Dealing with a Bad Boss

I do a lot of presentations to business and HR Professionals about how to use behavioral science to stop bullying. One of the questions I get at pretty much every conference session is how to deal with a bad boss.

The answer to that question depends. Is your bad boss a middle manager or – THE boss?

If they are a middle manager you would be doing your company a favor by trying to help them be less of a bad boss by letting management know of the problem and documenting what is going on as well as you can. It is not your job to fix the bad boss – it is upper management’s job to do that. To help them, you HAVE to have documentation of what is going on.

A documentation log includes What happened, when did it happen, who witnessed it, what exactly was said and so forth. If there is an email chain – make copies and attach them to your documentation log. It is a really good idea to follow up every conversation with a follow up email to ensure you understood their direction properly. The idea is to make sure you are being professional even if the bad boss isn’t. This will help upper management understand what the problem is and correct it. A lot of times bad bosses are bad because there are covering up their mistakes and blaming staff. All you can do is be professional and document and alert and try and encourage the boss to be more professional too – in a nice way. This is no guarantee you will succeed, but it will put you in the best position to do so.

If the bad boss is THE boss. Quit. Seriously – there is no external pressure you can put on them to change and any attempt to do so will fail.

If it is a middle manager and you want to learn how to stop harassment and retaliation in the workplace – consider viewing my program – How to End Harassment & Retaliation in the Workplace. It’s available as an online course, streaming video, or DVD: