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How to cope with a ‘Bad Boss’

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The workplace should be a “home away from home” to everyone, but there are many “unlucky employees” who find such settings a dreamland because they cannot just stop butting heads with their bosses, colleagues, and customers – even the peevish walls.

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Mary Abbajay, the management professional who wrote Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss, acknowledged that adapting to every manager’s style and personality could be an uphill task for most dedicated and productive workers. But when the workplace eventually turns toxic, making the decision to break up or buddy up morphs into a bigger challenge. Freaking awful.

Affected employees describe their bosses as “micromanagers,” “double-edged sword,” “rage-prone,” “d***head,” and “A-hole.” Sound familiar? Been there, done that.

If you are still working with toxic managers and colleagues, DON’T YOU WORRY. There is a silver lining up there in the clouds.

Finding strength in your challenges rather than giving excuses for quitting on yourself is what distinguishes winners from losers. Stop blaming people for a seeming weakness that you have powers to maximize for good.

Abbajay explained that working with an abusive boss motivated her decision to quit and start a business, not to make profits, but to create a healthy work environment where people learn how to lead by example.

‘I swore never to oppress and exploit people the way he did,’ Abbajay wrote.

As a co-founder and president Careerstone Group, a Washington-based coaching and leadership development firm, she has regularly provided inspiring answers to questions on “bosses from hell, workaholics, narcissists etc.”

Speaking on “toxic bosses” and “ghost managers,” Abbajay noted that although one must be a good follower to achieve success at the workplace, most committed professionals with big dreams often succumb to the crushing attitude of a higher-up who can be venomous, uncompromising, indecisive, and annoying.

The management professional advised employees not to ‘believe that every leader is worth following.’

Her words: ‘If you work with a boss who is so insensitive to the point that your self-worth begins to fall apart…if you are overwhelmed, afraid or often shed tears in secret places for the torturous relationships at your workplace, your one and only option is run from that person immediately.’

In her quest to distinguish between good and bad bosses, and help aggrieved workers decide when the time is ripe to bail their workplaces, Abbajay developed a questionnaire with 20 questions.

She continued, ‘Where, for example, your boss feels at ease tearing you down in front of other people, it is time to leave.

‘Do you work with a boss who regularly flies into screaming temper tantrums or demands absolute loyalty but will not hesitate to throw you under the bus at the first opportunity?

‘If your answer is yes,’ Abbajay added, ‘get the hell out. Now!’

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It is understandable that some bosses behave the way they do out of desperation for success. They are humans, just ordinary and flawed humans and, sometimes, impulsive sociopaths who clearly lack knowledge of human resource management basics.

On why people find it difficult to nurture cordial relationships with their boss, Abbajay pointed out that in many organizations, workers get promotions based on their technical skills –  not their management capabilities.

‘For this reason, mediocre managers are replete in workplaces,’ she said, however advising that the best advice is to stop complaining and start planning for a better future away from that less-than-ideal situation.

‘Graduates of the 21st century are yet to understand this,’ the self-motivated entrepreneur lamented. ‘I have seen peoples’ ego get in their way as they resist change because they want to be right, appreciated, understood or loved…This is a waste of valuable time and energy because a toxic boss hardly changes but we have the power to change how we are treated.’

Abbajay noted that employees either drain or energize a boss, however adding that flexibility provides a lifeline for those who wish to avoid a catastrophic staff-boss relationship.

Her best advice: ‘At the start of your new job, one important thing to do is: engage your boss in a conversation and ask three questions on his or her priorities, the method/frequency of reporting, and his or her “privacy concerns.’”

‘Knowing these tips, instead of making assumptions, are the only ways to enjoy even the worst managers from day one,’ Abbajay added.

Where these efforts fail to provide the desired relationship, leave your bad boss behind, dust off the sand from your shoes and move on.

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