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10 Tips on How to Deal With a Bad Boss

David has over 15 years of supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge of how to handle personnel issues across many areas.

A bad supervisor always seems like they are yelling through a megaphone.

A bad supervisor always seems like they are yelling through a megaphone.

Symptoms of a Bad Boss or Supervisor

These are some of the symptoms that can be found in a bad boss or supervisor in the workplace.

Berates Employees

Never Praises Employees

Never Does Any Work

Doesn't Handle Issues

Doesn't Understand Job

Harasses Employees

Plays Favorites

Makes Irrational Decisions

Doesn't Lead By Example


No Open Door Policy

Breaks Policy and/or Laws


Doesn't Trust Employees

Provides No Direction

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.

Signs of a Bad Manager and a Terrible Leader

10 Tips on Handling a Bad Boss

There are various ways to deal with a bad boss. Some you can do on your own, and some you may have to involve other people. Either way, you have options when dealing with a supervisor you don't like working under.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. However, talking about it with your supervisor may help.
  4. 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 to deal with a bad boss.
  5. 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.
  6. Take a leadership role. Start to lead the office. Help your co-workers, make decisions, and 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.
  7. 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. This may involve taking action as a group to deal with the situation.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 if it's an issue. Having a co-worker with you or having your co-workers do the same thing will help. You can also go to Human Resources, your union, etc., if you feel those are avenues you need to explore.
  10. 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, you spend a lot of time at work. It may be best to cut your losses and find another job.

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 very 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 chose 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.

How a Bad Boss Can Turn Into a Good Boss

Even supervisors who are considered to be okay could benefit from some tips to become better supervisors. I strongly recommend all supervisors read my other article if they wish to become good bosses or supervisors in the workplace.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 David Livermore


RTalloni on October 01, 2015:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this good practical advice. A good boss is a hero!

McKenna Meyers on October 01, 2015:

The worst boss I had owned the small business. She had a couple friends who worked there and treated them well. The rest of us were treated horribly. She never gave compliments. She made us work countless hours off the clock. There was no way to move up or get paid more. Worst of all, she was totally burned out. We cared more about her business than she did. I'm so glad I resigned. Great hub!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 01, 2015:

When I volunteered at a non-profit, a decade ago, my boss was odd like a duck. She wasn't pleasant or nice. The others I worked with were nicer. Great hub with thoughtful tips.

roselinsojan from India,Kerala. on October 01, 2015:

Dear friend please think that he may have some good qualities. Don't think everything in him is bad.he may have some issues with somebody else.Try to understand your boss.Every time he bark at you give him a smile.You can't get rid of him so be calm and hear him. You may one day become a boss.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on November 09, 2013:

For some reason, people expect offices to be places of exemplary behavior - which they could be if they weren't filled with people. Most of the same jerks you see everywhere work in offices. In democratic societies, people love to have bosses and keep electing them. And even in socialist cooperatives, there are still bosses. Of all of your great examples here, I think the micromanaging boss is the worst because that's the kind of person who kills creativity. Great article. Voted up!

Christopher P from Estonia on September 11, 2013:

Bad boss, everywhere!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 11, 2013:

I once worked for a bad boss often she verbally abused her employees but I didn't give her the chance of doing that to me, eventually I quit couldn't stand to see how she treated my colleagues.

Joe Sanchez from Phoenix, Arizona on September 08, 2013:

Companies that don't invest in their managers will pay the price of lawsuits and lost talent. It's not easy being a manager in a world obsessed with the bottom line.

That said good bosses do exist and love what they do and the people they serve.


Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 08, 2013:

Well-written hub and so accurate. It is so difficult when faced with having a sub-par boss. I can't believe yours tickled you!

Some places are definitely worse than others, but the bottom line is that if you feel uncomfortable at work, something needs to be done. You've provided perfect advice.

Michelle Orelup from Las Vegas, NV on September 07, 2013:

The worst boss I ever had was a micro-manager. He would have several different people all working on the same project, but individually - not as a team. He wasted our time, kept us late and on many occasion, the only way to leave - was to literally sneak out when he wasn't looking.

In the 2.5 years that I worked for him there was a 99% turnover of employees. That was a reflection of his poor leadership, and employees that grew tired of his game.