7 Solid Tips for Surviving a Horrible Boss.

| 5 min read
multiple bosses
Source: Corbis Images
Source: Corbis Images

In your entire career, you are bound to meet at least one bad boss or one who’s not so good for you. Horrible bosses are everywhere – from the boss who annoyingly micromanages your work to the boss who yells at you whenever he wants. More like a hobby. At some point, your positive attitude doesn’t make any difference. You know you love your job and you are pretty good at it but you are gradually breaking under the undue pressure and emotional torture your boss causes.

A safe getaway could be to wear your job-hunting shoes and start looking out for  a better place, but as it turns out, this is a job change mistake most people in this situation make.

Here are 7 ways to survive this nightmare and perhaps give you a chance to leave the job gracefully at a more appropriate time.

Your boss is horrible… or you are just as bad : Pick out the culprit. Not all bosses derive pleasure in making your life miserable, sometimes you are not just doing things right and it gets to him. Do a self-assessment of your work, ask for feedback from your co-workers, get suggestions on what your boss expects when he assigns a task. And do it critically. Perhaps an attitude problem, it could be anything really. Just figure out what you are not doing right. You just might be contributing to a bad situation.

Focus on the work: So you’ve done the first part, you realise you are not the only problem; start acting on the feedback you received. Do this with all focus on the reason why you were hired and the objectives you set for yourself. Chances are, when you start doing things right, your work will shine through and most likely reduce your boss’ rantings.

Don’t take it personally: Don’t be quick to tag yourself or your boss as the bad person. Your boss may have a leadership style different from what you expect from a typical boss. Sorry but you have to put up with him anyways. Suck it up and get the job done. In the end, that’s what matters. Yes, a little appreciation here and there could suffice but don’t wait till you hear it first from your boss. Appreciate yourself from time to time. Even if your boss is a “glory hugger”, you are gradually evolving on the job and soon you’ll be known for your expertise, either in your current job or elsewhere.

Pay attention to details: This is very VERY important. The rift between you and your boss might just be because you let so many things slip. Missing deadlines, forgetting to carry out task as instructed or just basically approaching your job nonchalantly. Understand this, your boss also answers to a boss and your complacency might just be a thorn in his flesh. It could just be that you are not giving your boss something he values. Time, accuracy or simply listening to him while he talks. Those subtle things have a way of setting Newton’s third law in motion.

Ask for a meeting: If you think you haven’t covered much ground in your findings; the best person to seek the right information from is none other but your boss. This saves you a lot stress and perhaps puts you in his good book quickly. There’s every likelihood your boss has no idea he is bad and you’ll keep hurting yourself if you think he’s having a good time making life difficult for you. Send in a note, ask for a convenient time to discuss with him. And when you get the opportunity; do not reel off a list of complaints and pain-points to him, show that you value his time and you appreciate his feedback. Listen attentively while he speaks, take notes to show you are willing to act on his advice. This way, everybody wins.

Don’t gripe at work: Yes, we all need to let off steam whenever we are pressed with issues we find difficult to handle. And your first pick might be a close colleague. Hold it right there. It’s OK to complain about your work but only if done outside the office – the premises and the people. Even bad bosses have friends and sidekicks. To be safe, tell a spouse or a friend elsewhere. It’s far better if your boss hears the complaints from you than from a third-party.

Stop comparing yourself to others: Dwelling on the assumption that your boss blacklisted you might compel you to measure your performance and competence against other coworkers your boss “likes”. Don’t tread that path, you’ll fall into the delusion that you can never be good at anything. Instead remind yourself many times of the things you are good at and most importantly the reason you were hired. Seek the counsel of senior colleagues to garner as much information as you can about yourself. Bear in mind that in the end, it still comes back to your desk – how much of the job you’ve done and how well you do it. Really, you are not doing so bad after all.

How else do you deal with a horrible boss?

Lola Olakeye


  1. I H?????a?????v?????e serious challenge about this boss of a thing. My boss is some1 that when some1 provokes her she takes the anger to the next person. Where I work every staff fears her like a masquirade. Whenever she enters the office,everyone would be out of sight. She yels @every staff @will.&most @times it affects me sychologically&emotionally. Take for instance what happened today. My school comprise of 3 Management staff which I am of them.decisions are taken by the 3 of us in agreement &then send feedback to our boss individuaally. Today, what happened was that since last week, we’v been having the need to put report card of d pupil into a file which I ask most of d teachers including d academic advisor so they told me that it’s the school that buys files every term to put d report card.so I went out to buy the files,my boss called me I told her that I am @the shop to buy files&she asked “who sent me”? So I mentioned d people that confirmed the purchasing of files by the school. After which this my boss said she is giving me query for not telling her .however,that the parents ought to return the previous one that ws given to them last term.please what is my offence that warrants giving me query?

    • Hi Lisa,
      i can imagine how you feel.
      i only challenge i see here ????§ a “communication gap” that you left open.
      Though your action might not warrant a query, your boss felt he/ she wasnot carried along.
      Even when you are allowed freedom to make decisions A?? execute same independently, you need to quickly run your decisions/actions by your boss to keep him on the same page with you.
      i hope this helps.

  2. This is soo appricarous, what do i mean, what i learnt here today i will apply it to the little i’ve been trying to do to make sure things went right with me and my Boss. Thank’s a lot jobberman.

  3. Wow I jst applied d step here dis afternoon and It woks big time and at d end it ws to my own favour coz Gm gave me audience afta I rang him frm my office to tell him dat I needed to talk to him 4 an important issue which he aceted & ask me to come over after which we got talking as soon as I was in his office.

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