A Good Way to Handle a Bad Boss

Author: Casey Gale       

Is a bad boss making your job a nightmare? It’s time to sit them down for a talk, according to author Mary Abbajay.

Unless you are an independent business-event strategist who acts as your own boss, you have probably encountered a bad boss or two in your career. You might even be dealing with one right now. As much as having a poor supervisor might make you feel like quitting your job on certain days (fact: nearly half of Americans actually have quit a job because of a difficult superior), it’s important to “work with the boss you have, not the boss you want,” according to Mary Abbajay.

The organizational consultant and author of Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work and Succeed with Any Type of Boss was interviewed for a recent New York Times article “Ghosts, Sea Gulls, and Incompetents: How to Deal with Bad Bosses,” where Abbajay explained the different types of difficult bosses: There are ghost bosses who rarely communicate and are never around; sea gull bosses who are a little too hands-on when it comes to their employees’ projects; and incompetent bosses — which is self-explanatory.

Regardless of what category your superior fits into — or if they are some mixture of the three — Abbajay suggests it is easy to strengthen your relationship with them by sitting down and asking them three simple questions:

  • What are your preferences in terms of how you like to communicate?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What are your pet peeves?

A “ghost boss” might just trust your judgement and not feel the need to get involved with your day-to-day duties. A “sea gull boss” might be trying to help you but doesn’t know how. Asking these questions, Abbajay said, can help clear up these misunderstandings. “Understand that whenever we see behavior in someone that isn’t what we want,” Abbajay said, “we tend to make up a story about why they’re doing these things.”

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