When you love your job, but hate your boss, it can be tough. While you may look forward to doing your job every day, the thought of dealing with your boss is enough to make your morning latte curdle in your stomach.
It's often said that people don't leave jobs -- they leave bosses. That's certainly true when the the boss is an idiot, a jerk and a moron.
But what if you don't want to leave because you like the work, your colleagues -- even the customers? Can you stick it out?
Speaking from personal experience, it's not easy. If the boss is determined to make your life miserable, he or she will succeed to some degree. If the boss is just going through a rough patch (a divorce, for example), you might be able to stay in your job in the hopes things will get better (they often do).
First, know that you're not alone in your dilemma. Lots of people struggle with this issue.
Second, there are some things you can do to make a better evaluation of your situation and get a clearer idea of your options -- and help yourself feel better. You should:
- Write down the pros and cons. Research has shown that writing things down helps you gain clarity. Write down the good, bad and just plain ugly parts of your job and the impact the boss has on all those issues.
- Dissect the boss. OK, I do not mean this literally. But I do think you need to think about him or her objectively, such as assessing strengths and weaknesses. Are you learning anything from this boss? Does she give you new opportunities or at least get out of the way when necessary? Does he or she have the kinds of contacts that will be valuable for you to tap into? Is she known for helping team members get ahead?
- Get some perspective. Don't fall into the trap of holding a gripe fest every night after work with other people who hate your boss. Try connecting with others who have worked with him or her in some capacity, such as someone from another department or even another company. Don't air your gripes, but find ways to get them to talk about their experience with the boss. It could be you'll gain some kind of insight that will help you better work with your boss, or help you understand some of his motives.
- Be more observant. When you don't like your boss, every little thing he does gets on your last nerve. But instead of going ballistic when he sends you a curt email, try to observe his interactions with others. Does he seem to relax or communicate more freely with some people? Does he seem to warm up to others when they ask about his kids? Do they talk about sports, gardening or travel in a way that the boss seems to enjoy? These are clues that you can integrate some of these things into your conversations with the boss and possibly help your relationship improve. Remember, we're all more comfortable being around others who are like us, so the more you can make the boss comfortable with subjects he enjoys, the better it will be for you.
- Improve your communications. I was once on a radio show and a caller phoned in to complain that his boss was a pain because she wouldn't communicate with him. I asked the caller: "How best does your boss like to communicate? Through email or in person? Is she an introvert or an extrovert?" The caller said he had no clue. If you also don't know, now is the time to figure it out. Often, the biggest friction in any workplace situation surrounds communication . If you don't know how your boss best likes to communicate, find out. Taking responsibility for better understanding the boss could really pay off in improved relations.
- Follow the Golden Rule. I'm always surprised by how workers don't seem to think of the boss as a real person. They all go out for lunch -- and never invite her along. They ask "How was your weekend?" of co-workers -- but never ask the boss. They don't even say "Good morning" unless the boss speaks first. Sometimes you're so busy disliking your boss and being unfriendly or unkind to her that you end up making yourself more and more unhappy. Follow the Golden Rule and you might just find that you and your boss begin to get along.
Finally, if you've really made an effort to get along better with your boss but you're still miserable, it may be time to move on. Only you can judge whether a job is worth putting up with a bad boss. Just remember that when you're interviewing for new positions, don't make the mistake of working for the same kind of manager.