How to deal with a terrible boss?

It is often said that employees do not quit companies; they leave their manager/boss! A good boss inspires its team & gives endless opportunities to grow & accelerate in their career. On the flip-side, a terrible & incompetent boss can create a toxic environment & drive negativity leading to adversely impact the corporation’s brand image.

If you are unfortunate to have a manager/boss who is terrible & want to pursue their personal interest, the question arises how to deal with them? Should you look out /scout your next career move? We are going to share some strategies to deal with the situation in different scenarios:

  1. Your boss lacks experience: If your manager lacks knowledge & expertise to deliver his/her job responsibilities or lead a team, this can be really frustrating. If they are willing to learn, give them time. In addition to every day on the job training, there are a lot of management & leadership programs which they can attend. So lack of management & leadership skills can be a transitional/temporary problem. If you are genuinely willing to lend a helping hand without causing embarrassment, you are building a platform for long term & loyal professional association.
  2. Your boss always takes the credit: A selfish manager, who does not care about their team growth & learning, can never be an inspiring & motivating manager. Rather than exposing his unacceptable & deceitful deeds & exposing their overinflated claims, you should be good to bid your time until a more senior person sees through the pretence. So what should be your approach till your manager’s realty is exposed? First, make the best out of the situation by proving your worth so that your value to the department is never in question. Who knows you may be the best bet for the next manager. Secondly, plan your next career move by gaining experience in other departments where your efforts can be rewarded easily. However, if you see if placement of your manager is politically motivated or senior management too are incompetent or have portrayed a rosy picture in front of board/C-suite, you are better off scouting for roles internally or exploring to pursue interest outside the organisation.
  3. Your boss is never available: If your manager seems to be in office/at their work station, always on phone or in meetings, they are essentially absent & are not in a position to offer anything in way of management. It leaves the team with no one to give direction. If your boss is not regularly involved in the going on of the department, they leave a power vacuum which sooner & later will fill in. It could be you. However you have to be careful not to step on anyone’s shoes but if you are ambitious & have excellent leadership skills, it is a perfect opportunity to let them shine.
  4. Your boss micromanages: Micromanagement is the opposite end of the behavioural spectrum.They are insecure & want to know every minute details of you, watching you & pointing out every small mistake you make. Trust issues take precedence & your boss/manager would not be comfortable delegating even small/tiny work to you. The strategy should be learn & tune into the way your boss this person ticks & work with them( not against them). Forecast what they are going to ask & be prepared. If they are too pressed for deadlines, be ready with work/deliverables beforehand so that you do not give them a chance to find shortcomings. There are chances that your boss may not share all details with you about a particular project & ask you to deliver a bit of it quickly or may ask you to deliver something immediately out of the box which under common circumstances may take time. Having worked with your boss for quite sometime now, you should be clear enough to anticipate his expectation & deliver accordingly.
  5. Your boss only sees negative: Some people’s mind is engineered in a way that they can only see negativity & would never praise. When people around you focus only on negatives , they can take it to extremes & can spread negative energy. So what should you do? Firstly figure our ground for your boss’s negativity. Are they happy with your performance? If so, this needs to be addressed in a professional HR context as a matter of urgency. However, if they are constantly taking your actions in a negative sense for no apparent reason, your best strategy is to counter your boss’ negativity with positivity. Pour enough positive energy to reassure yourself that things are better than they are visualising.

PS: Originally published on

Corporate finance professional turned Health & Fitness Entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast, adventurer & trekking enthusiast