how to cope with a horrible boss

And such is life: Birth, taxes, and, at least once in everyone’s career, a horrible boss. In fact, says contributor, Dave Hutton, dealing with difficult bosses is so common that its become a “rite of passage for most employees.”

Horrible bosses emerge from front-line supervisors to CEOs. Managers’ rude conduct and bad attitudes—from bullying to whining—are the reason nearly half the American workforce dreads showing up to work every Monday. Whether they’re out-and-out bullies or just incompetent, “58 percent of those who left a job because of workplace culture cited their manager as the reason behind their decision.”

If your dream job has become a nightmare, it’s time to look at the relationship you have with your manager. Frankly, most folks can tell if they have a horrible boss. But if you’re convinced your misery is self-imposed, please check out this list of signs and consider that it may be your boss, not you, that’s making your job a living hell.

If your job has become a nightmare, it’s time to evaluate your relationship with your manager.

Signs of a horrible boss

They blame you for their mistakes, no matter how small. Their egos are so weak that they feel safer letting the “small guy” take the rap for even simple errors.

They micromanage your work. Like low flying wasps, micromanagers constantly hover over you, eyeballing everything you do. You must cross all your “T’s”  their way—or else!

micromanager horrible boss

Like low flying wasps, micromanagers constantly hover over you.

They don’t respect your privacy. It’s flattering when a higher-up shows an interest in your life. But, if they ask about your finances or a personal medical issue, that’s just plain nosy.

They have selective hearing. They hear your answer when they ask you to work late; but they go deaf if you ask for more time on a project.

They flip-flop. Your boss gives you competing demands (E.g. “Be innovative and take risks, but follow established protocol.”); or your boss has a Jekyll and Hyde personality, so you never know who you’ll be dealing with each day.

They sabotage your work. Whether intentionally (because they’re evil), or unintentionally (because they’re incompetent), your boss makes it impossible for you to get ahead because they do things to undermine or harm you.

They’re passive-aggressive. Your boss kids-on-the square to get away with making rude comments; they pout instead of verbalize something that bothers them; or they get loud and slams things until someone asks them what’s wrong.

They’re temperamental.  It doesn’t take much to set off a moody and/or volatile manager. When they’re around you and your team walk on eggshells.

They show favoritism. Your boss has their “picks” on who receives monetary bonuses or gets to work on the best projects. Other times, favoritism is more subtle, such as letting select employees break the dress code or turn work in late.

They steal your work or ideas. Fact is, some managers aren’t always as bright or creative as their staff, but they want to appear so to the higher-ups. It’s easy for them to consider your work as “their work” since you performed under their direction.

They gossip with you or about you. If your manager tells you about a coworker’s daughter who got pregnant at fifteen, or thinks it’s okay to tell your coworkers about your recent divorce, how can you trust them?

bad bosses gossip

If a manager tells you about a coworker, how can you trust him or her?

They withhold important information. Whether through carelessness or spite, some managers conceal crucial information that could help you succeed, or might prevent you from making a mistake.

They rarely respond to requests for help or feedback.  “In short,” writes Alan Henry in,  “a drive-by manager tends to spend their time giving you work rather than offering input and feedback so you can do that work.” Hutton refers to this kind of manager as “a ghost boss.”

It’s not me, it’s you!

By now you may conclude that your boss is… well… horrible. You’re wondering if there’s any hope of them changing; or if your only options are to grin and bear it or slide a resignation letter under their door.

In Part II, I offer several suggestions on things you can do, as well as what you should not do, to cope with a horrible boss. (Also, I urge you to follow the links included in this article as they will give you further guidance on this issue.)

What about you?

Can you tell us about an experience  you’ve had with a horrible boss? (Please withhold names!) How did you cope with your situation?