How to survive working for a bad boss

We’ve all had one. And most of us have lived to tell the tale. If you’re currently grappling with a boss that’s a micromanager, a bully, a passive-aggressive junkie or a missing-in-action rumour, take heart. According to the Wall Street Journal, there’s a lot that you can do to improve your situation.


Read on to learn how to survive, change, leave or overthrow your particular brand of bad boss.


– The micromanager

This type of boss needs constant reassurance that work will get done well by someone who cares as much as they do. Tell them you share their sense of urgency and understand exactly what needs to be done, right down to the tiniest detail. Flood them with information before they even ask for it. Share frequent status updates and your daily to-do list. You’ll gain their trust in the process and, over time, they’ll eventually loosen their grip.

– The missing in action (MIA) boss

A manager who ignores your questions or is missing when you need them is bad for your cholesterol and your career. You’ll need to take the lead pronto. Book a series of meetings (more than you need because they’re likely to cancel half of them), have a clear agenda and ensure you cover all items quickly, using your boss’s favourite communication tool. If your boss prefers face-to-face updates, keep a list of items requiring their input on you at all times, in case the opportunity presents itself.

Cover your back. When you’re finishing a big project, send your boss an email the day before it’s due, giving them a deadline for their input on your attached draft. Reach out to managers that you admire for advice and possibly mentorship to ensure your learning and career don’t stagnate.

– The toxic whirlwind

If your boss is toxic, it’s in the interests of the whole company to reform or fire them. Document cases of their offending misbehaviour and its impact. Save their criminal emails. Record the date, time and nature of incidents. Convince your peers to do the same. Update your CV and proceed to state your case en groupe. There’s a good chance, but no guarantee, that your mutiny will have a successful outcome.

So there’s lots that you can do to turn around a bad boss situation. If none of the above helps but you like your company in general, consider changing departments. But if you think only new pastures offer the solution, be sure to do your research before jumping ship. Check on LinkedIn to see if lots of people have recently left. Tap into your network for honest feedback on your potential future colleagues. Find out what happened to the person who used to be in your role.

ABL, the UK’s leading multilingual recruitment agency, would like to add one more piece of advice to the list. If you decide it’s time to move on, do not underestimate the importance of working with a professional recruitment expert. Getting an honest view of the role, team and company that you’re considering joining is vital to making a smart, well-informed decision. Please get in touch to brainstorm the options!