issues out in the open to then discuss solutions to the perceived problem. It’s called transactional, really? Communication is a transactional process where the sender and receiver are mutually involved in said discussion. There’s give and take, right?

    Make A Decision
    I’ve dealth with my share of “bad” managers. Sometimes, after all the talking and trying to do everything by the book, it just isn’t worth it. If you see yourself in a position like that, perhaps one should examine what exactly would make them happy. I feel that people have the mindset that work = misery. It doesn’t have to be this way. Find your niche. Do what you want, and go from there! Life’s too short to let an idiot *boss* you around.

    I hope this helps!!

    P.S. I was once a “cubicle warrior,” but now I refuse… :-)

  2. Chances are if you work for a Prick -ly boss they never learned the value of leading the right way. They are probably parroting how they were treated.

    No matter how much of a jerk they are…if you make them look good you are safe. Focus on adding value to your organization and serving your clients, and often times you will outlast the Prick -ly Boss.

    I discuss this in my post at http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/12-mentor-moments-to-help-leaders-grow-their-businesses-profitably/ and check out #2.

    Mark Allen Roberts

  3. Scot says:

    @Stephen — good commentary here and thanks for taking the time to write it.

    On outlasting the boss, it is not so much that the bad manager leaves, but the reorganizations that take place in the company will take them away with you needing to do nothing. I never had, save one, a manager for two performance reviews in a row. I did pretty much the same work, but the reorgs moved the manager out. Including some I really liked!

    On venting, true enough, not venting at all might be right. I just think that people will need to vent to lower their frustration with the situation. So if you need to vent, getting to a safe place to do so will help and not harm your career.

    On limiting your interactions, I can see there is an assumption in my statement — the assumption is that you’ve tried these communications methods and none of them work. After that, you are left with a transactional relationship; better than nothing.

    But, yes, one needs to have the communication with the manager and both need to figure out a way to work with each other. It’s just that some managers (and employees; this is equal opportunity) are simply very difficult to work with.

    On making a decision, yes, often it isn’t worth the psychological harm going and a person should leave. That’s the reason to figure out the line in the sand where you decide enough is enough and you start looking for another job. Part of that is figuring out what needs trying to get to a good working relationship. Part of that is deciding that after taking ten different approaches to getting to a working relationship and none of them work is to look for a different job.

    All a good perspective. Thanks again for your thoughts.

    • Apalera says:

      Scot, if someone has decided to leave, what and how is the best way to do an exit interview? Should someone tell the truth and the reason of his frustrations? Or just leave quietly and move on because you found a better job anyway?

      • Scot Herrick says:

        To a degree, it depends on your relationship with the company and your reasons for leaving. My principles on exit interviews are 1) avoid having them, 2) if you must be in one, offer constructive criticism about the company (one thing to improve upon could be…), 3) offer positive points about the company, not just negative opportunities to improve.

        You can’t complain about managers, coworkers, or policies; there is no percentage in doing so.

        Remember, it is HR’s responsibility to protect the company from lawsuits — not to help you in your career or in your work. An exit interview is HR protecting the company from lawsuits and then secondarily seeing if there is information there to help the company improve.

        Smaller companies have the same principles, but it is possible to have much closer relationships with the owners and constructive advice to them could have a much better outcome — or much worse if you are in a smaller town and the owners are well known and could casually cut you off from jobs in other places.

        Cynical, I know. But I’m pretty conservative when it comes to exit interviews. There is just no plus-side for you no matter how you look at it.

  4. [...] 3 things to do if you hate your boss – Cubicle Warriors gives us three tips on dealing with a boss you hate. I especially like number one, outlast them. [...]

  5. Julia says:

    It is a godsend that I have just read this post. My situation in work is such that I have joined a smallish (but growing) company at the time when I desperately needed to find a job. They took me on a position that never existed there before, and generally I felt good about it, and enjoyed working there. But increasingly I began to feel that I was sharing a lot, not replenishing enough, and in the last couple of months I began to feel as if I am getting more alienated. The chance of any of my bosses leaving is nil because of how the company was set up. And communication isn’t the forte of some of the people I have to work with. Ultimately, after 7.5 months I realised that I don’t feel secure enough, that I didn’t see career prospects here, and that things that must be different because they’re the fundamental things within an organisation are not going to change any time soon. This was my line in the sand. I have started looking for a new job.

  6. Scot says:

    @ Julia — thanks for sharing this as it raises a good point. Humans are very adaptable and we just keep on going. Then one day we wake up and wonder how we got where we did.

    That’s why it is important that once you recognize a situation might not be the same any more or doesn’t feel right, you sit down and analyze it — you get a baseline of what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to change so that you will stay. If it doesn’t get better, then you can make other decisions.

    But, without the baseline…doing the analysis…you’ll still be in a bad situation a year later and wonder where the time went — and your sanity.

    Good luck and glad this article helped clarify your situation for you.

  7. [...] Herrick brings it all home with 3 Things to do if You Hate Your Boss: In a world where your manager changes more often than your address, at some point in your career, [...]

  8. [...] Herrick brings it all home with 3 Things to do if You Hate Your Boss: In a world where your manager changes more often than your address, at some point in your career, [...]

  9. jeteye says:

    Leave! If your company continues to supply you with an amply supply of idiots for bosses, do you really want to stay?

  10. jeteye says:

    Leave! If your company continues to supply you with an amply supply of idiots for bosses, do you really want to stay?

    • Scot says:

      @ jeteye — Just leave? No other job in this economy? Lose health insurance? Lose unemployment?

      I don’t think you can just leave, even if you want too. You can make a decision to leave and start looking for another job, but before you get one, you need to give yourself some time and a way to keep the emotional impact of a crappy boss at a tolerable level. All of it requires a steely-eyed look at your circumstances and your needs. Then using your judgment to make the right choice for you. Leaving is one of the options, especially if the company’s culture is one of poor management, but it takes time and effort to leave.

  11. diana says:

    I'am working for a company for 13 yrs we have new boss since day one he try to get rid of me, ever since i'v been written up twice and had 6 memos in my file this never happen until he got on board last year. i want to leave i'am scared too. but this stress has me in the hospital and stress
    alot with medications. should i leave.

  12. Scot Herrick says:

    Of course you should leave. Start looking now.

    • diana says:

       thank you scott for your reply, but  i stuck it out and he wwas ask to leave the company, now we have anew boss and now shes worst then  him  she came on board in  sept 2010 now she has written up  more then 1/2 my co- workers she went head and fire one of my co- workers 2 weeks ago she has been there 12 yrs. i felt real bad. now guess what? she wrote me up twice
      and the last meeting she was bringing up the 7 written up memos from my last boss. isn’t this illegal. when she first got there she treated me so nasty i don’t feel comfortable no more there its going 15 years at my job, i need help i’ve been looking elswhere.

  13. [...] 3 Things To Do If You Hate Your Boss: Great tidbits on what you would want to do (and keep in mind) if you hate your boss. [...]

  14. PoutyLoki says:

    Thought I would share my excitement with ya’ll. The boss that has been the thorn in my side for the last three years is leaving in 3 days. Yeah baby! I waited it out, and VICTORY. I have decided to keep my delight to myself, I’m even gonna sign the card my co-workers are getting her, and if asked will donate any amount they need for the cake and/or gift they wanna get her. Cause she is going, going, GONE! I can afford to be generous with only 3 days left. Best part….Her replacement is my best friend. Hello EASY STREET! So, keep the faith out there. Bad bosses go to Hell.

    • Ccedwards0 says:

      Wow – that is very impressive.

      I almost blew up at my boss this morning.  I came close enough and said enough that he knows something is wrong.

      I wish I could be more like the others and keep stuff in but I have never been able to manage this my entire life.

      I like the transactional approach – what would you like me to do?  Ok.  Sure.

      I can barely stand to look at this person but I need to remember to focus on my job and doing the best I can at that. 

      I like and get along with my co-workers. 

      Unfortunatley, I’ve vented quite a bit with just two co-workers who have also shared there similar takes on the boss. 

      I know I’m not the only one but unfortunately the company is small and run by sons of the founder.  They have no interest in making the company better for the employees and view us simply as the means to more money, power, etc…

      • Scot Herrick says:

        I’ve worked for family owned companies. There are ones that are fabulous and work to ensure everyone is treated well. And others where it is all about the family and the rest of the people working there are to aid and support the family.

        Easy choice: this will be how it is for the rest of the time working there. Good enough to stay? Or is it time to leave? No other choice in this one because you can’t outlast the family. Thanks for leaving this comment; it is an important addition to the choices we have to make as employees.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      Three years is a long time to wait, so good for you in hanging in there. And a word of caution: your best friend is now in a different role and could very easily be the hardest person you’ve worked for just so he or she doesn’t show any favoritism.

      Be careful what you wish for — it’s not all Easy Street!

  15. Swazi Kortjas says:

    i dont hate my job , but my boss hates me too much in such away that he told his friends that i cannt  do my job properly, its been three years working for him and there is no increase , he is very hard in such away that i cant even apprach him regarding salary increase , please help how approach acrual boss regarding the salary increase.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      You don’t approach him for an increase because you already know the answer will be no. The only answer to a bad boss is to either wait him or her out until you get a new manager or find a different job in your company or a different company. Or deal.

      There is no magic bullet that will solve this problem for you; your boss won’t change his or her behavior, so you need to do something different.

  16. AHMED says:

    what if what i hate is his personality and less his demands meaning he don’t know what he need he keeps on asking the same thing in tiny details???

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