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Career: How To Deal With Nightmare Bosses
We've all had them, and we've got some tips for handling them.
Career 08 Feb 2022

Terrible bosses: we’ve all had them, and some of us have the creeping suspicion that we’re becoming them. So what should you do when your boss is making your working life a nightmare (which can be 40+ hours of the 120 you get in total to BE ALIVE IN between Monday and Friday)? We’ve got some tips.

Think: Are They a Bad Boss or is it One Bad Trait? Is it a Trait That I Need to Get Over?

It’s important to work out what it is about your boss that makes them such a pain in your backside. Is it a plethora of things that happen constantly? Or is it actually one small thing that happens to drive you nuts, but might not affect someone else the same way? It might simply be the fact that your boss has a terrible laugh that interrupts your meetings, and you might need to invest in noise-cancelling headphones for when you’re in Work Mode. Perhaps they’re actually a perfectly good boss but because they have a poor sense of time they are regularly late to the meetings you’ve meant to have with them, making you want to pull your hair out because you can’t stand being late yourself.

Anticipate Their Bad Traits

So maybe you’ve whittled down their flaws to two or three key things: they are regularly late, they micromanage you, and they don’t ever praise your good work. Stay one step ahead of it. Make sure that the 30 minutes after your scheduled meeting are kept clear, so you can continue your meeting then when your boss is inevitably tardy. Keep them in the loop as to every thing you’re doing in your day-to-day, and keep clear notes on what you’re doing and have finished – this way there won’t be anything for them to micromanage. And remember to celebrate your own achievements so you don’t need their validation.

Get Your Boundaries Straight

Find yourself staying well after closing hours in order to please a boss who you hate anyway? or coming in early? or doing all of the coffee runs for the office in an attempt to win them over to you? Stop. Set your boundaries: what hours are you contractually obliged to work in? Those are your working hours. What budget has the office given you for buying office snacks? Oh, none? Then don’t spend your own money on it. Don’t let your work worries spill into your non-work life. Remember, your non-work life is the really important part.

Get Communication in Writing and Repeat Their Words Back To Them

There’s nothing worse than talking to someone about your irritating boss and them not believing you. Get proof of any unacceptable behaviour, if not for HR, but for your own venting purposes to your friends. Having your communications in writing – via email or internal chat function – mean that you can also keep communication organised. Oh, your boss forgot that they told you to do that task in one way, and now they’re cross you didn’t do it another way? Show them their last email.

Collect Your Own Data On Your Successes

Rubbish bosses aren’t interested in raising you up and celebrating your achievements. Keep a digital journal of your successes – whether they are big or small – will be helpful for not only keeping your morale high, but also defending any demands for raises you might want to make in the future. Your boss might not sing your praises – but maybe your clients do, or other people in the team. Even keeping a “thank you!” email from a grateful client can keep you feeling like you’re doing a good job, even when your boss doesn’t seem to notice.

Keep Your Cool

Don’t flip out, no matter how tempting it may be. You are capable, deserving of respect, and on your way to a fulfilling and impressive career. The person who happens to be your boss right now has no effect on those truths. Stay above petty in-fighting and hold yourself with dignity. Find some mantras to repeat to yourself throughout the day when the going gets tough.

Remember That This Is a Paycheck

This job might be a step on the ladder towards your dream job, but at the end of the day – it is money in the bank. Don’t risk that money unnecessarily, but also don’t fall into the trap of believing that this job is YOU. Keep on grinding (and maybe applying for other jobs) to ensure that some loser boss doesn’t distract you from getting your £££.

HR: A Warning

If your company has an HR department, and your boss is making your work life unbearable, tell them. Even if there’s nothing they can do, it’s good to have someone else in the office aware of what you’re going through. If your boss is doing some serious misconduct, or you are finding yourself feeling actively unsafe, HR is a must-visit. However, be warned. HR departments – “Human Resources” – often see you as just that: a resource. If you suggest to your HR that you are looking at other jobs, or are feeling dejected in a way that is affecting your work, they might tell your nightmare boss that you’re a flight risk and not pulling your weight. It’s a difficult tightrope to walk.

Author: Verity Babbs

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