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Bad bosses can really suck the joy out of showing up for work each day.

They come in all shapes and forms — from lazy to controlling, condescending, incompetent, uninspiring, or just plain mean — and can leave you feeling burned out, fearful, undervalued, unfulfilled and with your eye on the door.

It’s widely known that people often don’t quit jobs — they quit bosses. But what if there was a way to successfully ‘manage’ your manager and all their shortcomings in a way that prevented their lousy leadership from clouding what might be an otherwise rewarding career?

Before you start scanning the job market and plotting your exit strategy, try considering our following tips and tricks for dealing with a difficult boss.

Give them the benefit of doubt

Consider the possibility that their management style may not necessarily be bad — it could just be different to the way you would like it to be, or would do it yourself

If your superior could indeed do better, perhaps there is a valid reason for their behaviour? Maybe they’re responding to their own pressures from the powers that be or their actions have been influenced by higher ranks.

Learn from their mistakes

This is a biggie. Every cloud can have a silver lining, so use this experience to improve or develop your own leadership skills and see it as a valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Whether you’re a leader now or might be in the future, examine your boss’s so-called ‘flaws’, consider how they affect you and decide how you can do it better with your team or in your own work

Just get on with the job

Don’t dwell on their faults, or let it impact your own performance. Forget trying to even the score, plot revenge or get caught up in negativity. Certainly don’t use it as an excuse to drop the ball. You’ll only end up behind with your workload and at risk of being laid off.

Instead, take the high road and use these tough circumstances as motivation to focus on your own success, continue to deliver great results, kick goals and climb the proverbial ladder.


Understand, accept and adapt to their styles

Try and identify your boss’s triggers and pet peeves. What stresses them out or puts them on the warpath? What are his preferences?

Knowing what drives your boss will help you to better cope with their behaviour. Work with their preferences, instead of against them. And if you can stay one step ahead and anticipate where your boss is likely to come down hard on you — albeit irrationally — it will be easier to mitigate any hostility or thwart micromanagement.

Help them succeed

If your boss has a tendency to be disorganised, tardy or forgetful, try to help them out — without, of course, neglecting your own responsibilities or compromising your own outputs. You see, helping your boss to work and lead better will only serve to enable your own success.

Show them love (in the most professional way possible)

There’s no doubting the thought of wrapping someone reminiscent of a schoolyard bully, patronising aunt or drill sergeant in a big bear hug makes you shudder.

Luckily, we’re instead suggesting you simply treat them how you would like to be treated.

You may just find that if you love ‘em up enough you’ll break down some walls, establish new levels of trust and drastically improve collaboration and output.

Speak up

Don’t suffer in silence. Have the courage to speak up, address your concerns and engage in a mature conversation about how things could improve.  Your boss may be more open to constructive feedback than you realise.

This is also an opportunity for you to express your genuine desire to make your workplace better.

Keep your cool

If you’re dealing with a volatile personality in a leadership position, it’s important to be strong — and smart.

If you find yourself locking horns over an issue or feel compelled to call your manager out on their behaviour, be dignified in your approach. Work to defuse any tension instead of stoking the fire.

Aim to hash it out in privacy and keep your anger or frustration in check.  Calmly explain your issue, communicate how you feel, reveal how it is impacting you professionally and personally and try to suggest a solution. Always, always maintain a professional demeanour.

In turn, give your boss the chance to feel heard and share their side of the story.

Keep a paper trail

If your boss is let’s say, a little ‘flighty’ or contradictory when it comes to their direction, keep them accountable.

Always have them reconfirm their verbal requests, responses or via email. Also keep a record of all significant interactions with your boss. These will be useful if anything from your performance to your word is ever questioned or attacked.

Do you have a difficult boss? What are some of the strategies you use to deal with them? Share with us in the comments below!

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