10 Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Guides - 9 months ago
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Have you ever gone into your first day at the job of your dreams and quickly realized, “Oh no, my boss is a huge jerk who takes his personal problems out on everyone!”

Just like that, your dream job turned into a total nightmare.

What should you do? Should you quit on your first day? Do you try to get fired? Or do you just deal with and accept your miserable existence forever?

Here’s where it gets better:

Having a difficult boss can make going into work everyday a real pain, but you don’t have to accept your nightmare job and deal with being miserable forever. There are steps you can take better understand and communicate with your boss and make both of your lives easier.

Here are the 10 best tips for dealing with a difficult boss:

1. Make sure you’re actually dealing with a bad boss and that you don’t just have a bad attitude

Before you start writing off your boss as some oblivious ass hat, ask yourself — Is there why they’re acting a certain way, or am I just being a big whiny baby?

Observe their behavior for a few days and see how many things they do well, versus how many things they mess up or don’t put a lot of effort into. Whenever they’re doing something wrong, ask yourself if it could be something that’s out of their control, of if there’s another forgivable reason for their poor performance.

If your boss is overall pretty dang good at their job, you might be the problem in this scenario. Is there a reason why your boss seems bad to you? Are they micromanaging or using another management style that bothers you? If so, adjust your work habits to appease your boss and get them off your back.

2. Try to figure out their goals and priorities

Try to identify your boss’s biggest challenges and ask what you can do to help them and resolve their concerns, instead of just doing what you can to scrape by.

Being able to assist with your boss’s priorities will help in the overall success of your department or company. Plus, it’s much better than having an overworked, stressed out boss who starts flying off the handle at the smallest trigger.

On that note…

3. Identify which triggers set them off

If your boss has anger management issues or otherwise gets overwhelmed easily, it’s probably in your best interest (and that of your coworkers) to identify just what causes their meltdowns.

Figuring out how to read your boss’s moods and triggers will also help you communicate more effectively with them. There are times when you may not want to introduce new ideas, or you can learn to avoid certain behaviors that cause your boss to lose their shit.

For example, if your boss freaks out over typos, make sure to triple check your work before submitting it. If they go rabid when you’re a minute late for work, aim to be ten minutes early everyday.

4. Figure out their work style and what they value in an ideal employee

Understanding your boss’s work style and what they value in an employee is a great way to form a better relationship with them and keep them from harassing you everyday.

Do they like frequent communication and updates throughout the day? Do they prefer for their employees to work autonomously, or do they like for everyone to collaborate? Are they informal and want to discuss the latest Game of Thrones episode, or do they prefer to keep it strictly business?

The better you understand your boss’s expectations and their work style, the better you’ll be able to work with them.

5. Ask for feedback

A great way to keep your boss happy and keep them from working over your shoulder is to make sure that you’re always on the same page. How can you do this? Easy — just ask for feedback!

You and your boss can’t read each other’s minds. If there’s something you’re doing wrong, asking for feedback will give your boss the opportunity to help you. If you’re doing everything right, asking for feedback will give them the chance to recognize your awesome work.

Being able to communicate and have a conversation with your boss is key to having a great working relationship.

6. Always be one step ahead

If you have a boss that loves to micromanage and check in with you multiple times everyday, a great way to get them off your back is to anticipate their requests and having them done before they even come to check in with you.

Tackle all of your projects and get them done way ahead of time. That way, when they see that you’re always ahead of schedule, they’ll realize that they don’t need to watch your every move and, ideally, give you more space.

7. Act as a leader when you need to

If you’ve got an incompetent boss on your hands, sometimes it’s in your best interest to take on some of those big leadership decisions on your own.

If you know the area and the project guidelines well enough, go ahead and pursue a direction that you know will rake in good results for the company. Your coworkers may follow your natural leadership, and higher management will take note of your initiative.

On the other hand, you don’t want to undermine your direct boss. Always keep them in the loop and never go behind their back.

8. Don’t let it affect your performance at work

It sucks to have a boss that can’t manage their way out of a paper bag. But no matter how bad they are at being a boss, never let it affect your work. You should always stay on good terms with other leaders within the company and keep your job until you find a new one.

Don’t try to get back at your awful boss by working slower, taking a bunch of sick or personal days, or just not getting your work done. This will just throw you off schedule and provide your boss with the ammo to give you a bad reference in the future.

9. Don’t hold grudges

Yes, bad bosses suck, but holding a grudge won’t solve anything. Come to terms with the fact that your boss has authority over you and that you have to work to their standards. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to always get your way, and sometimes, you just have to get over it.

10. Avoid future bad bosses at all costs

When you interview with new companies, make sure to do your research ahead of time. Make sure that you’re not going to get stuck with a bad boss again.

Read employee and company reviews before going into the interview. If you’re interviewing with the person who would be your direct supervisor, ask them “what’s your management style?” when they ask you “Do you have any questions for me?”

Once you’ve dealt with a bad boss, you’ll never want to get stuck in the same situation again.

Now you know how to handle your big ol’ jerk of a boss!

Maybe your boss is a total jerk who takes their anger out on everyone in the office, or maybe this is your first job working for someone other than your dad and you have to actually do work, and now your boss won’t stop calling you a whiny baby.

Whatever the case may be, there are ways to deal with a difficult boss instead of just accepting your fate and being miserable.

Try to understand your boss’s motives and learn how to communicate with them, or maybe even just adjust your attitude, and dealing with your boss will surely get a whole lot easier!