10 Ways to Survive Working for a Terrible Boss

5 min read
Nov 22, 2016

bad bosses

Working for a bad boss is terrible. But instead of letting your less-than-optimal situation prevent you from reaching your goals, you’d be much better off treating your predicament as a learning experience and growing because of it.

According to Bloomberg, half of US employees have left their jobs at one point in time to get away from a bad boss. So if you find yourself working for someone you wish you weren’t, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

Take a deep breath. You can get through this and make the most of a bad time. Keep the following 10 tips in mind, and you’ll have no problem navigating the choppy waters until things get better — which, sooner or later, they will.


01. Maintain an open dialogue

Do you work for someone who tends to seem angry for no apparent reason? While your boss might expect you to read their mind, it’s probably safe to say you can’t. Rather than leaving anything to chance, communicate with your boss on a regular basis. Make sure you’re clear on all expectations. If something seems amiss, speak up. The more you communicate, the more likely you are to be on the same page.


02. Keep track of your interactions

Better safe than sorry. If you have a contentious relationship with your boss, keep a catalog of any questionable interactions. Should your bad boss become a completely horrible one, it’s best to have evidence on hand in case you needed to make your case.


03. Micromanage a micromanager

If you’re the kind of worker who loves independence, working for a micromanager can be soul-crushing. Sometimes, you’ve got to fight fire with fire. Flip the script. Ask your boss if you could meet to discuss projects every day. Either they’ll be on board and dig your commitment to the cause thereby improving your relationship or they’ll be overwhelmed and let you do your thing. It’s a win-win scenario.


04. Talk to your HR department

Are things particularly dicey? You don’t have to go in on your own. Your HR department is there for a reason. If you’re worrying that your relationship with your boss — or your boss’s performance — is having an adverse effect on team productivity, schedule an appointment with an HR rep and work through your problems. Be objective, cordial, and fair. You may find out that your situation improves quickly.


05. Stay in control of your emotions

Everyone gets stressed out at work at least every now and again. That’s totally natural and understandable. What’s not understandable is acting out of character and letting your emotions get the better of you in a regrettable way.

Increase your emotional intelligence, and you’ll be able to keep your emotions in check while also being able to put yourself in your boss’s shoes. As a result, you can effectively communicate to your boss in every kind of situation — even the most heated ones.


06. Ask how you can help

Maybe your boss is terrible because they’re under a lot of stress. Keep in mind that 70% of employees feel like they’re unable to do everything they’re told to do each week, something we uncovered in our Engagement Report. It could be your boss feels the same way. The easiest way to get on a bad boss’s good side is to see what you can do, specifically, to make their jobs more manageable. You never know when taking a task or two off their plate could drastically change things.



07. Continue to do great work

Even the most industrious worker might be tempted to start phoning it in after repeated unpleasant encounters with their bad boss. But you don’t want to give your employer a reason to punish you or misinterpret your lack of productivity as a personal flaw. It might be hard, but you need to power through your stressful situation. Try to take your mind off your emotions and personal feelings by pouring yourself into your work. Rise above the occasion. Who knows? Maybe your newfound motivation will end up fueling you as you produce the best work of your career.


08. Get creative

Maybe you find yourself in a situation where you’d love to invest all of your energy into your work, but there’s either not enough assignments on your plate or you loathe what you do.

Get creative and brainstorm new ways you could help your company. That could entail designing a new product or service, building a presence on a new social network, or coming up with a new marketing campaign, among other things. Even if you have the worst boss in the world, they probably won’t be too angry at you offering to tackle projects outside of your general responsibilities — a welcomed distraction.


09. Be patient

There’s a saying you might have heard: this too shall pass. Though you might dread showing up to work every day — and dread those adversarial 1:1 meetings you have every week — your work situation, in the grand scheme of things, is likely temporary.

There’s a good chance you’ll have a new job within the next few years. Your manager might move on too.

Bottom line: You have control over your own destiny. You have control over the way you respond to the situations you’re presented with. If you don’t like where you’re at professionally, make moves to better yourself. Be patient until the next opportunity presents itself to you.


10. Search for your dream job

Better yet, don’t wait until the next opportunity materializes. Take a proactive stance and start looking for your next job vigorously today. Keep your eyes open and apply to jobs on a regular basis until you find a mutual fit.

There’s no sense in wallowing in misery at a job you don’t like when you have the power to improve your own situation. There are a number of companies out there who are looking for candidates exactly like you. It may take a while to get some interest, but don’t lose hope. Before you know it, a hiring manager will see your application and realize you’re the person they’ve been searching for. Doors will open. You just need to walk toward them first.




Describe your image

Get Email Notifications