What to Do About a Bad Boss

Reyna loves her job. It’s close to home, she has lots of freedom, and it involves the things she’s passionate about doing. There’s just one drawback. She has a bad boss. If it weren’t for his mistreatment, this would be her dream job. But Reyna is tired of being insulted, misrepresented, and held back because of his insecurities.

Jake thought he would like his new job. But right from the beginning, his boss has been demeaning, blaming everyone except herself, and displaying her temper every time something doesn’t go exactly the way she planned. Jake has tried reasoning with her and politely pointing out discrepancies in her thinking when he can, but the boss is basically immature, blind to her own shortcomings, and unfit to be a leader.

Have you ever wondered what to do about a bad boss? If so, you’ve probably discovered that you have three options, assuming that you have already tried to work things out with your boss in person:

Keep your head down and just keep going.

Badmouthing your boss is unprofessional and would only make you a smaller person, so doing your best and hoping your boss doesn’t take all the credit for your great performance may seem like a good option. Ignoring the bad behavior won’t be pleasant, but if you really love your job like Reyna does, the benefits might outweigh the cost–at least short-term. And going out of your way to make yourself irreplaceable could benefit you if or when your boss moves on.

But ask yourself, in the long run, is your level of stress really worth sticking it out? Ryan Mann, our Direct Hire Manager, has talked to lots of unhappy job seekers over the years. He says, “If you like your job but can’t work with your boss, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later. The boss is going to stunt your career development and affect everything you do at work. There’s a good reason for the idiom, ‘People don’t quit their jobs–they quit their bosses.'”

Start looking for a new job.

It might be better to quietly look for a different job. No two jobs will ever be exactly alike, so if you already had your dream job like Reyna, it may be difficult to find another “perfect” job. But if you interview intelligently, the change will likely grow you professionally and bring you opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have had–plus, hopefully, a better boss. If you didn’t love your last job, a job change could improve your entire situation–better opportunities, better leadership, better company culture. Just be sure to ask really good interview questions and screen the new opportunity to make sure you’re really a good fit for the new manager’s style. There’s no sense in jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!

Look for ways to get your boss fired.

What?! Yes, advises Susan Heathfield. When you like your job, your co-workers, and the company, but you can’t take the boss’s bullying anymore, it may be time to get him fired! “The very best way is to set up a situation in which the boss will exhibit the worst of his behaviors publicly and in front of his boss. It’s not as if his boss has not heard rumors before about his behavior, but he may have been unaware of how bad the behavior really is.”

Heathfield suggests that you take a few steps beforehand to prepare for such a setup:

  • Try to talk to HR in confidence first.
  • Talk to your union or government representative if you have one.
  • Document each incidence of your boss’s bad behavior.
  • Document issues other employees have had with the boss as well.
  • Develop a working relationship with your boss’s boss before you ever make a complaint.
  • Seek allies and witnesses among fellow employees.

If this sounds like more of a battle then you’ve got the stomach for, cautions Heathfield, know that the outcome depends on what your organization and its culture value. Even if you’ve prepared your case well, if the company values your boss more than it values you, you still could end up losing your job.

The issue of what to do about a bad boss is complex, and your choice can have lasting consequences. If you do nothing, you could hurt yourself and your career. If you leave, you take a chance on starting all over again in a new job. If you stay and decide to try to get your boss fired, you chance being fired yourself. No matter what you choose, there is risk–all the more reason to see your next interview as an opportunity to screen your future employer, not just their opportunity to screen you!

Amtec actively serves customers all over the United States who seek top professionals with well-rounded skills. If we don’t have the most current version of your resume, please click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions. Also, to receive updates and alerts with new job opportunities that match your interests, join our Talent Network.

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