Daily Mail: Do you have a nightmare boss? - Michelle Gibbings

I recently shared some tips on what to do if you have a nightmare boss, you can read them in this articlethat originally appeared on The Daily Mailwebsite.

But unlike Andy Sachs, who in the feature film just decides to up and quit her job to stop the unfair behaviour, that’s not always an option.

Sometimes though, the decision is made for you.

Take Tara* for example, who told FEMAIL she was unfairly dismissed as the receptionist and social media coordinator at a doctor’s surgery because of the antics of her boss.

‘It ended up being a race issue. He was a doctor and couldn’t handle a younger, white, blonde girl telling him or the practice when he was doing something wrong,’ she said.

‘For example he was regularly late to start work which is not ideal when you’ve got patients waiting. After letting it slide once or twice I then started to advise the other owner what time he was arriving to work. I would then be in trouble for doing this.

‘I just stuck to my guns and did what I thought was right which is ultimately why I got fired, because I wouldn’t allow him to be a bully,’ she admitted.

'It ended up being a race issue. He was a doctor and couldn't handle a younger, white, blonde girl telling him or the practice when he was doing something wrong,' she said

My boss is a terror: What can I do?

Understand the driver

Seek to understand what’s driving their behaviour, and whether this behaviour is consistent out of character.

There’s a difference between a boss who is a good person, but in a stressful situation and not coping very well, and a boss who thrives on power, is a narcissist and/or a bully.

Once you understand what’s driving the behaviour you can then work out the best approach to take.

For example, if they are stressed due to work pressures find out if there are ways you can help them with their workload. This is a great opportunity to build a good relationship with your boss as they will see you as a person who helps them in times of need.

It can also help to talk to them about the impact their behaviour is having on you. This is a conversation that needs to be managed carefully.

Think long term

On the other hand, if the person is a narcissist and they constantly display bad behaviour then you aren’t likely to change them.

In this situation, think about the benefits you are gaining from the job (in terms of experience etc) and determine if it is worth sticking it out for a bit longer.

That said, you need to set a timeframe in which to move on, as prolonged time in an unhealthy working environment isn’t good for a person’s confidence and well-being.

Build your support crew

You want to have people around – both inside and outside the organisation – who will support and advocate for you.

This will help set you up for your next job (which may be inside or outside the organisation), and help ensure you maintain a strong and healthy sense of self.

Look after yourself

This is threefold:

  • Know your rights – so if their behaviour is illegal (ie bullying/harassment) then seek advice on your next steps and counsel from people you trust
  • Know when to exit – if their behaviour is impacting your health and well-being then build your exit strategy
  • Manage the impact – put in place daily practices, such as exercise, meditation and reflection to manage your well-being

Source: Career expert Michelle Gibbings 

Emily* was also forced to endure two jobs that left her less than impressed with management.

‘I was employed at a job that was commission-based and I was given advancements that barely made a weeks pay. Later I found out I had to pay the company the advancements back, which totalled $800, and I had to pay for all my phone calls while being a receptionist,’ she said.

‘I also worked for a nightclub as a bartender and was told I was not allowed to post on my social media while at other venues and that venue ‘owned’ me – therefore owning my Instagram as well.’

Career coach Fiona Wainrit told Daily Mail Australia there are steps you can take to deal with overbearing bosses such as these.

1. Beat them to the chase

If they micro-manage or distrust you, why not get them off your back by sending them weekly updates, or work plans. Not only will this show you are on top of things, it is also an opportunity to ensure you’re on the same page regarding priorities.

Likewise, be proactive by discussing new ideas regarding process improvements and anticipate any risks before they occur so you can be strategic rather than reactive. Perhaps initiate a meeting to discuss one of these issues. This will send a different message that you are committed and focused. If you’re lucky, he or she may even move onto someone else to antagonise.

If they micro-manage or distrust you, why not get them off your back by sending them weekly updates, or work plans

2. Condition expectations 

This is such a simple one that can easily be forgotten. If you are over-loaded with work, it is normal to complain to yourself or others. Next time your boss hands out an extra task to add to your already hectic workload, why not quickly come back with a realistic timeframe, so they know when to expect it? This presents another chance to explain what you are working on and ensure it’s in line with their priorities, whilst also conditioning expectations around delivery.

3. Speak their language

Don’t suck up! Trying too hard to impress or win over a difficult boss may not be the answer and will come across as insincere. You will also lose respect from your peers. You don’t need to be best mates with your boss. Think about your boss’s motivators and respond accordingly. For example, if your boss is dollar driven, then use numbers and monetary amounts when discussing results and outcomes. If they are emotionally driven, tap into their feelings about a particular project or task.

Try to find the good in them, even if you need to dig deep. It may be something non work-related, like how they are with their family. Once we humanize people we don’t like, it’s easier to see their positive traits. Remember, it is possible they are also experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Maybe like you, they are unhappy with how they are handling this situation.

4. ‘Don’t worry, be happy’

Easier said then done, however the more you allow it to get to you, the worse it is. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you choose to respond.. Carry out small actions to snap you out of your funk. Take a short walk outside, lunch with friends/ workmates, have photos on your desk of loved ones so you can quickly go to your ‘happy place’ when necessary.

5. Make up or break up

If you’ve exhausted all options and it becomes unbearable, then it may be time to start exploring other opportunities. Before you look externally, if you still like the company and it’s just your boss you have the problem with, consider taking a side-step into a different team or department, so you don’t need to report directly to him or her.

Otherwise if you decide to go external, ensure you do not bag your boss during the interview. Instead, focus on why you’d like to work for that particular company and what you can bring to the table.

* Names have been changed.