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What to Do When You Have a Bad Boss

daftandbarmy

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BLUF: Remember, it’s okay to quit. Your personal and professional future may depend on it.....

What to Do When You Have a Bad Boss

Despite the $15 billion companies spend annually on managerial and leadership development, bad bosses are common in the American workforce.  A study by Life Meets Work found that 56% of American workers claim their boss is mildly or highly toxic. A study by the American Psychological Association found that 75% of Americans say their “boss is the most stressful part of their workday.”

And a recent study by Gallup found that one in two employees have left a job “to get away from their manager at some point in their career.”

Surprisingly, though, another study found that employees end up working longer (two years, on average) for toxic bosses than nontoxic bosses. Why?

Quitting is hard

People stay in jobs with bosses they don’t like for a multitude of reasons. Some of the most common reasons I’ve heard during my 20 years of organizational consulting and coaching include:
• I don’t have the energy to look for a new job.
• I really like my job/colleagues/commute.
• I need the salary. I can’t afford to take a pay cut.
• There aren’t any other jobs that would be better.
• I don’t want to lose the benefits.
• I’ve invested too much to start over in a new organization.
• This job pays too well to leave.
• I don’t have the skills to get a different job.
• Things might get better.

Many of the above excuses come down to basic human psychological dynamics. People enduring high-stress situations often suffer from emotional exhaustion, robbing them of the energy needed to search for a new situation. It’s hard to quit without another opportunity lined up, and it’s hard to line up another opportunity when one feels depleted. Emotional exhaustion also strips people of
the ability to envision a more positive experience — and hopelessness ensues.

Loss aversion is another psychological process that makes it hard to give up something you have. We tend to strive to keep what we’ve worked hard to obtain. In the workplace this could be salary, status, stability, seniority, social connections, and all the other benefits we’ve accumulated over the years.

Additionally, research tells us that people stay in toxic situations when they are engaged in “high meaning” work. In other words, when people are emotionally attached and engaged in their job, they stay, even when they work for bosses who treat them poorly.
Last, we might also hope that a mean boss will change his or her ways, that the organization will take some action, and that things will improve.

Although staying put may seem more secure than leaving, it actually comes with many risks. A study of 3,122 Swedish male employees found that those who work for toxic bosses were 60% more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening cardiac condition. Other studies in American workplaces show that people with toxic bosses are more susceptible to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which increase the risk of a lowered immune system, colds, strokes, and even heart attacks. Some studies show that it may take up to 22 months to recover physically and emotionally from a toxic boss. While the idea of quitting may seem scary, the reality of staying in a job with a toxic boss can be even scarier.
How to manage

Bad bosses should be taken seriously. If quitting is not an immediate option, there are some practical things you can do to mitigate the potential damage of working for a toxic boss. While specific strategies depend on the kind of boss you have, e.g. bullies, narcissists, etc., there are some general approaches that can help you manage the situation.

Forget giving feedback. Make requests instead. It’s usually a good idea to try to talk to your boss and see what’s going on. But chances are a difficult boss may not be open to hearing feedback about his or her failings. So try making specific requests to get what you need. Be specific about the resources and support you need to do your job, explain your rationale, and articulate how this will benefit them and the organization. Think about timing, and try to have these conversations when your boss is calm and in an upbeat mood. Make sure to prepare, practice, and anticipate reactions.

Engage with your support network. A strong support network is critical when dealing with an emotionally challenging situation. Surround yourself with friends and people who support and encourage you. Have outlets outside work for socializing and reducing stress. Talk to a coach, therapist, or other trained professional.

Get plenty of exercise and sleep. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is essential. If feasible, take a temporary break from work. Find activities outside of work that bring you joy and satisfaction. Consider mindfulness and relaxation practices such as yoga and meditation. Practice positive self-talk by reminding yourself that you are not the problem. Remember, you can’t control how your boss behaves, but you can control how you respond to their behavior.

Explore other opportunities within your organization. There might be ways to escape your toxic boss without having to leave your company. Look into other positions in the company that interest you, meet with colleagues and managers in other departments, think about where your skills might translate, and make a case for your transition.

Consider consulting with HR. Research your HR department’s reputation in supporting employee complaints before you approach. Let them know about the issues you’re having with your boss and what you’ve done to try to rectify the situation. They may have already helped others in the exact same situation and could offer solutions you hadn’t thought of.
Know when to go

Of course, be ready to accept that quitting could be the best solution. There are some unequivocal signs that it’s time to move on to the next job. If you dread going to work every day, if you feel physically or mentally unsafe at work, if you spend more time thinking about your boss than your work, if stress from work permeates the rest of your life, if your self-esteem has plummeted, it’s time to go. You must give yourself permission to make a career change — to let go of hope that things will get better, and to overcome the fear of quitting.

Once you make the decision to quit, it’s important to do it as professionally and gracefully as possible. While it might be tempting to go out in a blaze of anger and curse words, this rarely works out well in the long run. Don’t burn bridges. Here are a few tips:
Line up your next move. There is no magic bullet here: you just need start the job search.

Give proper notice: The standard for most industries is two weeks. Giving more time is always an option but try not to give less if you can help it. Write a proper resignation letter and tell your supervisor — in person — that you are leaving. Don’t forget, letters of resignation often end up in employee files and might be used if your former boss is ever called for a reference. Make sure your letter is professional.

Create a transition timeline. Clearly articulate your plans for transition. Be clear about what you are going to do before you leave and stick to it. If you promise to finish projects, then finish them. Don’t bite off more that you can chew, but don’t leave things on the plate that you promised to take care of. Leave your boss and your team fully updated on the status of all your projects, etc.

Be prepared to go early. If your boss is truly toxic, he or she could dismiss you the minute you give notice. Make sure you have your personal belongings, contact information, important papers, commendations, etc. organized before you give notice. Be sure to return all company property promptly and properly. Get proper documentation stating that you’ve returned it. The last thing you want is someone claiming you’ve stolen anything.

Do not bad mouth. Resist the urge to bad mouth your boss during potential job interviews or even after you land a new job. Hiring managers don’t know you and they don’t know your boss — all they will see is a complaining malcontent.

Remember, it’s okay to quit. Your personal and professional future may depend on it.

https://hbr-org.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/hbr.org/amp/2018/09/what-to-do-when-you-have-a-bad-boss
 

Good2Golf

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Very interesting piece, DnB! 

One’s mental health often doesn’t figure as much into one’s calculus as all the other factors, but mental health and physical health are intertwined, and influence how long you’ll live. Well worth upping the weighting of the heathy mind factor when considering whether one should stay on with Mr./Ms. Evil Boss... :nod:
 

tomahawk6

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If you have a bad boss resist the urge to get drunk just persevere and wait til he is promoted or fired. I had a few of these but most proved to be outstanding leaders. I found solace in my work and sought to do the best job that I could.
 

mariomike

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Depends a bit on the job description, I suppose.

As long as when the tones went off you got off the couch, hit the garage door open button, and got the wheels rolling, wasn't much they could say.
 

Cloud Cover

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Colin Parkinson

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My predecessor at the hovercraft base punched the boss and shoved him head first into the garbage can as he was going out the door. Sadly the boss did not learn from the experience.
 

daftandbarmy

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Don’t do this, even though many of us have thought about it:



“According to the decision it was at that point, Roesler unholstered her RCMP-issued gun and pointed it at Hess, telling him to either “go away” or “f—k off.””
That. Is. Awesome.

Captain America Laughing GIF by mtv
 

Colin Parkinson

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I know a Fish Cop refused stress leave placed his gun on his supervisors desk pointed at him, they took the hint and gave him leave.
 

Eaglelord17

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Wow, great example of one standard for thee another for me. If a civilian was to point a gun at someone they would be facing charges of Pointing a firearm which carries 6 months plus a 5k fine to 5 years in prison, careless handling of a firearm another 6 months plus a 5k fine to 5 years in prison, possibly weapons for a dangerous purpose which is 6 months in jail plus a 5k fine to 10 years in prison, loss of firearms license (if they possessed one), maybe a aggravated assault charge (up to 14 years in prison) for good measure.

She doesn't even lose her job for her actions. Time to stop handling the criminals in the police force with kid gloves and actually punish the criminals in the ranks, they should know more than anyone the consequences for their actions.
 

daftandbarmy

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Wow, great example of one standard for thee another for me. If a civilian was to point a gun at someone they would be facing charges of Pointing a firearm which carries 6 months plus a 5k fine to 5 years in prison, careless handling of a firearm another 6 months plus a 5k fine to 5 years in prison, possibly weapons for a dangerous purpose which is 6 months in jail plus a 5k fine to 10 years in prison, loss of firearms license (if they possessed one), maybe a aggravated assault charge (up to 14 years in prison) for good measure.

She doesn't even lose her job for her actions. Time to stop handling the criminals in the police force with kid gloves and actually punish the criminals in the ranks, they should know more than anyone the consequences for their actions.
Kind of like the guy that was grinding her gears? :)
 

Eaglelord17

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Kind of like the guy that was grinding her gears? :)
He deserves punishment as well, but never in my life have I felt the need to draw a weapon on someone for being a annoyance. I have been at the point of fighting people when they have pushed me to the limit, but even in those cases when things that could be used as weapons are right at hand I have never considered it. Does it make sense for someone who has shown that poor judgement to keep serving, when again a civilian would be in jail?
 

lenaitch

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In 31 years, I worked for a grand total of two bad bosses; the type that were corrosive, a daily drip-drip that eroded your confidence and sense of value both within the organization and personally. In both cases, I drew some strength that others were feeling the same and it wasn't just me. For sure, I worked for several that were less than stellar in the managerial/leadership department but that is much easier to deal with.

Don’t do this, even though many of us have thought about it:



“According to the decision it was at that point, Roesler unholstered her RCMP-issued gun and pointed it at Hess, telling him to either “go away” or “f—k off.””

Wow. I wonder how the member reacts when taunted by a member of the public. In years gone by, my former employer would regularly use a transfer - where you have to pack up and move - as a management/disciplinary tool, but that hasn't happened in years. I can't recall if it there was a labour ruling on it or simply a matter of the haven't got the budget space to pay for it.
 

mariomike

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In years gone by, my former employer would regularly use a transfer - where you have to pack up and move - as a management/disciplinary tool, but that hasn't happened in years. I can't recall if it there was a labour ruling on it or simply a matter of the haven't got the budget space to pay for it.
For a province of 415,598 square miles ( looked it up ), that could be anywhere!

They used to threaten us with transfer to the Islands. But, that was like a year-round vacation.

Worst they could do was send you to Scarborough. :)
 

daftandbarmy

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He deserves punishment as well, but never in my life have I felt the need to draw a weapon on someone for being a annoyance. I have been at the point of fighting people when they have pushed me to the limit, but even in those cases when things that could be used as weapons are right at hand I have never considered it. Does it make sense for someone who has shown that poor judgement to keep serving, when again a civilian would be in jail?

I know a Fish Cop refused stress leave placed his gun on his supervisors desk pointed at him, they took the hint and gave him leave.
Dude, I'm looking forward to your podcast series... add the one about the garbage can thing too ;)
 

mariomike

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Watched "The Sergeant" last night. Talk about a difficult man to work for.

But, he was his own worst enemy.
 

lenaitch

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For a province of 415,598 square miles ( looked it up ), that could be anywhere!

They used to threaten us with transfer to the Islands. But, that was like a year-round vacation.

Worst they could do was send you to Scarborough. :)

Yup, I know many in my service peer group that were summarily transferred to a place named after a body of water or a furry woodland creature. Not for minor matters, it wasn't wielded lightly, but was part of the informal discipline system. Now that they can't do it, you just get charged (but at least you can mount a defence).

Yes, we used be amused by urban cops who complained of being sent to a division that was still a local phone call.
 

CBH99

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He deserves punishment as well, but never in my life have I felt the need to draw a weapon on someone for being a annoyance. I have been at the point of fighting people when they have pushed me to the limit, but even in those cases when things that could be used as weapons are right at hand I have never considered it. Does it make sense for someone who has shown that poor judgement to keep serving, when again a civilian would be in jail?
Your point about leading by example is quite valid. I totally agree with you - lead by example, and don't expect a double standard to save you.

Both officer's need a smack upside the head, and someone to tell them to grow the f**k up.


That being said, this seems like it was done more in the spirit of 'dark humour' between 2 officers who didn't get along. It was a poor judgement call, and she's paying the professional consequence of being transferred to a different detachment. (Which, I imagine on her file, will have some consequences down the road in regards to her career possibilities.)


On the one hand, it's simple. Lead by example. On the other hand, it can be tricky sometimes to make the distinction between a momentary lapse in judgement, or dark humour gone too far - and something warranting criminal charges. (I don't have the answer, as that distinction is usually entirely dependant on the personality / viewpoint of individuals, and obviously the situation.)

Her bosses & other members seem to know her well enough to know that criminal charges & jail time might be a bit too much in this case, as it seems like 2 officer's shenanigans got out of hand. If there was something more to it, I'd like to think it would be dealt with differently.
 

Cloud Cover

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Its the Okanagan Valley, that's a boat load of stress right there as a mitigating factor.
 

Eaglelord17

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Again simply pointing a firearm without just cause at someone is worth 6 months in jail for a civilian, yet a cop does it and doesn't even lose their job? It wasn't just dark humour, that might have been her defence but you could tell she was pissed and when he wouldn't leave her alone she snapped. Her bosses are protecting their own just like cops basically always do. I have seen enough cases of officers doing things completely illegal which a civilian would be in jail for, yet because they are cops they get next to nothing in the way of punishment and they carry on like nothing ever happened.

Momentary lapses in judgement with a firearm can get people killed. People wonder why the public is turning against the police, yet cases like this are a perfect example of the law applies to you not me. I have said it before, Canadas police agencies are basically old boys clubs. They generally go after the criminals but do nothing about the criminals in their own ranks.
 
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