How To Deal With A Bad Boss

Bad bosses are the number one cause of turnover in companies.

I’ve heard it said that people are always promoted to their level of incompetence… think about it…

If someone is REALLY great at their job, they usually get promoted… but what if they are NOT great at the next job?

They usually get to “sit” there in the next spot because they’re “good enough” – and that’s the making of a bad boss.

Let’s give some slack, though – usually, someone in that position (promoted to their level of incompetence) could improve with the right training… but that’s their boss’s job to do, not yours.

So, how do YOU deal with the bad boss when you can’t train them?

Two words:

Manage Up

This is an incredible on-the-job and trial-by-fire opportunity for YOU to become a great manager! Be proactive and look for opportunities to practice some real leadership skills.

Major mindset shift:

Stop thinking of your boss as your boss.

Think of him/her as a really difficult client. Clients are appreciated, even if they are difficult – so just shifting your idea of your boss will help you to develop new communication patterns in this area. When you have a difficult client, it challenges you to get creative in ways to keep them happy and engaged.

Some additional strategies for you:

  1. Fill The Gaps
    As a manager, I always hired people who were good at doing what I was not good at doing.
    Many people (with low self-esteem) would find this intimidating; I found it a secret to success.
    Figure out what your boss’s weaknesses are and fill the gaps in supportive ways.
  2. Give Credit Away
    I got more credit in my corporate career by applauding the participation of others than by telling people how much I’d done.
    When I gave the credit away, the people who received the credit immediately lobbed it back to me.
    This doesn’t mean that when someone tells you thank you for something you actually did that you say, “No… Joe did it…” – it means that when you have the chance, publicly recognize other people (including your boss) for their part in it and present it as a team accomplishment.
    This will get you major brownie points and show you’re in it for everyone, not just yourself.
  3. Know The Motivation
    If you have a bad boss you likely do not want to get to know him/her better, but too damn bad.
    Put on your big girl/boy pants and do it.
    Figure out what keeps him/her up at night, what he/she cares about, what he/she loves more than anything else…
    Know like the back of your hand the kind of praise and feedback he/she needs to get from above, laterally, and from the team, and then fill that need in every way you can.
  4. Speak Up
    Only after you have exercised every other option, you owe it to yourself, your co-workers, and the company to speak up.
    If your boss is really really bad, you have to tell someone about it.
    Chances are, they realize it already.
    It takes courage to speak up.
    Many times my clients and I will design personal strategies for doing this that graduate through all of the steps before going to HR.
    Most of the time, we don’t have to get this far… sometimes we do.
    Don’t think of it as tattling, being a bell-ringer, or being a chicken… think of it as standing up for yourself (and the little guy).
    If there’s bullying involved, this may be unavoidable.

Depending on your industry and job function, if your bad boss is not going anywhere and you have no recourse, then you may want to check out the job market. We can help with your shift through our Successful Transition program – it’s fast, easy, and expert-guided with personal attention to get you into a new professional seat with top compensation.

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