How to manage tough bosses

guest column Emmanuel Zvada

You have heard it time and time again that most employees do not leave a company, but they leave a boss, especially the bad bosses.

Dealing with a difficult boss is no joke and staying in a toxic work environment everyday of your life is not worth it. Nothing is more destructive in the workplace than difficult bosses because they affect the way the employees behave. It’s actually an undeniable fact that every employee has had a series of bad bosses over their working career.

When you find yourself in a tough situation with your manager, remember that while you cannot control your boss, you can control how you react.

Most bosses are not as bad as some employees think they are. In fact, I would say that there are times when employees think the boss is the problem, when in reality, the boss may be trying to implement good changes while employees are trying to hold onto the status quo because they fear change.

However, there are some instances of really bad bosses. Bosses who cannot be “managed up”. These kind of bosses are described as toxic bosses and they act in a way that is hurtful to the employee or the employee’s career, mostly through manipulation, deceit, or some other abusive behaviour.

Difficult bosses are the most destructive factor in undermining an employee’s success. A bad boss can make a good job unbearable. These kinds of bosses normally exhibit a set of characteristics that make them dangerous to work with, whether it’s creating tension in the office with inappropriate comments and behaviour or their uncomfortable work habits.

If you are faced with an abusive manager, who is potentially damaging both to your health and career, careful manoeuvring may be required.

Most people do not understand that the boss-employee relationship is like any other; it needs to be fed and nurtured.

Many employees think that by just doing their best in the job, or by being a model employee, or by working harder and longer, the boss will recognise and appreciate them. Bad bosses or managers come in many shapes and form, with some being bullies, micro-managers, control freaks, fault finders, belittlers, credit-takers, you name it. But they all have a similar effect of making your worklife a burden.

What makes a bad boss bad?

If you want to manage your bad boss, it is also important to know what makes your boss bad. The reason is that what one person may consider as a bad boss, may not necessarily resonate
with that of a colleague, who might perceive the boss differently.

It is very important to note that many bosses fall into the bad-boss category because they fail to provide clear direction, regular feedback and recognition, which enables their employees to work.

Normally, bad bosses take credit for the successes and all the positive accomplishments of employees. They are also quick to blame employees when something goes wrong in order to cover up for their own mistakes.

What to do about your bad boss?

It is no fun going to work when you have to face the daily reality of working with a superior who is not on your side. If you feel harmed and you have decided it is time to do something
about your bad boss, then you should also take steps to avoid being the target.

Your first step, before soliciting help from your human resources department is to know your boss. Knowing him does not happen in a day, but with time, you have to know what triggers
him, his reaction, among other things, and try to do that which does not make him or her react negatively.

Below are other ways and means of managing a tough boss.

Be slow to anger

Anger is a natural human emotion. Your reaction to stressful situations at work might be to start shouting, or to go hide in a corner and feel sorry for yourself for a while. But at work, these types of behaviour could seriously harm your professional reputation, as well as your productivity. More so, thinking and analysing situations before you speak can help
in reducing anger at work.

To manage anger, maybe from the reaction of your boss, you have to take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. One way of being slow to anger as a way of
managing a bad boss is to focus instead on things you appreciate about the person or the situation that made you angry.

Identifying triggers of difficult behaviour

The workplace can be a stressful environment and may involve many situations that may trigger strong negative feelings. You should know that your manager’s bad behaviour does not just
come out of nowhere, but, indeed, it must have a trigger which, as an employee, you have to discover.

By identifying the triggers or an underlying difficulty and then removing the trigger or providing support, you will be in a position to handle your boss. Once you know what their
trigger is, you will know when to avoid contact with them.

Practice patience with your boss

Patience is a heavenly virtue and that’s undeniable. There may be problems you may encounter with your boss at work, and if you want to become an effective and efficient employee,
regardless of situations, you must exercise patience.

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