How to Deal With a Bad Boss or Supervisor in the Workplace
Dangers of a Bad Boss
A bad boss is like a bad rash. It never goes away, is an annoyance, and puts a blemish on an entire organization. The dangers of a bad boss are obvious. They can bring down morale in the workplace, drive employees off, and even cost an organization money.
Unfortunately you can't always get away from a bad boss. In a lot of cases you feel like you have to endure it because you need the job, feel like you have no options, etc. You always have options when dealing with a bad boss.
Symptoms of a Bad Boss or Supervisor
Never Praises Employees
Never Does Any Work
Doesn't Handle Issues
Doesn't Understand Job
Makes Irrational Decisions
Doesn't Lead By Example
No Open Door Policy
Breaks Policy and/or Laws
Doesn't Trust Employees
Provides No Direction
Ever Had a Bad Boss or Supervisor?
Have you ever worked with a bad boss or supervisor?
How to Deal With a Bad Boss or Supervisor in the Workplace
There are various ways to deal with a bad boss. Some you can do on your own, some you may have to involve other people. Either way, you have options when dealing with a supervisor you don't like working under.
- Understand that supervisors are people too. I don't want to defend a bad boss, but they are people too, with their own problems and issues. Sometimes those issues get to them and it seeps into their work. So hope that it blows over once they resolve their personal issues.
- Realize that supervisors sometimes have to act the way they do. If they come down on you about a minor issue, or get on the entire office about something that should have been done, etc., realize that this is just a supervisor being a supervisor. If they get heat from their boss, then they have to place the same heat on you. This isn't necessarily the sign of a bad boss.
- Know that it could be a personality conflict. Supervisors are supposed to get along with their employees, but sometimes personalities collide. I had this happen between myself and one of my employees. It's not that they are a bad boss, but that their personality conflicts with your own. This can be difficult to resolve.
- Don't ignore the issue. It can be difficult to stand up to your boss, especially one that is a bad supervisor who may not be receptive to what anyone has to say. You shouldn't assume that someone else will take care of it. You should take action on dealing with a bad boss.
- Confront them about it. I've had to do this with a bad supervisor. Maybe they aren't aware they are doing something wrong, and need someone to tell them that they are. Once they are told and realize it's an issue, they will hopefully take the proper steps to resolve the problem.
- Take a leadership role. Start to lead the office. Help your co-workers, make decisions, show what a good supervisor is supposed to be. Your current boss may notice it and step up to the role they were hired for, or, you could be lucky enough to take the job from them at one point.
- Get your co-workers involved. More than likely your co-workers also think your boss isn't doing a great job. So talk to them about it, without gossiping, and see how you can resolve the issue as a group.
- Document their actions. It may come to the point where you have to document what your supervisor is doing. Document major incidents that you feel are not becoming of a supervisor. Keep in mind these incidents will be scrutinized, so be as detailed and factual as possible.
- Talk to their boss. You may have to eventually go above your boss and talk to their boss. If you are keeping documentation, present that and advise it's an issue. Having a co-worker with you or having your co-workers do the same thing will help.
- Find another job. If your boss is so bad you can't stand working with them anymore, then it's time to find another job. While it may not seem fair, if you spent a lot of time at work, it would be best to find another job for your own sanity.
Good Boss, Bad Boss
How a Bad Boss or Supervisor Can Turn Into a Good Boss or Supervisor
Even supervisors who are considered to be okay could benefit from some tips to become a better supervisor. I have written an article on this subject:
I strongly recommend all supervisors read this article if they wish to become a good boss or supervisor in the workplace.
My Experiences of Dealing With a Bad Supervisor
I've had okay and good supervisors in my various types of employment. However, I had one supervisor who I considered to be a bad supervisor. All of these experiences came from just one supervisor for the few short years I worked with her. When I became a supervisor, I took what I learned from how she acted and did the opposite. Below are a few of my experiences.
- My boss tackled me to the ground and tickled me. I was in my early 20's and she was at least 20-30 years older than me. We were joking around one day, then suddenly she tackled me to the ground, laid on top of me, and tickled me. I laughed during, and soon forgot about it. However, I knew every little of the policies and laws set forth regarding issues like this. At the time I could have filed a complaint for sexual harassment. While it was not sexually related, it was completely inappropriate, which I ensure I never do as a supervisor.
- My supervisor called and chewed me out at home. While I am sure a lot of people have experienced that, it is not considered to be a good trait of a supervisor. She told me something considered to be confidential. But I went and asked another supervisor, who was on the same level as my boss in the same office, about it. She knew nothing, so I didn't think about it. My boss called and chewed me out over my days off, viciously. I did complain, and fortunately she was advised she shouldn't have done that.
- My boss was having an affair with someone else in our department, neglecting her work. Our office was pretty much on our own when she was interacting with the person she was having an affair with. If we called her to ask for assistance, she acted like she didn't want to be bothered. Her office door was always shut. I eventually confronted her about it, and she felt very offended by it. However, an affair is no reason to ignore your staff.
- My supervisor ignored signs of an office in trouble. I was working another shift to help out for a time. However, I was due to go back to the shift this boss was supervising. I was apprehensive about that since her shift had issues with staff being lazy and not getting any work done. Oddly enough, I worked overtime on that shift a few days before I was supposed to go back. Sure enough, those issues were still around. It bothered me so much I choose to stay on the shift I was on, despite wanting the better hours.
- My boss failed to recognize she was a bad supervisor. Despite the signs being there, the things people said, and everything else, she failed to realize she was a poor boss. One day she was gone, and we were told she wasn't coming back. We never knew why and no one ever told us. Our office did improve once she was gone, since the other supervisor provided more stability.