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So You Hate Your Boss...

Let’s face it, some people are insufferable. And some people are just not your cup of tea. Regardless of the reason, many people find themselves in a difficult situation where they hate their boss and don’t know what to do about it.


Here are your 5 options:



1. Change Your Boss


This is the best case scenario. Obviously, you are right, so changing your boss is the version of the story where truth and goodness wins.


So how do you make that happen? Sadly, it’s probably not by telling your boss that you are right.


But it might still involve a conversation. Here are some ideas:


Highlight things you like about their management style

  • Example: Thanks so much for giving me a shoutout in our last team meeting. That type of recognition is very motivating to me.


Ask for the kind of communication or support you need

  • Example: I feel my work is much better when the project steps are super defined. Could we work together to clarify the next project before I begin working on it to ensure I know what you need?


Directly address issues as they happen

  • Example: Can we speak in private for a minute?...I know you were not pleased with my most recent project and I really appreciate your honest feedback. In the future, I’d prefer you give me it in our 1:1s vs. in the team meeting. It was very embarrassing to be called out in front of the team.


This type of communication is specific and respectful. It doesn’t attack the person, but tries to address the problems.


But let’s be honest, it might not work.


2. Change Yourself


You might want to put aside that you are right and focus on creating a good outcome-- namely, having a good working relationship with your manager.


If you cannot change them, is there a possibility of changing yourself?


Here are two tips for taking ownership of change.


Decide that you can create a good situation.

  • We often create a fake rule that this relationship is never going to be good and it unnecessarily prevents us from being open to the possibility. If you find yourself writing off good interactions, or creating conspiracies about compliments they give you, you might need to make this change. This isn’t a rosy glasses view of a situation. It’s just the version where you don’t already know the outcome and will it to be so. For this to work, you need to believe there is a chance at making this work.


Introduce empathy.

  • Try putting yourself in your boss’ shoes. Can you imagine what they might think and feel? What motivates them? What do they struggle with? Understanding your boss will give you patience with their lesser qualities and appreciation of what they do right.


With these items in mind, try approaching your situation differently.


3. Avoid Your Boss


While your boss can have a big influence on your work happiness, there is much more to your job than just your boss. It might be possible to minimize the interaction or exposure you have with them. This is a good option if you hate confrontation and there are other really positive things about your work.


Ways this could work:

  • Over communicate via email so they have less reason to stop by your desk

  • Schedule meetings directly after your 1:1 so they cannot run over

  • Volunteer to work on projects with other leaders in the organization

  • Work from home more often


4. Leave Your Position


If it still isn’t working, it’s probably time to leave. This could be as simple as transferring to a new department or team, or it might mean finding a new company to work at.


This is a pretty drastic outcome, and can require time and effort, but sometimes it is worth it.


5. Continue Being Miserable

Set a time limit on your misery. Commit to six months, and if it hasn’t improved, it’s time to move on.

The last choice (and it IS a choice) is to continue being miserable in your current situation. You might legitimately make this decision, especially in the short-term, because there is something else about your job that makes it worthwhile and none of the above feel feasible.


If you find yourself in this situation, I would really encourage you to revisit the above options to see if any of them are worth trying.


If that isn’t possible, then you should set a time limit on your misery. Commit to six months, and if it hasn’t improved, it’s time to move on.


Summary


Dealing with people can be tough, and dealing with a mean (or lazy or undermining or…) boss is particularly tough.


Lots of people complain about their situation, which can provide momentary relief, but you owe it to yourself to try to improve things.


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