Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

6 Ways to Deal With a Bad Manager That Don't Involve Quitting

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We’ve all been in a position where we feel our superiors aren’t handling things correctly. It could be that your direct supervisor isn’t managing your schedule efficiently or isn’t using you to your full potential. It could be that your CEO has a concerning new vision for the company’s future. It could be that your manager isn’t treating you and your peers on equal ground.

Poor and ineffective management come in many forms, and all of them can wear on you professionally. When you deal with these habits daily, it’s only natural to want a change, but many people immediately resort to the final option: quitting and looking for a new job.

There’s no question about it; some workplaces are toxic, and downright hostile, and in these cases the only logical option is to pursue a different opportunity. But in most cases, ineffective management can be dealt with, and you can keep your job without having to tolerate it further.

1. Look at the Situation Objectively

Your first step is to try and objectively analyze the situation. You may feel that your boss has directly insulted or offended you, but one incident doesn’t necessarily mean your boss is an ineffective manager. Everybody makes mistakes and has weaknesses, so it’s rarely worth taking action over one irritating incident.

It’s also possible you’re taking things too personally. If you find your boss is giving you lots of negative feedback, it may be his or her way of trying to help you grow as a professional. On the other hand, it could be an unfair or unproductive means of evaluation. Try to step back from the situation to see if there really is a pattern. Talk to your friends and family about the situation, focusing only on the facts, and see what they think. You can also reach out to other co-workers you trust—but remember that gossip can only do harm. If you determine that your manager is objectively taking bad or counterproductive actions, you can start taking action.

2. Talk to Your Boss Directly

Your first step must be speaking with your boss directly. Do not ignore the problem. Do not go above your manager’s head. Do not adopt a passive-aggressive attitude. All of these measures are counterproductive. Instead, schedule a meeting with your manager and tell him or her exactly how you feel about the situation.

When you initiate this, be careful not to criticize your manager harshly or personally. Instead, focus on your professional needs and how he or she is or isn’t fulfilling them. Describe specific events to illustrate your points, and listen to what your manager has to say about them. In most cases, you’ll find your manager can illuminate these situations with an alternative perspective, and your manager will be more than willing to make adjustments in the future.

If you find your manager is unwilling to talk about the problem, or is unreceptive to your requests for change, you’ll need to find an alternate route.

3. Avoid Making Ultimatums

Throughout the course of your discussion and even in the back of your own mind, avoid making ultimatums or becoming fixated on one solution. For example, saying to yourself, “If he doesn’t stop demanding me to be here half an hour early, I’m going to quit,” can distract your attention from the root of the problem and can prevent you from making other meaningful changes. Threatening to quit in front of your manager or in front of others can also make you appear unprofessional and weaken your overall position. Instead, try to keep an open mind.

4. Find Compromises

There is always more than one solution to a problem. In the above example, a manager is demanding his or her staff to arrive half an hour early every day when it isn’t necessary. To the worker, eliminating this practice altogether may seem like the obvious solution. However, finding a compromise can help your manager understand and compensate for your objections without completely disrupting his or her original vision. For example, maybe coming in 10 minutes early is plenty, or maybe you can come in half an hour early for two days out of the week.

This is a simple example, but what’s important to remember is that compromises are always available to those willing to search for them.

5. Speak to Others Who Can Help

If your direct conversation didn’t happen, if it didn’t help, and none of your compromises are panning out, don’t hesitate to go to someone else in the company for some extra assistance. Your manager’s supervisor or your HR Director shouldn’t be your first stop, but if you’ve made a serious effort for positive change with no results, these people can help drive a more meaningful change. Your identity can be kept confidential, and these superiors can help oversee a process that targets and corrects the destructive behavior.

6. Escalate Your Actions

If none of these options work and upper management isn’t taking your complaints seriously enough, escalate your actions at the ground level. Gather your peers, co-workers, and other managers to discuss the problem and petition for a change. Many voices have more power than one voice, and if you’re having a problem with a manager, chances are someone else is too.

Put these strategies to use if you’re currently dealing with ineffective management in your position. After consistent use, you may find that they aren’t of any help; if this is the case, it’s likely in your best interest to move on to a new opportunity. However, you may find that these strategies negate, improve, or lessen the impact of those nasty managerial habits, leaving you to better enjoy and execute your daily work.

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