Ask an Expert WORKPLACE / JUN. 01, 2017
version 6, draft 6

Help! How can I deal with a bad boss?

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Dilemma:

I'm a young graduate who has recently secured a grad position at a wonderful and well-established company. My issue is that my boss is absolutely horrible. Think Miranda Priestley. I have no idea how to deal with someone like this, and not take it personally that she thinks I'm doing a bad job (even if I am trying my best). Please help! What should a graduate, fresh out of university do in this situation? Thank you! #overworked

Kyriaki says:

Hey there! Landing a job so quickly is a good sign, and you should be happy about that! Not every graduate is lucky enough to find a job so soon, and this means that you are ready for work. Of course having a boss who is as evil as Miranda Priestley is very unfortunate and can easily ruin even the best job. In fact, judging from how Miranda treats Andy in The Devil Wears Prada, you must be going through hell.

From what you are saying, I get the sense that you like your job but you are not as happy as you hoped for because of your boss’s attitude. Now, I do understand your frustration, but I believe that if you want this situation to change, you will have to be willing to do something about it. That is if you still want to give it a try with the company, which sounds like it’s a nice place to work.

While the main barrier to your job happiness is one person, she also happens to be your boss. Talking to her might solve the problem, but if she is anything like Miranda, I am pretty sure that won’t be effective. If she is interrupting you whenever you try to speak, bossing you around and thinks everything you say is an excuse, talking to her is going to be difficult.

If that’s the case, then you need to think of another solution. What you need to do is try to gain your boss’s trust and respect. But how to do that? That’s easy. Learn from Andy’s mistakes and try the following:

  1. Separate personal and work life: don’t bring your personal problems to work. Prove to your boss that you can manage any workload you are given, but that she also needs to accept your own boundaries.
  2. Don’t talk back to your boss: no matter how bad the situation is, don’t complain. It’s never polite, but you certainly want to avoid annoying the person who signs your paychecks.
  3. Dress professionally for the job: show that you care about your role, don’t leave anything to chance, and demonstrate genuine interest in anything that has to do with it.
  4. Bring your best ideas to work: don’t hide behind your counter. Own your voice, give your opinion and don’t worry if you get negative feedback. This shows your creativity and that you are giving your best.
  5. Be one step ahead: know what your boss wants before she does. If you learn what your boss needs, you will be able to do everything at the right time, pace and place. This way you can maintain peak performance and get on well with your boss.
  6. Always be prepared: when you are going to meetings, make sure that you have done your part and prepared everything you need. This is the recipe to impress.
  7. Get to know the key people in the industry: you either want to stay in that field, or you don’t because you don’t care. Show your boss that you are up to date with what’s going on in the industry and that you know who is who in the industry.

Your boss might not actually think that you are doing a bad job. Quite the contrary, she might see potential in you, and be grooming you for a higher position with greater responsibility. Perhaps this is the reason why she is being soo hard on you. Have you ever thought of that possibility?

I hope that these few tips can improve the situation you found yourself in. In the meantime, you can check out the following articles to help you out:

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