Make us your home page
Jobs | Managing up

How to cope with a bad boss

DETROIT — Bad bosses. We've all had at least one. Hey, you may actually even be one. And tough economic times make bad bosses seem even worse.

Many bosses are stressed to the max because they have to produce more with fewer people and limited resources. So whatever bad behavior and irritating habits they have — be it a hair-trigger temper or a disorganized managing style — can be exacerbated.

"In times of stress, we return to our worst orientation," says Katherine Crowley, a Harvard-trained psychotherapist who studies how people work together.

And you know what, dear beleaguered underlings? That notion applies to you, too.

"If I'm an employee who tends to confront or retaliate, I'll tend to do so more when I'm under stress and interact with my boss," says Crowley. "My behavior is worse, too."

So everyone should just take a deep breath.

Crowley and Kathi Elster, an executive coach, are the co-authors of Working for You Isn't Working for Me (Portfolio, $25.95).

"The boss may seem worse because fear is so prevalent and the environment is much more suspicious," says Crowley. "We may be interpreting our boss' behavior through a darker lens, such as why did he go to the meeting without me, and why wasn't I included in that e-mail?"

In their book, Crowley and Elster lay out several ways to cope. "Our automatic coping mechanism is not good, since usually we want to retaliate or wish for their demise," says Elster.

The authors stress the need for employees to develop their lives away from the office. That means setting aside time for exercise and meditation, or engaging in recreation with family and friends, or pursuing a volunteer activity.

"You're proving yourself competent in other areas, so the boss doesn't have that much power over you," says Elster.

More advice

Write down your successes every day. "Even if it starts with something as simple as getting to work on time," Elster says.

Share the credit. Make sure you give co-workers and your boss credit for what you're able to accomplish. If you have a boss who's threatened by your smarts and prowess, they'll feel less threatened if you direct some praise their way, says Elster.

Detach emotionally. If you have a yeller boss, imagine you're watching a bad movie. "You don't start defending, excusing or explaining, because somebody in that state is not available for a conversation. Instead, just start taking notes as they're yelling. If there are issues to address, do it later."

How to cope with a bad boss 12/14/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2009 5:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Detroit Free Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  2. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  3. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  4. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]
  5. Cooking passion spurs owner to pull open AJ's Kitchen Drawer


    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2016, AJ Albrecht spent four months traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.

    AJs Kitchen Drawer offers a wide variety of unique kitchenware items, such as handcrafted knives and wooden items, as well as local gourmet products. Photo by Danielle Hauser