How to Deal With a Bad Boss

bad boss

This is sort of a two parter because there’s two ways this can go:

1. You think you have a bad boss

2. You actually have a bad boss.

Part I - You think you have a bad boss:

A lot of the time it’s not actually that your boss is ‘bad’ it’s that they are focusing on their own stuff - cuz, we’ve all got stuff right? In this case you may need a reframe, a change of outlook. Ask yourself just why is it you think your boss is ‘bad’? 

“They don't advocate for their team because they are not paying attention to the issues.”

 Before you get upset about something your boss has or hasn’t done and start bad mouthing them over the fridge full of La Croix (because seriously who has a water cooler?) ask yourself what the intent of their actions is.

Are they actually not paying attention or does it just feel like it because you’re not in the loop? Are they making decisions you don’t agree with? You may just not have all the info. If you feel there is a specific issue that is important to your team and your boss is unaware - schedule a 1:1 to discuss.

Your boss may be very aware, just not discussing it with you. If they aren’t aware, educate them. If they are, ask for their take on the situation. Ask if there is something you can do to help the situation.

“My boss doesn’t acknowledge the work I do.”

Many managers work under the rule that if you’re doing your job, great. Paycheck. They don’t have to worry about you. If you’re NOT doing your job, then they have to drag you into the principal’s office for talks they don’t want to have.

Some just suck at positive feedback. If it’s more than just a lack of feedback, but you feel you’re being overlooked, this is where you have to be your own best advocate. Once you have a plan (you’ve got a career plan right?) you can’t expect everyone else to a) know about it and b)fall into line.

You need to discuss your career growth goals with your boss/manager/HR. 

Have you been busting your butt and angling for that promotion on for it to go unnoticed? Guess what, your boss is probably doing the same thing and feeling the same feels. Sit down with them and let them know that you want that promotion and outline everything you’ve been doing to get it.

Most likely there are a few things that role requires that you just don’t possess yet. Ask what those needs are, ask for a timeline of completion and ask to officially be considered for the promotion you want. 

“My boss doesn’t include me in discussions/decisions that are important for my team.”

The unfortunate truth is that many managers are never taught how be good leaders. A good leader will ideally include you in those conversations, and if that’s not appropriate, they will explain their ‘why’ so that you can understand their reasoning.

Now, many bosses won’t offer that kind of transparency and you’ll come off as combative if you ask “Why did you make that decision?” over and over. The only thing you can do here is explain why you feel you need to be involved in those conversations and ask to be a part of them. If that is a no-go, ask to be told some of the decision making process. If that’s a no-go, unfortunately there’s not much more pushing you can do here. 


Part II - You actually have a bad boss:

HOWEVER, sometimes you really can just have a petty, vindictive, asshole of a boss. It just is the luck of the draw. Have you been open and clear about your wants and career needs but your manager is a petty asshole who treats you like crap? Stay professional, be as effective as you can, watch them and learn what not to do.

What do they do that rubs employees the wrong way? How do they treat their peers vs. their direct reports? When you bounce and are in a leadership position elsewhere, be sure to not emulate their actions. Be the boss you wish you had. 

If you unfortunately find yourself with one of those lovely people, you have a few options:

1. If you want to stay: do your best to breathe and deal and continue doing great work to spite them.

2. If you want to stay but can’t breathe: if you’re open to new roles under new managers, talk to HR.

3. If you want to leave: update that LinkedIn yo

Once you’ve figured out if you’re in situation 1 or 2, you can make a plan. You gotta have a plan! Got questions? Pop ‘em in the comments!

Yours in career goodness,


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