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Having a bad boss can be one of the worst things that ever happens to you.

You spend so much time at work and so much time interacting with your boss, that having a bad relationship can literally ruin your life.

The effects from the stress and annoyance that comes from having a bad boss can cause serious damage.

Most of us have had the unfortunate luck of having at least one bad boss in our lifetime, and hopefully you’re lucky enough to not have that anymore.

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.Steve Jobs

It sucks to think about how many people have to suffer with a bad boss. When you try and think of the number, it’s quite shocking.

We’re talking about millions of people that hate going into work because of one other person that they can’t get along with.

At the end of the day, it comes down to respect.

For a number of reasons, managers don’t trust or respect the people that are working under them. This lack of respect/trust leads them to treat their employees in a way that they shouldn’t be treated.

Constantly checking in on them, undermining them, not sharing knowledge, etc.

What a waste of time and energy.

In this post, we’ll look at the research behind why having a bad boss is so bad for you, signs of a bad boss, and then what you can do if you’re stuck with a bad boss.


The Effects Of Having A Bad Boss

The effects of having a bad boss are huge.

Research has shown that it leads to both mental and physical health problems.

  1. Managers Have The Biggest Impact

    The first, and arguably most important piece of research when it comes to having a bad boss is the fact that Gallup found that managers account for 70%1 of the variance in employee engagement scores.

    The reason this is such a huge deal is how big of an engagement problem there is in today’s workplace.

    Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged, costing billions of dollars in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.

    Since managers account for such a huge portion of that engagement, it’s no wonder why having a bad boss is such a big deal.

    Besides the emotional, mental, and physical effects of a bad boss, there are massive financial effects too.

  2. Managers Don’t Care

    Managers are obviously not creating the type of environments where employees enjoy coming to work.

    They just don’t care. Research has shown that 65% of managers are “checked out” at work2.

    So you have managers that are checked out, not giving their full attention to employees, and employees that are overworked, stressed, and disengaged because of their managers.

    Something needs to happen and soon.

  3. Employees Don’t Enjoy Being With Them

    Psychologist Daniel Kahneman measured happiness levels of people throughout the day, looking at which events made people the most happy or unhappy.

    He found that of any event anyone experienced during the day, spending time with their boss was the thing that made them the most unhappy3.

  4. Employees Quit Their Managers

    We’ve all heard the expression that people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. It turns out, this problem is much bigger than we might think.

    In a study by Gallup, they found that 50% of the 7,200 adults surveyed left a job “to get away from their manager.”

  5. Bad Bosses Can Be Bad For Your Health

    In a 2009 study, looking at the effects of managers on the health of 3,122 men, men who rated their managers as good (considerate, provides feedback, gives autonomy) had at least a 20 percent lower risk of developing heart disease over a 10-year period than those who rated their managers negatively.4

Signs Of A Bad Boss

Everyone knows a bad boss when they see one, but here are a few key signs to look out for to tell if you have a bad boss or not:

  • Micromanaging
  • Not giving feedback
  • Not giving praise
  • Picking favorites
  • Ignoring employees
  • Not showing you genuinely care
  • Not helping employees develop
  • Being unpredictable

Research is starting to show that the most important sign on this list is being unpredictable.

A new study5 from Michigan State University finds that employees would prefer a consistently unfair boss to someone that is unpredictable.

That uncertainty is too much to handle. At least if a boss is consistently mean employees know what to expect.

How To Handle A Bad Boss

The most important thing to realize is that you can’t change who they are, you can only change how you respond to them.

Writing something like “just quit your job” is likely easier said than done. You can’t just get up and quit if you don’t like your manager.

Here are a few tips you can use to deal with your bad boss.

  1. Set Clear Goals

    Setting clear goals with your boss will help you remove confusion about whether you’re doing your job well or not.

    In Gallup’s survey that I mentioned earlier about 50% of employees quitting, one of the biggest takeaways was that employees were given little guidance for understanding what’s expected of them.

  2. Communicate A Lot

    One tip is to communicate with your boss a lot. If you don’t enjoy being around your boss, you could communicate by email, but keeping your boss in the loop on what’s going on will make them less likely to micromanage you.

    Many times, confusion comes from a lack of communication. The more you communicate, the less chances there are to have that confusion.

  3. Stand Up For Yourself

    Research from Ohio State University found that employees that stood up for themselves at work felt better about their jobs than employees that kept quiet when things were bothering them.

    You don’t have to be mean about it, even the act of consciously ignoring a bad boss’s criticism led to increased happiness.

  4. Improve Yourself

    Learn how to let go and shift your energy away from work and onto yourself.

    Use your free time to meditate, exercise, read, any activity that will help you improve your own life.

  5. Swallow Your Pride

    Even if you’re “smarter” than your boss, there’s no need to rub it in their face.

    Swallow your pride, understand that they might have other things going on in their lives, and just try to find a way to work together.

    If they need to take credit for your work to make themselves feel better about something, let them. There’s no need to waste your energy getting upset over that.


Any Bad Boss Stories To Tell?

Let us know in the comments below!