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Build Your Career Office Life

Terrible Boss? Here's What You Can Do

Terrible Boss? Here's What You Can Do
Credit: KieferPix/Shutterstock

Everyone gets frustrated at work sometimes. But in some cases, the person you're working for, not the job itself, is the source of your aggravation.

If you dislike your manager, it can ultimately cloud your judgment about your job and change how you used to feel about your workplace. Recent research from Gallup found that 56 percent of employees are displeased with their jobs. This dissatisfaction can stem from a lack of learning and advancement opportunities, low salary and/or bonuses, insufficient vacation or benefits, and poor company culture or morale, all of which can be attributed to bad bosses, according to WinterWyman Search, a talent acquisition firm.

Bad bosses come with a laundry list of problematic traits. The Society for Human Resource Management associates the following characteristics and actions with poor management skills:

  • Bullying
  • Micromanaging
  • Being a workaholic and expecting employees to be available 24/7
  • Being obsessed with numbers but providing no direction
  • Engaging in office politics

If your manager has shown some or all of the above characteristics, you might think it's time to start looking for a new gig. However, it may be more prudent to discuss the issue with your boss or HR manager first.

Mark Stagno, principal consultant and team leader of software technology at WinterWyman Search, offered his advice for calmly and professionally dealing with a frustrating boss. [See Related Story: Why You Should Confront Your Abusive Boss]

The first step is to speak with your boss.

"If you are feeling unhappy but believe there is potential with the company and your role, meet with your boss," Stagno said. "Express your points in a positive and productive way, offer solutions to some of the issues, and ask for ideas to improve things."

He noted that the conversations with some managers may not go well.

"They may take it personally, and that can make it difficult to have a productive, honest two-way discussion," he said. "Try to prepare your boss, in a nonthreatening way, in advance of the conversation, so he or she is not caught off guard and is more open to what you have to say."                                                        

Although your situation may not be your boss's current top priority, chances are, he or she will address it, Stagno said.

"That said, you should feel comfortable following up after a reasonable amount of time to see how your requests are progressing," he said.

As a recruiter, Stagno has spent a lot of his career discussing candidates' frustrations.

"A trusted recruiter, family member or former colleague is a safer confidant to become animated with, rather than your boss or someone at work," he said. "If you often raise concerns with your boss, you may earn the 'complainer' label. If you vent to co-workers, word travels and people talk — it may not be your best move."

Set aside some time away from the office to look at job descriptions, interesting companies and work opportunities, Stagno said. This can help you compare your current situation with potential opportunities in order to make an informed decision.

Talking about your frustrations in a productive fashion and keeping tabs on the progress over a given period of time may help you decide whether you want to stay or leave, Stagno said.

"Too often, people let it fester, wake up one day and take drastic action to complain or quit or launch a job search without having had some checks and balances along the way," he added.

People have bad days, but you don't want to make a career decision based on one.

Shannon Gausepohl
Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.