A great boss can make your job so much more enjoyable and fulfilling. They can double as a confidant, mentor, friend, etc. Overall great bosses teach their employees many useful things, some of those things typically being outside the scope of a specific position or department, and put their employees on a path to success. But what do you do if you are fully aware that you do not have a great boss? What do you do if you have a horrible boss? Or if you’ve been newly hired and you get the feeling your boss is horrible but don’t want to spend years confirming it for certain? The good news is that there are strategies you can use to address this situation because there many other people who have been in similar situations but are not anymore.
The first thing consultants and HR experts advise is to have the right mindset related to your boss and properly evaluate the situation. Broadly grouping your boss into either “good” or “bad,” or “great” and “horrible” is not nearly as effective as putting them on a spectrum compared to multiple other bosses (aka supervisors, managers, etc), typically at the same organization. To do this however, it means you would need to have some information about the other bosses’ management style, which you can gather first hand by observing it yourself or second hand by asking the employees underneath that boss (or both). Does the boss listen to employee feedback? Are they honest and trustworthy? Do they support their employees when they need to? These are some examples of things that consultants and HR experts say employees are looking for in bosses on the “great” end of the spectrum.
Next comes evaluating where you stand in relation to your boss. If your boss has none or few of the key qualities, you have 2 main options: you either stay in the position you’re in or you move (either transferring within the company or going to another company). If you stay, it is helpful to try to adapt to your bosses’ lacking qualities to minimize potential negative effects. Depending on a particular situation, an employee may even opt to be 100% straightforward with their boss about what they believe is lacking in hopes their boss will either change or self-minimize negative effects.
If it turns out your boss has all of the key characteristics, but there is still friction, it is possible that your styles of doing work are just too different. You have the same 2 options mentioned previously but it may be worth it to put more emphasis on staying in your position and adapting your work style; seeing it as an opportunity to grow and become a better employee.