How to deal with a difficult boss

by | 19.04.24

In an ideal world we would all have fantastic Managers, bosses who help us succeed, who makes us feel valued and who are just all round great people.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case.  But when the person you work for is a Micromanager, has anger management problems, shows favoritism towards one person, is a flat out workplace bully or is just not very competent you still have to make the most of the situation and get your job done.  Here are some tips to help you find some common ground with your boss – or at least to stay sane until you find a new job.

Your boss is incompetent

If your boss seem to have no idea of what they are doing, it would be easy to just think they are useless but try to observe them for a few days to try and notice now many things they do well versus poorly.  When they are doing something ‘bad’ try to image the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred.

Identify your Boss’ motivation

Understanding why your boss does not care about certain things can give you an insight into their management style.  If rules are being broken by some staff members maybe it’s not that they really care about how long they had for lunch, maybe they actually care about how it looks to other employees and the big boss.

Don’t let is affect your work

No matter how your boss is, avoid letting if affect your work.  You want to stay on good terms with other Managers in the Company and keep your job.  Don’t work slowly, take sick days off or long lunches this will build a case for your boss to give you the old heave ho – before you’re ready to go.

Stay one step ahead

This is especially true when you are dealing with a Micromanager, head off your boss’ requests by anticipating them and getting things done before they ask for them.  That way your boss will realise you take your responsibilities seriously and you don’t need to be watched all the time.

Set Boundaries

Working with someone who seems to have no boundaries means that you have to go ahead and set them.  One of the challenges of unlikable people is that they come with equally unlikeable behavior and its important to learn how to distance yourself from it.  At the end of the day – good fences make good neighbours.

Stop assuming the boss knows everything

Just because someone has a managerial title doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, all of the time.  Once you accept that the title of Manager is not equivalent to ‘all knowing’ it will make it easier for you to understand your boss and accept that sometimes they may not know everything.

Act as the leader

When dealing with an incompetent boss sometimes it’s best to take some leadership decisions on your own.  If you know your job well enough there is  no reason not to just get on with it.  The management team, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative.  Don’t undermine your boss so always keep them in the loop.

Identity triggers

If your boss has anger management problems, identify what triggers their meltdown and be extra vigilant about avoiding those.  For example if your boss flips it there are spelling mistakes in letters you have typed be sure to double and triple check the work you produce.

Use couples therapy tips

When dealing with a disagreement with your boss pull on some tips from couples therapy to work through the issue.  Simply confirm with your boss what there are unhappy about and work with them to ensure that they are happy with what you do moving forward.  Ensure that you definitely give your boss the chance to feel that there side of the disagreement has been heard and that you understand.

Avoid future bad bosses

When you are looking for a new job do your research ahead of time make sure you’re not getting into another situation with a less than ideal Manager.  Make sure you meet with your potential line Manager before accepting a job and try to judge whether you are going to get on with them or not.

Having a difficult boss is a horrible situation for anyone, you can manage a bad boss but sometimes it is impossible and if that’s the case you need to start looking for a new job.  Never be unhappy in a role it really isn’t worth it.

Angela Burton