Blog: Dealing with a Difficult Boss - What Can You Do?

Dealing with a Difficult Boss - What Can You Do?

A great boss can make the experience of working a less than ideal job very positive. On the other hand, a difficult boss can make people question whether or not they want to continue with a job that they thought was perfect for them. While a boss may ultimately be so bad that quitting is the only option that makes sense, there are steps you can take before things get to that point.

Since dealing with a difficult boss is something many people have to do at some point during their career, here are four proven steps for managing this situation:

1. Start By Being Critical of Yourself

Before you place all the blame on your boss, it's important to be completely honest with yourself and determine if there's anything you're doing to trigger this behavior. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean you're being an awful employee or doing something blatantly wrong. There are plenty of examples of bosses who have various quirks that may cause them to respond negatively to something small. Being able to identify that behavior in yourself and then correct it can save you a lot of hassle.

2. Figure Out What Motivates Your Boss

If you aren't able to find anything specific you're doing to make your boss behave in a difficult way, the next step is to figure out exactly what motivates your boss. For example, there are some bosses who want to feel like they're guiding every single decision their employees make. Although that type of micromanaging isn't effective, playing along may be what's needed to smooth out the relationship you have with your boss.

3. Don't "Punish" Your Boss with Bad Work

Working for a difficult boss can be extremely frustrating. Some employees get pushed to the point where they decide that the best way to get back at their boss is to stop doing a good job. While it's easy to understand where that thought comes from, this strategy never works out in the favor of employees, which is why you should avoiding falling into it.

4. Get Instructions in Writing

A common reason that bosses are viewed as difficult is they frequently change their mind about what they want. You can help protect this type of behavior by getting instructions in writing. Even if it's just a quick email, having some kind of paper trail can help you protect yourself if your boss suddenly flips what was previously told to you.

If you ultimately decide that you can't deal with your boss and start looking for a new job, be sure to read our blog post on the strategies for answering 5 of the most common interview questions.

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