Having a bad boss can be an extremely stressful situation. You may feel like you have no-one to turn to and that no-one else understands what you’re going through.
Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that 77% of employees experience stress symptoms caused by a bad boss at work, so you’re definitely not alone. But what can you do to handle the situation and try to make things better? Here are 6 tips for dealing with a bad boss.
1. Look at yourself first
Before you start pointing the finger at your boss, have a good look at yourself first. Are you totally sure that you’re not the one causing the problem? Make sure you’re above reproach so that your boss can’t use anything against you. Assessing your own performance honestly will also help you to prove to yourself that you’re good at your job, as constant negative comments can really get you down and cause you to question your own ability.
2. Try to understand your boss
Most people aren’t horrible for no reason. If you can work out what’s causing your boss to behave badly towards you, you’ll be in a better position to develop coping strategies. Is he or she under pressure from more senior management? Bad bosses are often insecure about their own abilities and take this out on junior colleagues. Try to put yourself in his or her shoes – it could help you to understand what drives your boss’s behaviour.
3. Consult your colleagues
Dealing with a bullying boss can be really upsetting and stressful. Talk to a few colleagues discreetly about the situation, but make sure you can trust them not to spread gossip. You may find that you’re not the only one being treated badly. Ask your colleagues how they handle the boss. They may be able to shed a bit of light on the situation and give you some helpful advice.
4. Speak up
If you feel that you’re in a position to do so, try talking to your boss about how they make you feel. They may be genuinely unaware that their behaviour is upsetting you. If you don’t feel like this is an option, you could try going higher up and talking to your boss’s boss. But before making a complaint, ensure you keep copies of any intimidating emails or bullying behaviour to prove your point. You don’t want to get labelled as a trouble-maker.
5. Go to HR
If all else fails, you can complain to HR. You should consider this as a last resort, as some HR departments can take the company’s side over the employee’s. If you do go to HR, make sure you have thoroughly documented your evidence – and be prepared to fight your corner as things could get ugly.
6. Shake it off
Whether you decide to stick it out at your company or find a new job, remember that work isn’t everything. Dealing with stress caused by an awful boss can become all-consuming and affect your health and relationships. Try not to take out your stress on your family and find other ways to deal with your worries. Exercise is a great way to shake off workplace anxieties. You could go for a walk in the countryside or knock seven bells out of a punch bag in the gym (while pretending it’s your boss…)