5 Ways to Cope with the Worst Boss Ever

A friend of mine loves to talk about the worst boss he ever had. His boss was the manager of a factory where he worked part time while a student. His boss apparently believed that the best way to motivate people was by yelling at them, and that everything that went wrong was their fault—including the weather.

Have you ever had a lousy boss? Nearly everyone has, or will. Blogger Michael Hyatt has identified the Top-10 Characteristics of Lousy Leaders. See if you’ve ever worked for someone who exhibited one or more of these traits:

  1. They don’t have enough confidence to lead at their level.
  2. They’re arrogant, assuming they always know what’s best.
  3. They’re disorganized.
  4. Their words and actions erode trust, even with their supporters.
  5. They over-promise and under-deliver.
  6. They don’t articulate a clear vision.
  7. They don’t enroll others in their initiatives.
  8. They’re not transparent.
  9. They’re blind to what’s happening in their own organizations.
  10. They don’t hold people accountable—especially themselves

Whether it’s ignorance, insecurity, incompetence—or some combination of the three—some people simply are not able to lead well in their current position. And these bosses can make your life miserable.

Best-selling author Mitch Albom quips, “The wrong boss can make even the ideal job a holy terror. The wrong boss can make you wake up in a cold sweat, make you dread the alarm clock, make you question your self-worth and even contemplate some things you never thought you’d do.”

If you find yourself working for someone like that, there are better ways to cope than just hiding in the back room. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about dealing with a lousy boss.

  1. Be Straightforward. If you are being unfairly treated, say so. Nobody deserves to be yelled at or blamed for things they haven’t done. Stand up for yourself, even if it means you might get fired.
  1. Be Diligent. Having a bad boss is no excuse for being a poor employee. Always do your best, even if you feel that your employer does not deserve it. Remember, you ultimately work for the Lord, not your supervisor.
  2. Bring a Good Attitude. The boss’s bad attitude can infect the workplace like a poison. But you can bring the antidote in the form of smiles, optimism, and encouragement.
  1. Don’t Accept the Boss’s Judgment. Your employer may not approve of you or the work you do, but they are not your ultimate judge. Do your best. Keep a clear conscience, and maintain your self-esteem. Don’t allow people you don’t respect to make you disrespect yourself.
  1. Remember that No Job Lasts Forever. And neither does a boss. Jobs and bosses come and go. Consider this a season in your life, and learn what you can from it.

You will have many bosses in your life, no doubt. And you will also be a leader in your home, your work, and your community. What can you do to become a better employee—and a better boss?