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How to Deal with a Bad Manager

Great workers don’t always make great managers. The Peter Principle is no less relevant today than it was when it was first coined more than fifty years ago. Bad managers will impact most workers at some point in their career. If you’re suffering under one right now, follow these steps to regain control of your job and life.

Quiet Quitting

Find yourself closing your laptop at five on the dot? You’re not alone. Quiet quitting put a name to the phenomenon of burnt-out workers rebelling against overzealous work expectations by working no more than their required hours and refusing to go above and beyond. Since entering the lexicon earlier this year, the term has spread like wildfire.

Quiet quitting goes beyond covid-19 fatigue and a rising labor market. The conventional wisdom that workers don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses is equally applicable to quiet quitting. Great bosses inspire and uplift their employees, helping them achieve their goals through understanding and empathy. In a terrible irony, bad bosses reduce productivity through their controlling actions.

How to Minimize the Impact of a Bad Manager

If you’re saddled with a bad manager, don’t despair. Here are some concrete steps you can take to minimize their impact and maintain your sanity.

  • Establish clear boundaries: One of the signs of a bad manager is that they blur the lines between work and home life. Project deadlines or extenuating circumstances, like tax season for accountants may result in longer hours, but there’s no excuse for your boss to be asking you to work late every night. Establishing clear boundaries near the start of a working relationship will save you some major headaches down the road.
  • Get everything in writing: Verbal communication opens up the possibility for benign miscommunication and malicious “forgetting.” Establishing a clear paper trail can nip he-said-she-said disagreements in the bud.
  • Be proactive: Seek out and identify problems before they turn into catastrophes. Not all bad managers act with ill intent. Your micromanaging boss may have had a bad past experience with a passive employee, or they may be freshly promoted and overzealous. Whatever the case, by taking initiative, you’re training your boss to treat you like the competent professional you are.

Next Steps

If your efforts to curtail your manager’s negative influence have fallen flat, it may be time to escalate the issue. HR has a vested interest in identifying bad manager traits and fostering positive relationships between managers and employees. A competent HR team understands the costs and inefficiencies caused by excessive turnover.

No job is worth the stress a bad manager brings. Before you start the job hunt in earnest, take a look at internal openings. A lateral transfer or promotion can take care of your managerial troubles without incurring the inconveniences that come with moving companies. If no suitable internal openings are available or if the problem goes beyond your boss to your company’s culture, start applying for new opportunities.

Bad management

Don’t let a bad manager hurt your career and health. Manage your manager by being proactive, establishing clear boundaries, and creating a paper trail. Still struggling? Escalate to HR for expert third-party assistance. Once you’ve exhausted that option, it’s time to apply for an internal reassignment or look for a new job.

Ready to take the next step? Pathrise provides a full-service suite of career enhancement services. Enhance your resume, optimize your portfolio, and receive cutting-edge technical and behavioral interview feedback. Work with a mentor to learn the fundamentals of valuable job-seeking skills like salary negotiation, cold-emailing, and reverse recruiting. Don’t let things get so bad that you’re plotting your boss’ murder like Nick, Dale and Kurt in “Horrible Bosses.” Quit your bad boss today with Pathrise.

Apply today.

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Alex MacPherson

Hi I'm Alex! Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, I have worked on the growth team for Pathrise helping job seekers hone their skills to land their dream role through curated content on interview prep, resume building and more.

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