My friend has been confiding in me lately about her conflicting feelings toward her job and her boss. She loves what she does but despises her manager's behavior. Hearing her stories makes me cringe, and I struggle to find comforting words in response. It's a challenging situation, but what's the alternative? Quitting abruptly and hoping for better job elsewhere?
Research consistently shows that people often leave their jobs because of their bosses, not the companies themselves. While having a boss you dislike is a common reason for job hunting, it's not the only solution. If finding a new job isn't feasible right now, there are ways to cope with the situation of having a great job with a difficult boss.
Take a Good Look: Take a close look at yourself, your boss, your team, and the department you're part of, as well as the work you do. This advice isn't new, but it's essential. Have you considered if there's anything you might be doing to contribute to the problem? While you're undoubtedly a great employee, it's worth evaluating if there's anything you could improve or change. For instance, if your boss micromanages you, could it be because you sometimes submit incomplete work? Or if she's not available to answer questions, could it be because she doesn't realize you want more feedback because you've proven to be very reliable?
Identify exactly what bothers you about your boss and see if there's anything you can do to address it. If there's nothing you can change, maybe you can adjust how you react to her behavior to avoid escalating situations. For example, if she frequently emails you at odd hours expecting immediate responses, you could gently establish boundaries for your response times instead of replying hastily.
Also, if there's anything positive about your boss, no matter how small, make a note of it and refer to it when you feel like quitting on the spot. Does she support flexible working arrangements? Does she give you autonomy on significant projects? While your boss may not be perfect, consider the bigger picture and focus on the positives.
Remind Yourself Why You Love Your Job: Despite the challenges with your boss, continue to appreciate the aspects of your job that you enjoy. Make a list of everything you like about your position, no matter how small. Whether it's having unlimited organic milk or working closely with the graphic design team, every positive aspect counts.
Once you have your list, continue working and take comfort in the many things you appreciate about your job. Is it worth leaving all that behind because of a difficult boss? While many people choose to leave, unless your boss causes severe anxiety or makes you dread going to work every day, try to focus on the parts of your job that are going well. Avoid showing your boss that they've rattled you.
If your boss is as insecure or incompetent as they need to be to make you miserable, don't let them see that they've affected you. Try to stay positive, even if it means gritting your teeth for the time being. If you love your job, it likely means you're doing good work that you're proud of. Focus on maintaining that momentum, and perhaps some of your frustrations will start to fade away.
Wait it Out: If you've thoroughly assessed the situation and concluded that you're not at fault and your boss is genuinely awful, trust that others see it too. Truly terrible individuals usually can't fool others for long. If your boss consistently undermines you or takes credit for your work, rest assured that others likely notice her manipulative behavior as well. Even if she receives praise now, someone will eventually recognize what's happening, and she'll be held accountable. One can hope, at least.
If it's not just a matter of a difficult personality, but rather your boss's behavior is disrespectful or manipulative, make sure to document everything. You deserve fair treatment and respect for your work, and having evidence of your boss's behavior can be valuable. It might be a hassle, but it's better to have proof than not.
However, if the situation doesn't improve over time, or if your boss's behavior worsens, and she gets promoted instead of being reprimanded, you might have to consider moving on. In reality, it might be more productive to start looking for a new job than to try convincing higher-ups or HR that your boss needs to go.
If you love your job because of the type of work itself, consider looking for similar positions in other companies. If it's the company culture and your colleagues (excluding your boss) that make you happy, explore opportunities for an internal transfer. Either way, you deserve to work with people who bring out the best in you, so don't let a great job prevent you from finding an even better one with an awesome boss. There's a position out there that will offer you fulfilling responsibilities and a manager you'll love.