Bad bosses are inevitable. In the corporate world, a subordinate will probably have more bad bosses than good ones. But when does a bad boss become a horrible boss, and how should the situation be handled?
I’ve had great, good, bad, and horrible bosses, and in my time reporting to and working for various people, I’ve learned a few lessons about how to handle situations.
1. Know your worth.
Bad bosses are really good at undermining your talents, skills, and abilities. Some do it via passive aggressive means while others are more blunt. In some situations, it is okay to acknowledge your mistakes (as we all make them); however, no employee should ever allow a boss to make them second guess their worth. If you are at a point in which your boss is causing you to doubt yourself and your contribution, it’s time to start a job search or pack your notebooks and leave.
2. Sometimes the money isn’t worth it.
This is a tough hurdle to overcome, but you need to ask yourself, “is this worth it?” For some people, yes, it is; but for others, that question can be both terrifying and liberating. As a former corporate employee who was earning a good salary, I was terrified to put my benefits and pay behind me, but the money was not worth the toll on my mental health. If your job is affecting your mental and physical health, the money is not worth it.
3. Don’t be afraid to take the leap.
Leaving a stable job, even if you are dealing with a bad boss, is terrifying; but no one ever achieved greatness or success without taking a leap. We, as humans, are risk-avoidant, and sometimes, that works in our favor; but other times, it keeps us from doing what’s best for us. The digital nomad lifestyle is growing, and much of it is due to people leaving jobs in which they weren’t fulfilled. These people took the leap. So don’t let your fears stop you from taking a risk that could benefit you in the long term.
4. Evaluate why you are putting up with your bad boss.
Ask yourself why you’re willing to let yourself be treated poorly. Is it because of the money? Is it because you feel that this is how you earn your stripes? Are you starting to believe what your boss says to you? Be careful that you don’t fall into the trap your bad boss is trying to create for you. Falling into this trap can only lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and land you in a space your boss spent time cultivating.
5. Know when enough is enough.
Some bad bosses are manageable for certain periods of time, while others create environments that are untenable. Know when it’s time to stand up for yourself and say “this is not okay.” It is not an easy thing to do. You’re putting yourself out there, on a limb, but if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will? When you do finally speak out, be sure you’re prepared—have evidence, have a paper trail, because you will need that in order to show that you, in fact, are not what your bad boss tries to say you are.
There is a way to end the cycle of bad bosses—when you have one, notice what they do wrong and be sure to not repeat those behaviors. No one deserves a bad boss, and it is about time that the corporate industry understands what it takes to be a good boss.
Jene Wheeless is a communicator with a specialty in telling stories that dive into the who, the why, and the how. She has a background in brand/social impact communications with a focus in brand management and relationships – connecting brands to their consumers and audiences – media relations, client/agency engagement, storytelling, activations, and partnerships.