The most horrible bosses ever—and how to deal with them
In Monster’s new podcast, our career expert Vicki Salemi explains how to end an abusive relationship—with your boss.
Yellers. Micro-managers. Jealous haters. Chances are, you’ve run into one of those types at work, but what should you do if that person is your manager? According to a Monster poll, more than 30% of workers say they have (or have had) a toxic boss. What do you do if the one person responsible for your day-to-day happiness at work—not to mention your career—is just awful?
If you’re early in your career, it can be a tough call. On the one hand, you might think, “I need this job, and I have to pay my dues,” but working with a boss who is aggressive, underhanded, or jealous is downright demoralizing.
“No one should tolerate a horrible boss, bottom line,” says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “I don’t care if you’re 22 or 52. If you’re in a toxic environment, you need to find ways that you can further your career and be happy—even if that means working for someone else.”
Not sure if you’ve got a toxic boss? Take a look at the four most common offenders. You can hear more about the four types in my conversation with Vicki Salemi in our new Monster podcast here and by listening below (please subscribe to hear more!) or keep reading.
In terms of sanity and peace of mind, this is probably the worst type of boss to have—someone who thinks it’s appropriate to berate or belittle you in public, treating you like a child, and not an employee. “This is the boss who’s yelling, ‘You screwed up!” in front of your entire department, literally leaving you in tears,” says Salemi.
If you’re stuck with a verbally abusive boss who thinks it’s OK to humiliate you, you should definitely approach HR, says Salemi. But if nothing changes, you might just have to cut your losses and get out. “One client of mine with a screaming boss ended up quitting and she didn’t even have another job lined up,” says Salemi. “She just said, ‘I’m done. This is wreaking havoc on my self-esteem. This is toxic.’” Even if you have to take a step down, or even a pay cut, it could be worth saving your mental health.
Occasionally you will run into an unethical type of boss who’s lying, cheating, and stealing—but it becomes even worse when they ask you to do it. It’s one thing to witness someone else’s bad behavior, but when it’s expected of you, that’s when you may have to make some tough decisions.
“Faced with that kind of ethical dilemma, there’s usually no choice but to leave,” says Salemi. “One client of mine was in this position, and it had a terrible impact on him personally. He was tired, depressed and miserable. Ultimately he quit and found another job, but that experience affected him for a long time.”
Micromanagers are more common than yellers and liars, and most of us have run into at least a little bit of this from a manager. “This person may not be screaming and may not be lying, but they are watching your every move,” says Salemi. “They don’t trust you. They don’t necessarily understand what you do every day, but they’re asking you for certain things that you feel are unnecessary.”
Salemi says you don’t always have to run for the hills if you’re stuck with one. “You can try to manage your manager by anticipating their needs. Be proactive,” she says. “If they ask you constantly for a report before every Friday meeting, give them the report Thursday night, so they don’t ask you the question.” Basically, use their attention for detail as a way to make sure you’re on top of your game. Once you prove to them that you’re 150% “on it,” they may even relax a little.
The jealous saboteur
If you keep raising your hand for new projects or assignments and your boss never says yes, takes credit for your work or refuses to let you further your skills with extra education, this toxic boss might be actively trying to thwart your career path.
“That’s a huge red flag,” says Salemi, “because as your boss, that’s one of their main purposes. Your boss is supposed to support you and see you grow.”
Salemi says the best way to get around this type of boss is to find a mentor at work who will support you. “If your micromanager is not providing tools and resources for you to manage your career, you need to find other ways to do it,” she says. “Find an ally within your company. Maybe approach a leader within another group, or your boss’s boss, so you can talk about your career growth and where you’re headed.”
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to change your situation. Need some help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. “You can’t change a toxic boss,” says Salemi, “you can only change how you react to them.”
Listen to our podcast to hear more about how to deal with horrible bosses and how to find a great mentor.