I’ve been working as an eye specialist in community practice for six months. My immediate boss is making my life very difficult. Nothing I do seems good enough. He speaks badly of me in front of other staff, disrespects me, and criticises my timekeeping and the clothes I wear even though I am always on time, keep to my testing schedule, and am smartly dressed. Do you have any advice?
When your boss makes a job — and life — difficult, people dread coming to work every day. A bad boss is one of the top factors driving employees to quit their job. Good employees leave bad managers but quitting isn’t always the right solution — or even an option.
Try to improve the relationship with your manager and overcome those “bad boss” woes.
Bad bosses give vague instructions or refuse to offer much guidance on what they expect you to do. Ask questions to clarify what you’re expected to do and the exact goals you need to accomplish. If any of your boss’s instructions aren’t clear, keep following up with additional questions until you understand. Write these down at a meeting with your boss and then send an email to your boss asking for confirmation that you have understood what is expected of you. Set a date for regular meetings to make sure you’re on track. This can be difficult as you may receive further negativity at these meetings.
A problem-solving mindset can be one of the most effective ways to help you figure out how to deal with a difficult boss. When a problem comes up, go to your boss with a list of possible solutions. Approach your boss with an action plan in an effort to make their job easier.
Not all difficult bosses are aware of the problems they’re causing. You may want to consider confronting your difficult boss. Put forward solutions on how to create a good working environment. Or explain what you need from your boss and ask for clarification on what your boss needs from you. Use language like ‘when you do xxx, it affects my work/motivation/performance in this way.’ Approach this with an open mind and a willingness to work to solve the problem.
Perhaps your boss doesn’t like to be approached in the morning. Perhaps they prefer at answering questions over email than face-to-face. Observe these traits and adapt to meet them. If your boss likes to micromanage, offer frequent updates.
Maybe your boss is taking out their frustrations about their own boss on you. Or perhaps your boss is dealing with personal problems. Perhaps your boss isn’t out to get you.
Let your boss know privately about the instances that have made you feel disrespected. Clearly document the conversation and the steps you have taken to resolve the problem. If the behaviour doesn’t change, your next step is to contact your boss’ boss. If there isn’t one and it is probably best to consider finding a position in another practice.
On the positive side the practice you gain learning how to deal with a difficult boss or confronting a difficult boss can help you develop healthy relationships with future supervisors — and know what behaviours to avoid when you become a boss.