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So you hate your boss. What should you do?

Last Updated: 12.04.22

by Alan

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Is your boss causing or contributing to your workplace stress? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent (2021) Gallup study: “State of the Global Workplace”, half or more of all employees in Europe, the United States, Asia, the Middle East and Africa have quit jobs at some point in their careers in order to get away from their bosses.

What are the ‘bad’ bosses doing to cause such annoyance? The most commonly cited grievances include micromanaging, bullying, avoiding conflict, ducking decisions, stealing credit, shifting blame, hoarding information, failing to listen, setting a poor example, slacking and not developing staff. It sounds like quite a litany of ineptitude. But while there are plenty of bad bosses out there, the good news is that there are also plenty of first-class managers who serve as important role models and mentors for their staff. So it might be time for you to leave in order to find one. On the other hand, perhaps you should take a deep breath and consider how you might create some positive change in the workplace you’re already in. Relationships can often be improved and you owe it to yourself to attempt remedial action before you make the decision to move on.

So, if you have a toxic relationship with your boss, here are five steps that will help you address the situation and figure out what to do next:

1.     Examine why you dislike your boss

Take the time to analyse where the antipathy towards your boss comes from. Do you find their personality irritating? Do they make unreasonable demands on your skills and time? Do they put you down, or take all the credit for the work you’ve done? Take some time to evaluate the behaviours that are causing you distress and try to decide if they can discussed and worked on, or if the overall situation is intolerable.  It’s important to document every incident, so take notes and save relevant emails, voicemails, and texts. These will be very important if you decide to escalate the issue to HR.

2.     What’s your role in the situation?

It’s a good idea to look inward and see how you might be contributing to or enabling the problem. Try to be rigorously honest with yourself. You might find, for example, that your apparent unhappiness with your boss stems from that fact that you are unhappy with your whole career and the choices you have made. Here’s a suggestion to remove the subjectivity and your own innate bias from this process. Sign up for the free science-based PeopleHawk Personality Test. It will only take about 10 minutes. You can then download your own insightful six-page Personality Guide, which gives an impartial assessment of personality traits. You can use these insights to weight up how well you fit into your current work environment and to guide your thinking on your future career path.

3.     Try talking to your boss

This one may seem patently obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people never actually try sitting down to discuss their issue. Having completed steps 1 and 2 above, find a time to have a calm, relaxed conversation with your boss to express your feelings, and perhaps raise questions over behaviours or incidents that upset you. You may discover that your boss didn’t realise how their actions were affecting you. Having an informal but structured (i.e. well prepared) chat with your manager can help to resolve issues in a mature way, if handled in the right tone and manner.

4.     Give it time

Once you’ve had the hard conversation, take a step back and watch to see if the situation changes. If your self-examination and/or the discussion with your boss identified areas that you need to work on, make sure you address these to the best of your ability. Don’t be too quick to write your boss off unless the pattern of negative behaviour continues over time.

5.     Make a decision

Giving someone time doesn’t mean waiting forever. At the end of the day, this is your life, so make the choice to stay or go. If you’re caught in an abusive situation with your boss, go ahead and report it to HR. Or if you’ve done everything you can to talk through the situation and still nothing changes, then it’s probably time to leave – life’s too short to be miserable at work.

Use PeopleHawk to fast track the next stage of your career. Create a striking Infographic Resume / Visual CV that highlights the results of your Personality Test and showcases your personality, work styles and potential. Then record your very own video elevator pitch to make a stunning first impression with the manager you deserve.

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