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How to Deal with your Bad Boss
How to Deal with your Bad Boss

How to Deal with your Bad Boss

There is a common assumption that millennial employees are “job-hoppers” that are quick to change jobs within a short time, in search of greener pastures or to advance their careers. What many people fail to do is to investigate the real circumstances that surround every employee’s decision to quit a job. Mostly employee’s  want to quit job owing to bad boss behavior.

One area that is not usually considered is the possibility of having a fall out with a boss. What if it is the case that such individuals quit because of bad managers? According to data published in DDI’s Frontline Leader Project in 2019, 57 per cent of employees left a job because of their manager. Furthermore, 14 per cent have left multiple jobs because of their managers. An additional 32 per cent have seriously considered leaving because of their manager.

The COVID-19 global pandemic, during which employees have to work from home and leaders have to exercise control over employees remotely, has further exposed the inadequacies of corporate leadership in some organizations. Some bosses are the most stressful part of their employees’ workday. They are a toxic pandemic that constitutes a workplace nuisance which contributes to psychological distress. They can push employees to quit their jobs, although loss aversion makes it difficult to give up something one has.

There is a level to which employees can tolerate the stress from having a boss predisposed to unrestrained anxiety and aggression. Employees want bosses that can show emotional support to them through empathy and flexibility rather than someone intrusive or picky.

What If your Boss is Unaware that they are Bad?

What makes a good or bad leader is not definite, as it relies heavily on basic human psychological dynamics. In other words, it depends on the employee’s needs, the manager’s skills, and the circumstances of an event. In situational leadership, for instance, a boss’ failure to give an employee the respect they deserve might make them quit the job. It could also be an employee’s lack of access to opportunities for growth and development under the supervisor.

A manager could think that by providing lots of direction to you, they are overpowering you. Most of the time, the views of an employee may not be in sync with their boss. Sometimes, your boss could be so overwhelmed with responsibilities that they cannot provide you with the emotional support you need. The responsibilities of their department or unit could have also expanded beyond their grip or competence.

The best way to handle this is to talk to your boss, telling them what you hold valuable and what you need in terms of support. Be specific about your needs. You might also have to state the rationale behind the needs and how the organization can benefit from them. While quitting the job might not be your best bet, there are professional approaches to dealing with bad bosses.

Talk to the Bad Boss

This is the first professional action that shows that you are seeking equilibrium between your values and beliefs and with those of your boss. Tell your boss how your performance is being affected by their actions and attitudes. Reveal what you need in terms of support and direction. Do you need positive feedback as necessary? Do you need a weekly check-in? Do you want to access certain resources to support your role? Tell them.

Avoid telling the boss that they are bad. This is counterproductive and may hinder you from achieving your goals. It is equally important to talk to your boss at the right time. You should know that such discussion is better held when you’ve made time for this specific conversation and they are in the right state of mind.

Engage and Interact with a Support Network

Going through a situation that is emotionally challenging alone can be very difficult. Thus, it is important to build a strong wall of people around yourself, those who can encourage and motivate you. This could be your friends, family, or colleagues. Outside of work, create socialization or stress-reducing plan. It may be helpful to get yourself a mentor or coach.

Explore other Opportunities within the Organization

That your boss doesn’t seem to change their bossy nature is not enough reason to leave a company. Consider other departments within the organization in which your skills can fit and be valued. When you find one, you can request a change in the department. This shows that you still reserve some love for your employer and work.

Consult with your HR Department

Usually, it is expected that every organization has the Human Resource department to address the complaints of employees. You may have to make an official report of the issues you are having with your boss to the department. However, you may also have to do some research on a similar issue in the past and the role the department played in addressing it.

If you’ve exhausted all reasonable options and your boss has indicated that they can’t or aren’t willing to change, then quitting might be the next option to consider. It is important to consider because that situation can affect your performance and emotions negatively. In other words, you may have to hire yourself a new boss. However, considering this option requires you to give appropriate notice to the HR department and prepare a professional letter of resignation.

You might need to prepare for the worst immediately if your bad boss notices you are quitting. This makes it necessary to have your transition plan organized. Be clear on it. Return all company property. Complete all projects you are handling at the point of considering a quit.


In all, avoid talking bad about your former boss during a potential job interview. It can affect your future job prospects and looks poorly upon your professionalism. Ultimately, with the experience of a bad boss, you have had the opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t in a leader and how you can navigate that or become a better leader in the future.

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Dr. Roy is the Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer and holds responsibility for the overall strategic management & leadership in achieving the graduate schools’ vision & goals. His own belief for lifelong learning, as well as his drive for business management excellence, has brought him to achieving his passion for being part of the postgraduate education sector in Malaysia.

Dr Roy Prasad

(Hon Professor) FInstAM 

MHRM (MY), Grad Mgt (AU)

Group Managing Director &
Chief Executive Officer

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