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The Toxic Boss

How to Deal with a Toxic Boss

How can you deal with a workplace ruled by a crummy boss? Many assume there's not much to be done, especially if you're low in the pecking order or new at the job. Who do you complain to or what can you do when it's your boss that is causing havoc in your life?

Bully bosses need to be dealt with. Because if you have one, your stress levels may be off the chart and this affects more than your career. It could impact your longevity. If you have a bad boss, your risk of heart disease skyrockets.

Controlling bad bosses

If you're in a position yourself to do something about an underling who's a bad boss at your organization, send them on leadership or management training course asap, at the very least. Notify HR. They should have procedures in place to help. If you're part of a smaller organization, you may need to search out and record instances, gather comments/evidence, and find speedy solutions. Your organization's productivity will decline otherwise, and turnover rates may increase, plus employee complaints of harassment can lead to legal and liability issues for you. 

How do you identify a bad boss? Are they impatient, controlling? Do they play favorites?  If they're prone to criticize publicly, embarrass, or reprimand staff over perceived failures, those are indicators. 

Bad bosses tend to be quick to blame and complain when they see what they regard as shortcomings, yet don't compliment or encourage for other tasks the employee may be doing right. Bad bosses aren't great communicators.

Employees try to please

Employees are often left spinning around to meet or anticipate complicated or changing expectations, but these aren't properly explained, may lack rhyme and reason, or vary at a whim, and this affects productivity, creativity, and the employees' ability to perform. They may start second guessing and lose job confidence—leading the bully boss to come down even harder. Forbes' list of what makes a bad boss is instructive—see if yours has any of these traits.

If you're in the unfortunate position of having a cranky, overbearing, or super judgmental boss who's ruining your work life--and, of course, this impacts your home life--what can you do about it?

Forbes recommends trying to find something good about them and focus on that to help you through day by day. Continue to work at the top of your game and show your best skills--rise above it—don't begin to behave badly yourself. You'll probably start looking for another job, but if you're stuck for one reason or another—try to figure out what this boss is looking for and do your best to accommodate, as long as you're remaining true to your values and beliefs. A good idea is also to stay out of their way. If you can't, show your leadership skills and capabilities and continue to act as best you know how. Gossip about bad bosses spreads and it's likely that those higher up the management chain in your organization will hear and do something about it to safeguard the organization's reputation and bottom line.

Psychology Today suggests the Keep Calm and Carry On approach to deal with a terrible boss. 

Inc's list of typical toxic bosses includes suggestions on how to cope. Whether you have a micromanager, tyrant, incompetent who was promoted beyond his or her capabilities (the remedy is to swallow your pride and share!)—or any other kind, it's important that you do take steps to handle the stress. Otherwise, the results of working for a problem boss could be fatal.


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