Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, we find ourselves in a bad situation at work. Maybe it is a terrible manager or horrible bosses. Perhaps the job just isn’t as advertised in the job description. Or, maybe you’ve run right into a terrible company culture. No matter the reason, you probably feel frustrated, stressed — perhaps even trapped.
You are not alone. Which is why we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
Have you ever worked for a horrible boss/company? How did you handle it?
Here are their very helpful answers, each designed to help you deal with horrible bosses, jobs, and companies…
1. Focus on Learning
I’ve found that even at the worst jobs, there’s a lot to learn. Beyond this, working at an awful job is a great way to motivate yourself for a brighter future where you work for yourself and control your own destiny. I don’t recommend doing this for long periods. But I can recall one job that I hated but, for the few months I was there, I learned as much as I could and planned my next moves.
2. Take Up a Hobby While You Plot Your Next Move
While the obvious answer is to look for a way out, and you should, it doesn’t solve the problem your current horrible boss predicament. As you plot your next move, take up a hobby that excites you. Many of us look for happiness in work but sources outside of your cubicle — painting, spinning, dance class — can bring you joy, and give you something to look forward to, in the meantime.
3. Leave While You Can
I was once at a company that, though they treated me well, wasn’t as kind to my co-workers. After watching talented, hard-working people that I respect being let-go, I decided to quit. No matter the pay, I can’t support a company that doesn’t value those people that made them who they are. And who is to say eventually they wouldn’t have come for my job, too?
4. Find Common Ground
We’ve all worked for someone we may disagree with from time to time. The last time I was in that situation, I tried to understand where they were coming from and then find common ground that could bridge our working relationship to make our job easier and healthier. Sometimes all you need is a little understanding to on both ends to work things out.
5. Stay Committed
My first professional job after undergrad was incredible until the founder left. The new executive — who was not educated on the issues, processes or programs — led to the entire team quitting. I stayed through it all and eventually was recruited to be the youngest executive director in the history of a large child welfare organization. You can do hard things until something better comes along.
6. Anticipate and Observe
I worked for a boss in manufacturing for a while who fit this description. While working under him, I made it a goal to learn as much from him and from my surroundings as possible. My secondary goal was to stay out of his way. Work went more smoothly when I anticipated issues before they reached him, and this skill has helped to hone not only my intuition but also my observational skills.
7. Face the Boss Head On
I once had a boss who was horrific to his entire staff. Even when he was “friendly”, he was belittling us. So one day, I gathered the staff and we, at the same time, went into his office and confronted him. I don’t think he wanted to believe he was a problem, but when an entire office shows up at your door, it means something. He was better for a bit, but in the end, I left.
8. Establish Boundaries
Bad bosses can happen to good people. Frustration with your boss’s ability, management style, or treatment of you are all areas that you cannot directly control. Your attitude is something you can control. Learning to be selfish and establish boundaries so that poison at work doesn’t pollute your home life is critical to maintaining your sanity.
9. Develop Your Conflict Management Skills
We’ve all had that one boss that kept us running at a simmer, ready to boil over with any added pressure or heat. The silver lining is to realize that if you can learn to tame a bad boss, then you are properly equipped to handle all of the difficult, demanding and downright dreadful people that you will inevitably stumble across in your professional career. A bad boss is a blessing, not a curse.
10. Improve Communications
In business, poor communication often leads to unmet expectations, leaving the employer and employee frustrated, often blaming one another. Be the better communicator, be explicit about deadlines, don’t over-commit, manage up. Back up all key decisions with email so they can not be later challenged. Learn when to say “no”. Still a problem? Maybe find a new job where those skills are respected.
11. Look for Places to Grow
Even in a bad situation, there are always opportunities to grow. Even if you and your boss aren’t on the same page, being able to take a step back and identify opportunities to learn and grow while tying them back to personal goals can still produce a positive out of a negative situation. If after performing this exercise there is still nothing, then it might be time to move on.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched Business Collective. This free virtual mentorship program helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.