Dec 12 2018

3 Strategies for Dealing With an Objectively Bad Boss


Everyone has that one coworker they just don’t click with. And it’s fine, you’re polite to them and suck up your negative feelings when you have to work closely together, and avoid the person when you don’t.

However, when that one coworker is your boss it’s a whole different story.

Unfortunately, disliking your boss is fairly common. If you’re in this situation, what are your options for moving forward?

#1: Find a new manager

This is the most obvious solution: Get a better boss. However, it’s usually not the best option. Not only does it require switching teams (or even companies), you might end up with a manager who’s only a little better—or even worse!

Before deciding this is the route for you, answer these questions:

  • How long have you tried to make it work?
    • If it’s been fewer than four months, consider giving the relationship more time.
  • Am I at all responsible?
    • One person is rarely to blame for 100% of the problem. Look at your own behavior as objectively as possible. Is there anything you’re doing that exacerbates the tension, communication issues, or other areas of concern?
  • Do other people work well with your manager?
    • If your boss manages to work successfully with your peers, you’re probably capable of reaching a good place with them as well. On the other hand, if everyone has trouble, you know where the problem lies.
  • How unhappy am I?
    • If you dread coming into work every morning, have tried several ways to improve the situation, and still can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, finding a new employer is probably your best bet. If that’s not the case, you may want to keep reading.

#2: Change your behavior

What? Why do you have to change? Well, because it’s easier to modify your own behavior than your manager’s. Start by identifying the biggest potholes of your relationship. Then, figure out a potential solution.

Is it super stressful when your boss makes last-minute changes to important projects? Wait until a neutral time, then explain to him the implications of eleventh-hour requests and how the entire team and your results suffer. Conclude by asking for deadline extensions for high-priority asks.

Or maybe your manager makes dismissive comments about your work. Next time she does that, schedule a quick meeting with her (ideally in a neutral place, like a local coffee shop) and say, “I felt [uncomfortable, confused] when you said [X during Y conversation]. I wanted to let you know because I’m sure that wasn’t your intent.” (It’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt here.) “Going forward, can we set up [daily check-ins, a weekly stand-up, one-month status updates] so I can get your feedback and make sure I’m on the right track?”

Calmly presenting the issue and coming up with a fix will make your manager far likelier to make behavioral adjustments than accusing them of being a bad boss would.

#3: Go to HR

Talking to HR is the nuclear option. Don’t take this route unless your boss has done something inappropriate, unsafe, or illegal.

Your manager is giving all the choice assignments to your coworker (who happens to be their cousin) and foisting all the leftovers on you? Not a problem for HR.

Your manager refuses to grant your PTO requests? That’s a problem for HR.

While HR should be a resource for employees, it’s ultimately meant to help the business. Your needs and the company’s needs aren’t always aligned. So, unless the situation with your boss crosses a line, it’s typically best to try to resolve issues first without HR.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 27 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit

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