Okay, so you figured out that your boss sucks. Now what? Dealing with a bad boss is tricky, but it isn’t necessarily impossible. Here are a few ways to cope if you have a bad boss—but remember that all bosses are different, and many are bad in their own ways, so your situation may vary.
1. Ask how you can help. Don’t ask your boss, “Why are you such a jerk all the time?” Instead, if she seems stressed, ask what you can do to ease her workload. She may end up unloading on you or at least appreciating your efforts a bit more.
2. Call her out politely. Request a meeting and bring up specific concerns that you have documented. “When you raised your voice at me in the meeting last week, I felt really uncomfortable. Can we work out a solution to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore?” Or, “I was really proud of the work I put into X, but I noticed when you talked about it to the CEO, my name didn’t come up. Does she know I did X, Y, and Z aspects?”
3. Don’t make yourself too available. If you don’t get paid overtime and don’t have a job that requires you to check email at 3 a.m., don’t do it. If someone continually harasses you off company time, reply only once and firmly: “I will address this on Monday when I am back in the office.”
4. Talk to human resources. If your boss doesn’t shape up or at least acknowledge the problems you’ve addressed, schedule a meeting with HR to hash things out. Ask how you can improve the situation—you’ll look more proactive and less whiny. Also know that if your boss tries to retaliate, that’s illegal.
5. Request a transfer. If you like your actual job, see if you can make a lateral move to another department or to report to someone else. Ask about the possibilities. Offer to chip in. You may feel better about your situation in general if you feel appreciated by someone, even if it’s not the specific person who signs your checks.
6. Start job hunting. If nothing changes, the toxicity may not stop with your specific bad boss. In that case, find a better offer elsewhere. Even just revamping your resume in preparation for an exit may make you feel better about your situation in general, because it reminds you that everything bothering you isn’t necessarily permanent.