Sometimes bosses are just bad – tyrannical, egotistical, incompetent or uncommunicative. The problem is that getting your boss removed is a difficult and arduous process, which means if you have a shocker of a boss then you need to either find a way to improve the situation or find another job.
Changing jobs is often stressful, can look bad on your resume and is downright inconvenient, so here are a few tips to try to improve things first. We’re going to start by treating a bad boss like we would a threatening foreign power and increase our response level appropriately.
DEFCON 1: Assess the threat and marshal your forces
The first thing to do with a bad boss is to figure out why they are acting in such a way. Are they difficult with everyone in the office or just you? Are they dissatisfied with your work or is there a personality clash? Are they simply ignorant and unskilled or are they getting their ego off at your expense? Start by trying to figure out if there is a simple adjustment you can make that will alter the situation.
The next step is to prepare yourself for any potential clashes down the track. Document your boss’s inappropriate behavior by recording what they say or do, and exactly when it happens. Look over the relevant employment laws as well as your company’s HR policies to determine if they are in breach of laws. Prepare your case so that you have a solid defense should you ever need to take action.
DEFCON 2: Strengthen your boundaries and assert yourself
Start by writing a list of what you believe your rights are and how you deserve to be treated as an employee. Determine exactly what you want and turn that into a series of requests rather of just a list of complaints. The next step is to go to your boss, inform them of your current unhappiness and have a civil discussion.
If your boss is well-intentioned but simply ignorant, they will likely listen to what you say and give you the opportunity to make your requests. Be polite and calm, listen to their side of the story, be prepared to take on legitimate feedback about yourself and finally negotiate an outcome where both parties are able to get what they need from one another.
DEFCON 3: A shot across the bow
But what happens if your boss reacts poorly to your requests, denies your complaints and tries to dismiss or intimidate you? The first step is to document the event while it is still fresh in your mind then draft a formal letter of complaint to your boss that specifies what you believe needs to happen next. This may include professional mediation or, if possible, a transfer to another department. Be sure to let your boss know that you want to avoid any unnecessary problems and if at all possible work out your differences, but don’t be afraid to let them know you are prepared to take further action should nothing improve.
DEFCON 4: Make your move
We all have the right to a safe workplace free from bullying and mistreatment. If nothing changes then it may be time to take the final step. However, you will need to prove that your boss is in the wrong and that you are simply trying to do your job. Facts, rational arguments and documented events (preferably with fellow employees as witnesses) will aid you in overcoming a challenging boss. Take your complaint to the HR department or your boss’s superior, but be prepared for the possibility of having your views challenged.
Everyone deserves the right to work under a boss who appreciates them and treats them with respect. If you are dealing with a challenging boss on a daily basis, be sure to take the appropriate steps to address any problems rather than letting it potentially ruin your career.Adam Blanch is a Melbourne-based consultant, speaker and writer specialising in the psychology of business and workplace diversity. He holds advanced degrees in psychology and has 20 years’ experience as a small-business operator. Adam would secretly like to be a famous opera singer, which can be a problem for those with whom he shares an office. For more information on career and recruitment advice visit Robert Half Recruitment Agencies Melbourne.