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How to deal with a bad boss

In the last several years, the job market has taken a turn. Because of this, people whose only qualification is "seniority" are often getting promoted to managerial roles.

This is no secret, but NOT EVERONE SHOULD BE A MANAGER.

This only adds to the countless number of bad bosses, making the rest of us need to learn how to deal with a bad boss.

So what can we do?

How to handle a bad boss

While your boss or manager may not ever be your choice, there are tactics we can use to help you (for lack of a better word) "manage your manager."

I help clients daily to work through conflict with their managers, and I have a pretty good list of how to deal with a bad boss. Here are a few common themes I've found as I work with my clients:

  1. Lack of knowing and understanding priorities

  2. Under communicating

  3. Not bringing up conflict at the appropriate time, in the appropriate way


I often recommend asking your boss what THEIR priorities are. If you can clearly label what they are looking for, you can cater your work and priorities to that thing.

Sometimes a "bad boss" is just someone who you have not set clear expectations and priorities with. The best way to deal with a bad boss in this instance, is to just straighten out a few priorities!

When I was managing a large team, my employees who tried to understand why I was asking them to do something are the team members who truly succeeded. It wasn't that they were the smartest or the most talented, it was that they found out the why, and understood expectations.

You can learn how to set clear expectations with your boss in my Career Confidence Course, "Advocating for Yourself at Work". Check it out!


Even if you have a 1:1 with your boss every WEEK, if you are not showing up with an agenda, and discussion points, you are wasting each other's time. Your boss is NOT your therapist. You are there to bring problems to their attention, share your accomplishments, and move your work and career forward.

Something I tell my clients is to always follow up when given a task from a boss- especially if it was asked off handedly. Send an email stating what they asked of you, what you're currently working on, and any questions of follow up you may have. OVER COMMUNICATE so that both of you know where you are in the process.


Bringing up conflict

One of the things that is CRUCIAL to a healthy work life and creating a good relationship with your boss is addressing conflict.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but if there is an issue you know will fester and bother you for more than a week, you need to bring it up.

This doesn't mean you need to call out your boss every time they annoy you, but use the "week" rule of thumb when in doubt. Ask yourself "Will this matter in a week?" If so, bring it up. If not, let it go.

If something is happening that hurts your feelings and you need to address it in the moment, please do! If you're wondering what do say, or how to say it, take my Career Confidence Course for "Advocating for Yourself at Work."

I would love to help you! It can be tough out there, especially when you are wondering how to deal with a bad boss. Take a breath, use your resources and remember to always remain professional and composed.

If things are truly bad, feel free to take this advice:


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