In 2015, polling giant Gallup released a comprehensive study of management in America. Among the findings, this one will likely not come as a surprise: “50 percent of Americans have left a job to get away from their manager.”
The working world is rife with micromanagers, managers who change their opinions more often than they change their socks, managers who are clueless, and even managers who are just utterly uninterested in doing their jobs.
While over 90 percent of companies offer some kind of management training, it often falls on deaf ears. As much as companies spend time and money to develop their leaders, employees continue to rate their bosses right at the top of the list of things they hate about work.
It would be great to be able to fix a horrible boss yourself, but that’s unlikely. So how do you deal with a stultifying supervisor?
Know Your Bad Boss
When you need to figure out how to manage up (or around) your manager, the first thing you need to do is identify the problem. Bad bosses typically fall into one (or more) of these three categories:
- Overly controlling
- Disengaged and uninterested
- Manipulative/politically motivated
Once you’ve determined the main problem with your manager, you can come up with a plan of action.
For the overly controlling type, your goal is to get out from under the constant scrutiny of how you are doing your job. A micromanager is a frustrating person to work for, mostly because they won’t leave you alone. Fight back by suggesting a daily 10- to 15-minute stand-up meeting to let them know what you’re working on so they always feel in the loop. Copy them on everything—you may hate getting copied on e-mails, but the micromanager loves it, and it only takes a second to add them to the list of recipients. The goal with a controlling manager is to keep them so up to date that they stay out of your way.
The MIA Manager
The disengaged manager is usually either coasting in their current role, trying to put in as little effort as possible, or actively looking for another job. While that might seem like a breath of fresh air after the control freak, it does mean that you might miss out on opportunities because they are not actively promoting the team. In this case, your best bet is to network within the organization. Get to know your boss’ boss and see if you can stay in the know that way. Actively reach out to other departments and teams and become the go-to person when they need to work with your group. You’ll also need to actively seek out your own professional development opportunities since it’s unlikely your manager will care enough to help you with that.
Have you ever worked with someone who takes credit for all of your ideas? It’s incredibly frustrating! The politically motivated manager is trying to weasel his/her way up the career ladder on the backs of everyone else. They are always scheming for the win, the promotion, the accolades, or the bonus. You can’t trust anything they say, so your best bet is to find other sources of information. As with the MIA manager, you should look to other people outside your team to help you stay connected. You’ll also want to keep a paper trail with this bad boss. Make sure you confirm conversations with e-mails and get promises in writing, because otherwise you’ll find yourself out in the cold.
Working for a horrible boss is no fun. That’s why so many people end up quitting. But if you love your job and your company, you don’t have to let a terrible manager force you out the door. Stay on the lookout for opportunities on other teams. You might get a chance to get out from under your nemesis and move on to work for someone more supportive.