How Bad IS your Boss?

Throughout our careers, we’ll work with many bosses. Some good; some great; and some really bad bosses. By bad, I’m not talking about bosses with unethical or immoral bosses – please report these.               

Most bosses are regular folks whose skills, experience, and accountability don’t meet what’s needed for our success. In Managing Up by Mary Abbajay, the reality in which most people find themselves is summed up nicely:  

“You have to work with the boss you have – not the boss you want.”

Having coached and worked with many senior leaders – only a few have had the luxury of great bosses. It’s the norm that our bosses will be bad some of the time and to varying degrees.  Managing oneself in response to their unskilled and unthoughtful behaviors takes awareness, intention, and practice.

What can you do to make the best of working with a bad boss? 

  1. First –identify the bad behaviors they do.
  2. Second – create an objective plan of counteracting behaviors that helps you manage your responses.  

Bad boss behaviors generally show up to varying degrees in these areas:

  • Poor communication      
  • Micromanaging AND having unrealistic expectations
  • Being Indecisive AND having inconsistent decisions    
  • Giving unfair rewards AND discipline
  • Passing undue blame AND taking undeserved credit
  • Playing favorites AND holding grudges 

Once you’ve got an objective response plan, envision those bad boss ‘situations’ and practice your preferred response. Review – Reflect – Re-try

Good leaders I’ve coached have shared that some of their greatest lessons and qualities came from working with a bad boss. I’ve summarized a few of the strategies that helped them create the most good from the bad boss behaviors:  

  1. Be objective. Observe and detach the person from their bad behaviors. Their behaviors are not about you. Be responsible for your response.
  2. Be Respectful Always. Watch tone and words in virtual meetings, chats, emails, and texts.
  3. Stay Curious. Look for possibilities that stretch your skills and exposure. Keep growing – this situation won’t last forever.
  4. Refuel and Reconnect. Exercise, sleep, and enjoy those you love.
  5. Advocate for Yourself. Keep your media profile and network current.

Remember – good things CAN result from a bad boss– if you manage YOURSELF wisely. 

Enjoy and share in your networks this short video How Bad Is Your Boss, created by Houston Public Media as part of their 2022 Career Frontier series.  

Kim Moore is an executive coach that can help you transform the results of your bad boss experience. Ready to explore coaching?  Let’s schedule a conversation.

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