Leadership Resources

Leadership Resources from the Carlson Executive MBA Program

How to Deal With Your Current Situation With a Bad Boss

Most fail to realize that you have the power to improve a bad situation. Short of leaving, here are some things to consider when attempting to improve the situation. Practice Empathy – Consider the external pressures your manager is under and how it might be impacting their behavior/actions. Practicing empathy can be a game changer; empathizing with your boss and chances are she/he will reciprocate.  Is It You? – be introspective, is there some reason you might have a negative opinion of your boss? Ask for colleagues and mentors for constructive feedback on performance. Ask for a one on one meeting to seek advice or even mentoring from your boss. Keep the conversation positive and focused on how you can help improve the team and assist the boss in meeting their requirements. Find out what motivates your boss and make sure your actions are aligned. If your boss stonewalls or rebuffs you, that’s a clue that the problem may not be you.  Have A Frank Discussion – have a private conversation in a neutral, safe location, and make sure the timing is appropriate. Be well prepared and give them a heads up that it might be a difficult conversation. Focusing on specific events, or projects can also help guide the conversation. Be prepared to listen, but be ready to stand your ground if they become abusive.  Make A Report To HR – You need to have data, details and witnesses. A formal report should be a last resort and it is best to have a strong case. HR will most likely give the benefit of the doubt to your boss.  Based on my personal experience with several bad bosses this provides an effective playbook to address a stressful boss-subordinate relationship with graduated levels of risk and tips to mitigate that risk.  I am unaware of the HR reporting process so I found those recommendations very interesting, including the possibility of threatening a lawsuit.