Please note that i’m simply going for a sexy headline and that i don’t have anyone in particular in mind here. It’s just that, well, maybe i know some people who can use some good advice in this regard. And i’ve been working on some writing ideas that touch on similar themes… so here it is…

What to do when your boss sucks

Let’s be honest. People are the worst part of your job. The people you work with have a tremendous impact on whether or not you enjoy yourself each day. During the interview process, salary is negotiated and you get a general feel for what tasks will be required of you from day to day, but the people… that’s the real wildcard, am I right?

Further complicating this dilemma, studies show that the absolute worst offenders are most likely to get promoted to management positions. (I may have fabricated that study, but it often seems to be case). It may be a power hungry dictator-type personality or someone who simply doesn’t have a clue, but one way or another, they got promoted ahead of you. Now, not only do you have to figure out how to tolerate these coworkers, but you have to appease, respect, and report to them.

If you ever find yourself in this situation – and I think we all have at one point or another – you may wonder what to do about it. Well, most people will say to grin and bear it, or just simply deal with it. You can complain, argue, or stew about it if you really want to, but that will more than likely just make things worse. So below are seven practical steps to dealing with bad management in a productive and helpful way.

1. BREATHE: You are without a doubt in one of the most frustrating positions life has to offer. It’s easy to let that frustration take root and usurp your ability to focus. This only complicates matters and makes you more likely to say things you don’t mean or will quickly regret.

2. BE SLOW TO SPEAK: Words have a certain power to them. When you speak out quickly, chances are, you just said something you will regret (probably because you didn’t breathe first). This will deteriorate what little ground you have to stand on. Choose your words carefully and only speak when necessary. This goes double for any written communication. Don’t send that fiery email on its way. In fact, don’t even type it up. That “send” button is just too, too tempting.

3. FIND THE BIG PICTURE: Ripples always start somewhere and it’s often safe to assume the turbulence you’re currently experiencing has more to do with something beyond your day-to-day line of sight. Look at the forest instead of the trees. What does that mean? Try to understand the root cause of your frustrations. It may be your manager, but it also may be something else. It may also be a fleeting problem that will disappear in time.

4. FIND THE SMALL PICTURE: Make sure you (and others) understand your place in the scenery. Find your boundaries and fill them out. Later, you can worry about extending them, but for now, understand where you belong and what belongs to you. It’s easy to complain, but if you complain enough about other people instead of fulfilling your role on the job, chances are someone else is complaining about you, too.

5. CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You may not be able to stop the clouds from forming overhead, but you can grab an umbrella and keep things dry. Do the things you’re supposed to do. Do them well. Do them consistently. If you aren’t handling your business, maybe that’s why your boss treats you like a jerk. Maybe not, but why provide the ammunition that can later be used against you. This also includes your actions, words, and attitudes.

6. CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES: Find things to be happy about. Even in the direst of circumstances, even if you don’t get any credit for them, there’s always something to celebrate. Especially when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Your manager might not realize this, but their success depends on your success. Each victory you accomplish make them look good. You’ll slowly get their attention and make them realize that you’re good for business. Eventually, it will all add up. You may need to (subtly) make certain to pass that celebration on up the chain to help gain visibility from the top.

7. BE READY TO MOVE ON: Not usually ideal. And most people actually get sick just thinking about looking for a new job. Change is a pain and, in this job market, you certainly don’t want to tempt fate, right? Well, sometimes you have to pack it up and move on. I certainly don’t recommend jumping to this step without putting forth your best effort at the first six, but I certainly can’t stop you. I will say this though: Chances are, your next boss will suck, too. I’m just saying.

peace… love… bdg…