Often the only thing a group of colleagues have in common is that they share the same place of work. With a bunch of staff with diverse personalities, backgrounds, and ideas, it’s inevitable not everyone will get along together all the time.
When it comes to bad bosses, we’ve all been there; be they a domineering tyrant or indifferent slacker, they can come in all shapes and sizes. When you don’t like your boss for whatever reason it can be an endless source of frustration in the office or on siteAccording to a study by the Australian College of Applied Professions, Australians have plenty to grumble about regarding their superiors. Three in ten workers said they dislike their manager - equivalent to 3.4 million working Australians.
The main complaints? 39% of workers felt their managers lack emotional intelligence, with 34% saying they don’t communicate well, and 32% saying their bosses micromanage them.
With more places of work returning to the office after a long spell of working from home, employees are now back face-to-face with their bosses.
If you love your job but your boss is driving you crazy, undermining you or not carrying out their responsibilities properly, you’ll may feel disgruntled.
The good news is the way you handle a difficult boss can set you up for long-term career success. Follow our guide on navigating a tricky boss so you can love your work and come out on top.
Establish a clear picture of why you dislike them
So, your boss is grinding your gears, but can you put your finger on why? Perhaps it’s just a general day-to-day annoyance that you can tolerate? Or maybe it’s something more serious that is hindering your ability to sail through the day? The first step is understanding and getting a holistic picture of the situation so you can decide which paths to take.
Play detective and study their behaviour and consider things like; are they targeting you as an individual or is their attitude widespread across the workplace? Are they a punctuality-obsessed, overcritical micromanager or are they a lazy shirker that doesn’t own their responsibilities? Do they just have an annoying personality or are they breaching professional codes or guidelines?
When you have a clear assessment of the situation you will then be able to establish what your next course of action will be.
Do a spot of self-reflection
When considering your boss’ behaviour, if you felt you were singled out then it could be time to do a bit of self-reflection.
Go inward and explore if there is anything you could be doing that is triggering your boss. Is your performance on point? Do you have a positive attitude? Do you have a blanket mistrust or disliking of authority? Do you genuinely enjoy your job and not turn up and go through the motions? Are your habits getting on their nerves?
To get a balanced account of the situation it’s important to look at both sides. Be honest with yourself and take accountability. If there is room for improvement, then meet your boss’ needs and expectations and you may find your working relationship turns around for the better.
How to navigate boss archetypes with grace
Now you know what you’re up against and have done some self-reflection, you’ll have a clear picture on things. The next step will be choosing the right approach according to your boss’ ways.
If your boss is a poor communicator -
They never respond to emails or moan about lack of delivery in meetings despite never giving you clear instructions in the first place. Some bosses are pulled in so many directions they forget to communicate the way they should.
Although annoying, miscommunication doesn’t mean they’re out to get you. If you recognise that they’re bad at setting their expectations, then you need to go the extra mile to reach out them – over email or in person – to make sure you’re all on the same page. Ask questions and follow up for feedback.
If your boss is incompetent -
An inept boss is somewhat hard to pinpoint. They may lack leadership or inspiration, ignore team member’s useful ideas, be forgetful or have no direction or vision. Your overall feeling will be one of frustration.
As irritating as it may be, perhaps spare a thought for your boss whose failings may be the result of personal or professional situations. When the moment is right, you could step up and demonstrate your leadership and initiative skills. Ask colleagues for help or clarification if you’re not getting this from your superior and try to focus on your boss’ positives.
If your boss is a tyrant -
Excessively demanding, never satisfied, and prone to singling out victims for humiliation, a tyrannical boss is every employee’s worst nightmare. When your workday is spent walking on eggshells it’s likely your boss deserves to be pulled over hot coals for their lack of professional conduct.
Confronting them – even civilly – will likely be out of the question. Your best bet is to lie low and avoid conflict as much as possible. Keep your head down, focus, work hard and do your job well.
If your boss is a micromanager -
Micromanagement can feel irritating, deflating and overly critical. Micromanaging bosses have an increased need for control. Sometimes this will be their anxious, perfectionistic personality and other times it may be a product of the working environment which places that need on your boss.
Helping them to feel they are in control throughout the process will help your boss to feel at ease. Share small updates often, make sure your work is top notch and over time they will feel more and more confident to trust you to deliver.
Wait it out
With your strategy in place, wait it out for a timeframe of your choosing. Basically, how long will you be prepared to wait to see improvement before you need HR help?
Be professional, keep your head up high, be the bigger person and keep performing to the best of your ability. If you’re suffering mentally, take care of your wellbeing. Take a fitness or yoga class, talk to your family and friends, keep company morale up with post-work colleague beers and make sure you have a healthy work-life balance.
Seek HR Support
Although the fear of creating a backlash may feel real, don’t be deterred from speaking out to HR who are trained professionals when it comes to helping make the workplace more enjoyable.
Whether you just want to air your grievances or put in a formal complaint, the best you can do is communicate what your desired outcome is and back yourself up with the facts.
Ideally, you will be able to formulate a solution with HR that could help ease strains with your boss but they are trained who can help to resolve the issues in the best way possible.
If things do not improve, consider your options
If all your other efforts have failed, then as a last resort there may be no other option but to leave your position. Yes, tensions may be high, and the vibe is awkward, but do your best not to leave on a sour note.
Create an exit strategy that will allow you to leave respectfully without burning bridges with your colleagues or boss. Before you hand in your notice start exploring the job market to see what your options are. Update your CV and any professional websites or profiles like LinkedIn. If you need them, source colleagues who could endorse or recommend you.
If you can, call a meeting with your boss to tell them you are leaving in person, keeping the exchange civil and polite. Make yourself available to support any kind of handover or transition to support your incoming replacement if necessary.
Study your boss’ behaviour to draw up a clear picture of exactly why you hate them and what it is that is causing you difficulty.
Look inward to assess if there is anything you can do to meet your boss’ needs and expectations.
Take the appropriate course of action according to your boss’ behaviours.
Wait it out and take care of your own wellbeing.
Gather your case and approach HR if necessary.
Prepare an exit strategy for leaving your role in a respectful way should the situation not improve.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.