How Horrible Bosses Can Become a Blessing
There's a reason why the movie Horrible Bosses has taken in close to $200 million at the box office world-wide. It's a story people can relate to. According to employees surveyed by OfficeTeam, almost half say they've worked under an unreasonable manager and a poll from WorkingAmerica.org found that one-third of Americans feel pressure to stay with a bad boss because of current economic problems. But believe it or not-- sometimes bad bosses can be a blessing.
Bad Bosses are Fairly Common
There is plenty of data that proves bad bosses are plentiful in America. Here are some highlights from recent surveys:
- Those who work the night shift are more likely to have a bad boss according to WorkingAmerica.org. Late night workers are more likely to have bosses that try to take credit for their work and they also have more trouble getting time off.
- According to WorkingAmerica.org the traits workers most often complain about in their bosses are "laziness" and "dishonesty."
- WorkingAmerica.org also found that about ten percent of workers report having bad bosses. That's equal to around 15 million employees.
Therese Pope joined the non-profit sector because she wanted to help others and raise money for important causes. But what she ended up with was overwhelming stress and anxiety. "Not only was the chapter an unorganized mess, but my boss, the executive director, was a monster and he quickly reared his ugly head as the months progressed," explains Pope. "Walking through the door every morning was a stressful nightmare for me." Pope ended up having an anxiety attack, a turning point that motivated Pope to quit her job. "At 35 years old, I was scared that I’d drop dead of a heart attack because of the overwhelming stress and anxiety. I returned from my vacation and gave my one week’s notice, and quit without having another job," says Pope. But quitting gave Pope the confidence to take a huge risk. She launched her own business, Zenful Communications, a successful internet marketing and communications company. "It's not easy in this economy but I wouldn't go back to non-profit -- not for all the money in the world," says Pope. "I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I feel blessed that I have my own business and am building a successful career and doing exactly what I want and love to do."
Elise from Texas asked us not to use her last name. She worked for a man who Elise says didn't own one of those "World's Best Boss" coffee mugs-- and probably never will. He was a bad communicator and a micromanager who saw Elise's Internet research as wasted time. He seemed to love his Vespa more than most people. Her ideas were always criticized until finally Elise had had enough. "Before working there, I had never considered going back for a Master's degree," she says. "But it's funny what bad jobs and horrible bosses will do for one's academic outlook. So that's exactly what I did. I consider it one of the best life decisions I've ever made." She received a full scholarship to earn a Master's in Journalism. Now she's working for a successful PR firm as an Account Executive. "So I guess I should thank him for being so terrible... even though I wanted to let the air out of his Vespa tires a time or two."
Most Workers Suffer Through
Elise and Therese showed bravery for escaping their bad bosses, but the economic situation has put pressure on many workers to stay in their current jobs-- even if they have a horrible boss. They're worried they won't be able to find anything better so they're willing to put up with a less-than-ideal situation. According to OfficeTeam, 59% of those surveyed have stayed in their jobs and either tried to address a situation with a "challenging supervisor" or just live with it. "Friction between supervisors and employees can stem from differing work styles. It's not possible to control your boss's actions, but you can change how you respond to them," says Robert Hosking, executive director of Office Team. "Bad bosses aren't necessarily bad people, but they certainly can make work challenging for those who report to them."
How to Handle Your Bad Boss
If you're one of the millions who has made the decision to suffer through working for a bad boss, OfficeTeam offers some suggestions for how to handle various types of bosses:
|Boss type||Coping strategy|
|The micromanager has trouble delegating tasks. This boss looks over your shoulder to make sure you complete a project exactly as told.||Trust is usually the issue here, so make sure you build it. Don't miss deadlines, pay attention to details and keep your supervisor apprised of all the steps you've taken to ensure quality work.|
|The poor communicator provides little or no direction. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute or redone because goals and deadlines weren't clearly explained.||At the outset of a project, ask for any information your boss has not yet provided. Diplomatically point out that these details are necessary to ensure you meet his or her expectations. Seek clarification when confused and arrange regular check-ins.|
|The bully wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all. Bosses like this also tend to be gruff with others and easily frustrated.||Stand up for yourself. The next time your supervisor shoots down your proposal, for example, calmly explain your rationale. Often, this type of manager will relent when presented with a voice of reason.|
|The saboteur undermines the efforts of others and rarely recognizes individuals for a job well done. This supervisor takes credit for employees' ideas but places blame on others when projects go awry.||Your job is to make your boss look good, but not at the expense of your own career advancement. Ensure your contributions are more visible to others, especially senior management. Get information in writing from this person so you have a chain of communications to refer to, if needed.|
|The mixed bag is always a surprise. This manager's moods are unpredictable: He or she may confide in you one day and turn a cold shoulder the next.||Try not to take this boss's disposition personally. Stay calm and composed when dealing with this supervisor. When he or she is on edge, try to limit communication to urgent matters.||
In the movie Horrible Bosses, the main characters decide to hatch a murder plot to get rid of their superiors. While it may offer entertainment on the big screen, it's definitely not the way to go in the real world. If you feel like you're trapped in your current situation, try taking this advice to make the best out of a bad boss-- or use them as motivation to do something different.