How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

By: AJE Recruiting Specialist

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

At some point in your career, you will probably be challenged with dealing with a difficult boss. This may leave you riddled with a sense of low self esteem, and you may bring this negativity home. Although dealing with a difficult boss can leave you feeling that you have no control of your work life, there are strategies you can employ to alleviate this sense of helplessness.

Open the lines of communication. While most feel intimidated when broached with verbal attacks, allowing these types of discussions to fester can have negative ramifications. While you should not confront criticism by lashing out, you can respond non–emotionally, thereby minimizing the chances of further conflict.

If criticized, ask for constructive feedback. When your supervisor criticizes your work product, do not respond by being angry or emotional. In a calm manner, ask your manger how they would improve your work performance - and indicate that you are willing to work with them to resolve matters. Showing your boss that you are committed to improving your working relationship can help.

Schedule periodic meetings with your boss. Requesting these meetings can help you both outline expectations for on–the–job performance, and shows that you value their feedback. Understanding your boss’ preferences will also better align you with their expectations and may prevent further conflict in future.

Always maintain a professional attitude. Regardless of what supervisors or other colleagues say or do, you are in control of your own conduct and performance at work. Conflicts may arise; however, maintaining a courteous and professional manner is within your control.

Be self aware. If you are continually being called out by your boss, look inward and determine if there is something in your job performance that may be attracting this criticism. Ask other managers you have reported to for their honest opinion of your work product, and if necessary, make adjustments accordingly.

Keep a record of all discussions. While the open lines of communication may help improve relations with a difficult boss, you cannot control or change anyone. Keeping an accurate record of all meetings and discussions will help should conflict escalate to the point where you need to involve Human Resources.

Recognize that you are not alone. HR, co–workers and others can provide guidance if issues with your manager persists. And if you are facing an issue that appears to be insurmountable, trying to control this solely on your own may not be advisable. While you should never go over your boss’ head, if matters do not improve, requesting a meeting with your HR department is best.

In some cases, conflicting personalities may mean that improving the relationship with your boss is not possible. This is a time when you need to ask yourself if you should meet with HR to determine if you can report to a different manager, or it not possible look for a different job altogether.