Lindsay Olson

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6 Lessons to Learn from a Bad Boss

We’ve all had them or heard of them: The boss who only cares about himself, the boss who is never pleased, the boss who yells constantly, the boss who takes credit for everyone else’s work, the boss who just stresses his whole team out.

You could, of course, quit your job, but there’s no guarantee that your next boss won’t be just as “difficult”. Better to try to benefit from these lessons a bad boss can teach you.

1. There are All Kinds of Bosses

While certainly, you’d prefer to have the kind of boss you want to drink margaritas with after work, this isn’t always going to be your reality. Having a bad boss can teach you that there are many types of managers — and people, for that matter. Knowing how to please, say, a chronically grumpy boss, can help you any time you encounter a person (at work or otherwise) who is hard to please.

2. Smart People Don’t Always Make Good Managers

Just because someone has spent decades in a field doesn’t make that person necessarily adept at managing other people and leading by example. In other words, for some people, experience doesn’t always translate into good management skills.

3. You Could Do His Job

Whether your boss is a rock star or a troll, you can learn a lot by observing. You can see what skills being a manager at your company requires (even if your boss is sorely lacking them), and you can chart your own plan to climb the ladder and become a manager yourself one day.

4. Bad Bosses are People Too

While you’d love to throw darts at a photo of your boss, you have to admit: he’s human. He also has many other pressures on the job that you don’t need to deal with daily. Sometimes it’s good to recognize that and give him a break.

5. You Know What Not to Do

If you’re taking notes about how to be a good manager, your boss is providing an entire list of what not to do. Ask yourself how you would handle a given situation better, and store that information away for future use.

6. You Don’t Have to Take a Bad Boss Home

While nearly all of us are guilty of taking home our work day with us and complaining to friends or family, you don’t have to. You only have to deal with your bad boss for 8 or so hours a day. Don’t let him consume additional space in your brain.

You can’t always get out of a job with a sub-par manager, but if you turn the experience around into a life lesson, you’ll take away nuggets that will make you a better employee.

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Interesting links: December 22 - January 4

Here are some of the interesting links I've come across in the past couple of weeks. It's lighter than usual. I'm still playing lots of catch up from spending much less time online and more time with family and friends. Enjoy!

Career

Twitter Yourself a Job - Wall Street Journal
5 ways to fix your job search - US News & World Report
How to Rally Workers for a Tough 2009 - Wall Street Journal
Using the Social Web to Find Work | chrisbrogan.com - Free e-book by Chris Brogan about using your social networks to aid in your job search.
How to Write an Email that Generates a Useful Response - Penelope Trunk

Personal

10 Volunteer Opportunities For Free Travel - just in case, always good to have a plan B
TweetShrink -have trouble writing 140 characters or less? This might be for you.

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When Your Friend Becomes Your Boss

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Photo credit: Olli Siebelt

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about when your friend becomes your boss. In the PR agency world, this happens very often. Your friend is a Sr. Account Executive at a new agency and calls you up about the new position on his team. Before you know it, he got the promotion and you're reporting to him.

According to WSJ, people who have close friendships with their bosses are twice as likely to be satisfied with their job. Great news! But nobody said this transition is easy. The friendship will change inside and outside of work and it will definitely present its challenges at first.

In addition to the article's tips, I would add:

Acknowledge the change and keep your expectations reasonable. Realize the relationship will have to change in some way. Allow time for both of you to adjust. It's reasonable to expect communication in front of peers to change and daily luncheons to be put on the backburner for other work priorities. Don't expect to freely share work information as you may have in the past.

Set boundaries with each other. Keep business talk in the office and if you have to approach the boss (or vice versa) about work matters, do so during business hours just as in any other boss/staff situation.

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