Tips that Will Help You Survive Working for a Bad Boss

A full-time employee will spend around 2,080 hours at work each year. However, that time can seem even longer if you must also deal with a bad boss. Quitting your job is not always the answer, but we do have a few suggestions for dealing with toxic management.


Determining exactly what triggers you is the first step toward resolving any issues. Take some time to think about what your boss is doing (or not doing) that is causing you stress. Make a list of concerns and possible solutions, then set up a time to talk about them face to face. But make sure those items on your list are work-related and not solely personality issues.


Meet with your boss one-on-one to discuss your issues. Do so respectfully without making any personal accusations. At this stage, you should assume your supervisor is unaware that he or she is coming across in the wrong way.

Offer the solutions you’ve come up with and be open to any new ideas your boss might present. After agreeing on a plan of action, schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss whether or not things have improved.

Establish Boundaries

There’s always a chance your meeting may not go as planned. In fact, confronting a toxic supervisor can sometimes make things worse and not better. Should that happen, your only recourse may be to establish boundaries. For example, you might need to avoid taking on more work or refuse to answer your cell phone outside of working hours.

When establishing boundaries, it’s important to do so tactfully. Say things like, “I’m afraid I can’t possibly take on this assignment right now,” or “I’m sorry, but weekends are for my family.” Do not become argumentative or refuse orders. And if your employer does not respect your limitations, you’ll need to move on to the next step.

Document Everything

A boss who feels challenged may sometimes double down on toxic behavior. When that happens, what started out as annoying can quickly turn abusive. Documenting any harassing and abusive behavior could prove useful should you need to file an EO complaint. Whenever possible, communicate via email or text message, and make written accounts of any in-person conversations you do have.

Don’t Gossip

It can be very tempting to bad-mouth your boss, especially if other co-workers are also experiencing the same issues. Even so, you should avoid “venting” to others about your problems. It won’t do much to change the situation and could actually make things worse if your supervisor ever got wind of what you were saying.

Decide on an Exit Strategy

Despite your best efforts, salvaging the relationship with your employer may not be possible. In that case, it could be best to devise an exit strategy instead. This can involve more than just finding another job. You’ll need to consider benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and 401(k).

You’ll probably feel tempted to slack off or call out more often once you start looking for another job. However, you should avoid the temptation to do so. Continue putting forth your best effort so you can leave in good standing. It might seem like you would never want to return, but you should avoid burning that bridge anyway, just in case.

Choosing the Right Employer

Good managers know the importance of carefully handling their payroll and benefits, so keep that in mind when looking for a new position. And if your current employer is not utilizing our services, ask him or her to contact us for a consultation.