8 Tips for Handling a Bad Boss

You’ve heard it before: people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. A 2017 Gallup poll of more than 1 million US workers showed that the number one reason people quit, no matter how good the job, is a bad boss.

Working under an incompetent supervisor can leave you unmotivated and unproductive and have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. While the most obvious solution might be to quit, that’s not always an option, or at least not the only one.

Here are eight ways you can deal with a bad manager:

1. Put yourself in their shoes.

Understanding your boss and their values, priorities, concerns and motivations will make it easier for you to perform. When you communicate with them through that lens, they’re more likely to hear you.

2. Be a leader.

Your boss’s failure to meet the needs of their position or the company is a chance for you to shine. Step up to cover their slack without making a fuss about it; learn to work around their natural strengths and weaknesses. By being indispensable, you’ll build a path for your own success. And while you might not realize it, the right people will take notice, which could mean growth opportunities for you.

3. Take the high road.

Even if your boss isn’t on top of things, you should be. Stay engaged, complete assignments on time and remain calm and professional. If your boss is a bully, don’t fall into the same trap. Ask questions and try to diffuse the situation.

4. Speak up.

Before speaking out, formally or informally, weigh the consequences and consider the possible outcomes. If you think your boss is open to hearing your concerns, go to them. If things have reached an unbearable level and you’re thinking of going to HR or a superior, make sure you have evidence to back up your story.

5. Check your bias.

Ask yourself if your own bias has anything to do with your view on your boss. Also make sure you have all the information about them and their job; the more you know, the more empathetic you might be.

6. Put them in the driver’s seat.

Rather than telling your boss what’s wrong with them, put the power in their hands and tell them what you need to complete your job. Be specific with your requests, and if they can’t help, suggest an alternative whether it’s their peer or superior.

7. Watch your health.

Find ways to alleviate the stress of working with your manager. Talking to a friend, partner or mentor about what’s going on can offer both a release and a different perspective. And focus on the things you do like about your work. If it becomes too much, try transferring departments, requesting a different manager or even looking for a new job.

8. Think before jumping ship.

If you’ve reached your limit, think carefully before leaving the department or company. Research to make sure you’re not leaving one toxic boss for another.


Article authored by and containing the opinions of Starr Wright USA; this article is offered solely for informational purposes.

Starr Wright USA is a marketing name for Starr Wright Insurance Agency, Inc. and its affiliate(s). Starr Wright USA is an insurance agency specializing in insurance solutions for federal employees and federal contractors. For more information, visit WrightUSA.com. Starr Wright USA is a division of Starr Insurance Companies, which is a marketing name for the operating insurance and travel assistance companies and subsidiaries of Starr International Company, Inc. and for the investment business of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc.