We’ve all had them. That micro manager. The bad boss who doesn’t seem to trust anything you do. Even worse? They are in denial and blind to their own shortcomings, but eager to share yours with you. While it can be a frustrating experience whenever you find yourself in these situations, I’m here to remind you to look for the good.
I’ve had the pleasure to work for some of the most awesome beings imaginable. These people are inspiring, thoughtful, creative, and trustworthy. Of course, we aren’t always lucky to deal with such people, especially when it comes to people in supervisory roles. But remember, how we deal with these situations can be the difference between making us okay and great. Here are a few things to remember and learn from the bad boss who is difficult to deal with.
They may never trust you. You might as well get used to it. Some people will believe that the buck completely stops with them. They don’t want the risk of having one of their subordinates fail because of this. Because they believe that the buck may stop with them, they second guess your decisions and question why you do things the way you do. This provides you with little autonomy to do your job and be creative. These people may not trust you because of their own insecurities. And of course, we all must love the supervisor who thinks you’re only out to impress so you can steal their job.
They micromanage, but love to deny it. “I’m not a micro-manager.” That’s what they say but do the opposite. If they seem like they have a really particular way to do even the most mundane tasks, this is a sure sign of a micro-manager. These people will have feedback for every duty you perform. “Well, I would’ve…” Well, you didn’t. And you know why you didn’t? Because you asked me to do it. And this is how I chose to do it, based upon you asking me to do it. See how this works? If a supervisor’s vision for a mundane task is so specific, the chances are this supervisor may be better off doing it themselves.
The absent boss. This person is rarely around, or can be around plenty but with little information or support to offer. This can be just as frustrating for an employee, but some like the freedom offered by an absent boss or a boss who lacks the knowledge to actually be the boss. This boss can become super frustrating with their absence or lack of support, especially when they criticize the end results.
And now, the positive about being in any situation with a bad boss.
This is the fun part. This is the part that sucks in the moment and days but pays dividends in the years.
I used to be a pretty bad boss myself. Well, when it came to following the rules and getting things done, I was great. When it came to actually being human and showing emotion to my team, I sucked. I didn’t care to hear any excuse and there was very little you could say that would help me excuse an underachieving performance. And then I worked with a horrible boss.
The boss had a tremendous amount of on the job knowledge but had no business managing their own self, let alone another human being. For nine months I woke up, went to work early, came home late, and drudged through the drudgery of having a horrible boss. I looked for other jobs, I complained, I tried to reason and ask for trust and a bit of respect, but it was never found. It stunk really, but it was the greatest professional lesson I ever learned.
I returned home at the end of the season (I was working for a hockey team at the time). I had made a commitment, made it through the commitment, now determined to have a positive and actionable takeaway from the season. So, what was my positive and actionable take away from the season? Learning how I was never going to behave, ever again.
I read books like How To Win Friends And Influence People, How To Talk To Anyone, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.
I studied body language, people, and put a countless number of hours between the end of hockey season and the beginning of my summer job. The determination to be a great director that summer was unstoppable. And the result? I got more from that summer than I had ever got of any previous summer.
You see, all of those long days and nights… All those moments where I wanted to give up and tell my boss where to stick it. I didn’t. Well, at least not as much as I wanted to or as much as I should have. I told myself halfway through the season that I was just learning how to never treat the people around me, especially the people who worked for with me.
I’ll never forget the human side to the people who work with me. Titles aren’t important. In fact, the people who keep the show running are often the people who have some of the “lowest” titles. I had their title once and you (likely) did too. Remember what it’s like. If you never had their title, you may never know what it’s like. You must either fully respect what they’re doing (if they’re giving their best effort), or figure out what the hell it is that they do.
Having a bad boss can be an enlightening experience, if only you let it be.