7 Ways to Handle a Difficult Boss At Work

Learn key strategies to effectively manage a difficult boss and preserve your job satisfaction with our concise 7 Ways to Handle a Difficult Boss guide.

Navigating a challenging boss is an inevitable part of professional growth. At some point in your career, you may encounter a difficult supervisor, perhaps due to discriminatory attitudes or simply harsh behaviour. Such experiences can diminish your self-esteem and enthusiasm for your job, making you eager to escape to seemingly greener pastures. However, constantly changing jobs isn’t a sustainable solution—you might end up with an even more problematic boss elsewhere. Instead, the only viable option is to develop strategies to manage this challenge effectively.

…And here are 7 ways you can deal with a difficult boss and be happy:

1. Analyse yourself first.

Does your boss always complain about you because you arrive late to work every day or turn in your reports late every time? Or perhaps you have been backstabbing him, and he has a whiff of it. Judge your attitude to your work (and to your boss), and if you find yourself guilty (you cannot lie to yourself), then you need to do one thing—change your attitude.

2. Re-position your thinking.

Since you cannot change your boss, you must modify how and what you think of him. Acknowledge the fact that you have a boss who does things you cannot control and try never to respond in kind to his insults because that makes you exactly like him. So, adjust the way you think and view situations from a positive angle.

3. Keep track of your accomplishments.

Record all you have achieved and the praises you have received from other bosses and colleagues in the office. Be detailed when you write them down – reflect what you achieved, its significance, consequences averted, etc. and how they have contributed to the progress of the Organisation. This is what will speak for you when you are called upon to defend yourself (if the case arises).

4. Find a mentor within the Company.

Develop a mentoring relationship with another boss in your office. Even if you have a good boss, having a mentor (at a managerial level) is advisable because, besides offering good advice and recommending you for promotion, he can always stand and speak on your behalf at board meetings, especially when your boss is part of the Management.

5. Employ humour.

Humour has the capacity to make unpleasant situations look good. It makes us deal with emotional turmoil and provides an escape route from depression. When at work, use humour to make light those ‘bad’ moments, and you will scale through the day. However, be careful not to make expensive jokes that will make fun of your boss. If you are not good at making humour, it is better to keep quiet than to make the situation worse.

6. Report your boss.

You must resort to this tip if you have employed other means and they have not worked. This is important, especially when harassment is involved. But be sure you have a mentor or trusted colleague to back you up, or you will be termed ‘the office troublemaker. ‘ If your boss has the highest authority, then you may have to start looking for somewhere else to work.

7. Learn from experience.

Every experience counts. The previous one was horrible because you were not prepared for it. Now, you understand your boss better. You know what he likes and hates. Now, you understand he likes meeting deadlines and appreciates punctuality. Now, you have learnt. At the next encounter, you will be better prepared.

Have you experienced an enemy boss at your workplace? How did you handle the situation?

Nathan Jeffery
Notification Bell