With that being said, there’s a lot to be gained from the experience of working for a bad boss. It may seem counterintuitive, but working under a bad boss can actually have a positive effect by sharpening your own management skills and potentially preparing you to take on a managerial role in the future, if that’s your aspiration.
Besides the obvious ‘what not to do’, what else can we learn from a bad boss?
- Don’t take things personally
It’s easy to feel gutted when a boss provides a critique or passes a negative comment or judgement on your work or something you’ve done – especially when all you want to do is impress them. Try to be objective though – do they have a point? Take on the feedback that improves your performance, reframe and leave the rest.
The lesson here – If the comment adds value, adopt it – if it doesn’t, let it go.
- Temper tantrums are for playgrounds, not boardrooms.
Bosses who lose their cool create an environment of fear and uncertainty. Learning how to display grace under fire puts everyone at ease – it demonstrates your ability to navigate difficult situations and mitigate any further fall out. The boss you aspire to be digs deep, finds self-control to manage their behaviour and reassures those around them, that the situation is in hand – even if it’s far from it.
The lesson here – Gather your people, your facts and your thoughts before responding.
- Micromanaging wastes everyone’s time
We employ people to do a job – it’s a managers responsibility to guide the strategic direction, provide the required resources and then get out of the way and let the magic happen. Bosses who micromanage are often insecure about the position they hold, the control they have and they most likely have trust issues. The best bosses provide clear boundaries and expectations, they enable their staff and provide them with support and the guidance they need to deliver.
The lesson here – Give your team space to work hard and shine – it only makes you look good.
- Credit where credit’s due
Nothing drives us mad more than working on something for your boss, only to have your idea and work passed off as his or her own. Nothing demotivates a team more than working hard on a project only to see others take the credit. Good bosses ensure they acknowledge the work of the team and individuals – showcasing humility and demonstrating the great work that is done under their guidance.
The lesson here – Don’t be a glory hound – it’s lonely at the top if you’ve left everyone behind.
Unfortunately, bad bosses exist and you are bound to experience at least one in your working career. Learning to cope with a bad boss may be a matter of changing your perspective, changing your approach – or changing jobs.
Keep these four lessons in mind when coping with a bad boss, and you’re likely to make some good out of the situation. Learning what not to do can be just as important as learning what to do.
Watch what Managing Director for BUSY At Work, Paul Miles, has to say about bad bosses.