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How to Thrive and Survive When You Work for a Bad Boss

Let’s face it, we all have worked for a bad boss.  It doesn’t, however, need to be total misery every day. 



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Being a good leader of others matters now more than ever.  Great leaders have regular one-on-ones with their staff, they give and seek feedback, they set goals, and communicate progress regularly.  Yet, nearly all of us have worked for a bad leader: someone who doesn’t have time for us, always has a “better” way of doing an assigned task, creates last minute emergency work for the team, and have limited availability to speak with us about project work, or more importantly our career.

Adam Grant, a renown organizational psychologist at Wharton Business school reminds us, “bad bosses keep people stuck in the same job; good bosses create opportunities to grow and advance.”  Statistics from 2022 research at DDI, a leadership consulting firm, found that 57% of employees who leave their jobs, leave because they can’t stand their boss.  

Forbes recently identified four key behaviors bad bosses demonstrate that encourage employees to leave their job:  they diminish employees by micromanaging them, they don’t solicit employee input, they encourage agreement while discouraging dissent, and they can’t be bothered to remove obstacles.  

Further, reports that forty-seven percent of new supervisors receive no supervisor training before being promoted. And, according to the Corporate Executive Board, sixty percent of new managers fail within their first 24 months.

I remember one bad boss I had.  The signs were there before I started:  interviews kept getting rescheduled, even after I showed up! The offer was weeks in making and wrong when I received it.  My manager loved being in charge, but he didn’t want to do the work that came with it.  He rarely spent time with any of us individually because he was too busy billing client hours. 

“You are not your resume, you are your work.” — Seth Godin

He handed off work that was uninteresting and low profile.  One time, he wanted to represent my work at another firm as work of his own.  Needless to say, I left after 9 months.  

I start my leadership programs by asking participants to think of a great leader they’ve worked for.  What did they do that was so compelling?  Inevitably, someone says, “what if you never worked for a good boss?”  Everyone laughs, but sadly it’s true!  Why?  Most likely it’s because organizations don’t take time to develop their aspiring leaders.  

So, you feel stuck.  You work for one of these bad managers, yet you enjoy your work and connect to the company’s mission.  Below are some tips for working with a difficult, even bad manager. These allow you to get you through the experience and continue to learn for yourself along the way.

Take the lead yourself. 

All employees deserve regular interactions with their employees.  These interactions can’t only focus on the work and tasks at hand, they must also focus on you.  Here’s a simple framework for a 1:1 with your boss:  Describe how you’re doing and your well-being.  If you feel constantly overworked, say so.  

Share recent accomplishments.  Discuss what you learned and what you’d do differently next time.  Discuss your challenges and describe ways you can address them, ask your manager to help.  Agree on next steps.  

If this isn’t happening regularly, take the lead.  Schedule 30 minutes with your manager every other week.  Be prepared and send a list of topics like the ones above.  

Find a stress outlet.  

Work out, spend time in nature, work on a hobby, create art, journal, meditate – whatever it takes to keep yourself grounded. Self-care is essential.

Don’t go it alone.  

Find a group of people you can safely talk to about the situation so you can stay sane while trying to make things work. For those who need to talk things out, having a safe place to do so is critical.  Consider talk therapy.  Sometimes it’s not only your manager’s problem; you might be experiencing a rough patch in your life and difficult interactions with your boss make it worse.  

Most employers have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) included in their benefits.  The resources they recommend are usually covered by your benefit plan and your conversation with them will be completely confidential.  

Be clear about your goals.  

You work with someone who isn’t particularly supportive and even difficult, so take a moment to describe for yourself why you like your job.  You are a smart and capable person, but even the best of the best can be beaten down by tough situations and tough people. 

Avoid fighting so hard and long that you lose who you are in the process.  What are you learning from it?  Even if you work for a bad boss but are learning every day and doing engaging work, the bad boss can be tolerable.  

Find a mentor inside your organization.  

Mentors are usually more senior than you and in a different department.  They understand the politics of the organization and “how we do things here.”  Their insight may help you understand your own manager better. Avoid complaining about your manager to your mentor; it’s just bad form.  

Instead, focus on your aspirations.  Your mentor may even suggest other roles in the organization that you could pursue.  While most senior leaders love to mentor, they won’t reach out to you, so you need to reach out to them.  

Talk to HR if it gets too bad.  

Foul language, sexual innuendos, or just not being available are never acceptable behaviors.  Talk to HR about your challenges.  If you are experiencing a bad boss, most likely others have too.  They will keep your information confidential, but most likely not tell you what actions they might take, because these are confidential issues too.  

Find another role in the company.  

You love the company, but hate your boss?  Seek out other roles inside the company.  Some organizations require you to work in a role for a year before seeking another role so that may limit your options.  You are far better off, however, staying at the company you know than moving to another that you don’t know.  

Know when to cut bait. 

There may come a time when you have had enough. That is OK. This does not make you a quitter; it makes you a survivor. Update your LinkedIn profile; let others find you.  Interact on LinkedIn regularly by finding new connections in organizations you admire. 

Remember:  you don’t have to take a job just because it’s offered to you!  Getting that offer may give you peace of mind to know you have value in the market.

Don’t make the same mistake twice. 

When we end up working for a bad boss, we can often look back and see signs of trouble even before we took the job.  Interview your potential manager after the offer is extended:  What are the goals for the team?  Tell me about your 1:1s. What are your team meetings like?  These questions will give you insights into the role you are moving into, so you avoid a bad manager again.  

Let’s face it, we all have worked for a bad boss.  It doesn’t, however, need to be total misery every day.  Get clear on your professional aspirations and assess whether they are being met, despite your bad boss.  Initiate regular 1:1 check-ins with your boss; aim to broaden the conversation from “what have you done for me lately,” to “here’s a bit more about me and what I’m interested in.”

Janet Polach is a retired Marine officer, as such, she knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a great leader.  She holds a Ph.D. in leadership development and has assisted hundreds of leaders across the globe find their leadership voice in a noisy world.  Her no-nonsense but lighthearted approach creates transformational results for even the most struggling leaders.  She would be delighted to connect with you for a FREE 90-minute coaching conversation to uncover a key issue that is holding you back and create a plan to move you forward.  Janet can be reached at,

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Change Your Mindset

4 Tips On How To Write Down Your Goals To Actually Reach Them



4 Tips to Writing Down Your Goals Effectively

Everyone has goals. Whether small (“I’d like to lose 5 pounds before the summer”) or big (“I’d like to make a million dollars next year”). 

There’s a huge gap between having goals and accomplishing them. The act of writing down your goals plays an important part in closing this gap and reaching your goals.  According to a study done on Harvard MBA students, within ten years’ time, the students who had written down their goals were making ten times as much as their classmates who hadn’t written down their goals.

What to write out in your goals 

1. Clearly define your goals

This may be harder than you think. That’s because oftentimes, we get caught up in our daily routines and lose track of our true desires in life. Most people are guided by their circumstances. But there are a few people who shape their lives according to their goals. Who do you think is happier: the person who is defined by their circumstances or the person who creates their circumstances? Which category are you in now? Which category do you want to be in?

Chances are, you’re in the first group. But, the good news is that if you’re reading this article, you’re probably trying to make it to the second category. In order to do this, you have to take stock of your situation. That means taking some time to sit down and reflect. Find some quiet, alone time. Sit down and consider your current situation from all angles and write down your observations.

If you need some help doing this, consider answering the following questions:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What do you have to do to get there?

“It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

2. Look at the big picture

Envision where you want to be next year, the year after or five years from now. Think about long-term goals. Don’t think about details or how you will accomplish them. Simply allow yourself to dream and to think about what it is you truly want. Whether it’s a personal or professional goal, just let your heart speak. Maybe you want to be married with children in five years’ time. Maybe you want to run a marathon. Or you want a job that you both love and that pays you well. Or you want to take time off to travel. Whatever it is, no matter how far from your current circumstances it may be, write it down.


3. Look at the small picture

Now, is when you start to fill in the gap between where you are now and your dreams. What is the first step? If you want to be married and have children, fill out a profile on an online dating site or let your friends know that you’re interested in meeting someone. If you want to run a marathon, get yourself a personal trainer at a gym or join a running club. Maybe visit a sports nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need in order to stay healthy and competitive.

If you want to land your dream job, think about your qualifications. Do you need to take some courses in order to be a candidate for the job you want? If you already qualify, start sending out your resume. If you want to travel, how could you convince your boss to let you take the time off? What about arrangements for a house-sitter or sub-letter? Who could take care of your pets? What other steps are there between you and your goal? Map them out, step by step.


4. Use positive Self Talk

When writing down your goals, try to put things in a positive way. Negative goal setting implies that you’re doing something wrong. It’s like scolding yourself for not doing better.

Below, I will provide 4 examples:

  • Don’t say: Stop dating losersInstead say: Find a successful, loving, supportive partner.
  • Don’t say: Stop being lazyInstead say: Improve my fitness to have the body I want and increase my health, energy and self-esteem.
  • Don’t say: Quit your dead-end jobInstead say: Find a job that matches my skills, passions and financial goals.
  • Don’t say: Stop putting off traveling. Instead say: Prepare the way for an incredible traveling adventure.

Putting a positive spin on the language you use can make you feel excited about tackling your goals. Such an attitude will help you overcome hurdles and make you determined to reach your future accomplishments.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill

Whatever your goals are, studies show that the act of writing them down can have a significant impact on their outcome. Defining exactly what it is that you want, setting up the steps to get there, and saying it all in a positive way are powerful steps to realizing your dreams. So, grab a pen and get started.

Ready To Write Down Your Goals & Reach Them? Read more blogs about reaching your goals and success on Addicted 2 Success

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Change Your Mindset

Need Help Reaching Your Goals? This 6 Step Process Is For You



how to reach your goals
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Nobody wants to fail and everyone wants to succeed. Every day, people are struggling to reach their goals and achieve success. A failure is a painful event and one that almost all of us work tirelessly to avoid. However, no matter who you are, failure is unavoidable. Not only that, but as much as you hate to fail, failure is still necessary for your success. There can be no success without failure. (more…)

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Don’t Forget the Hard Times Embrace Them to Grow

A dream may never become a reality if you fail to learn from what made it impossible in your past



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A dream may never become a reality if you fail to learn from what made it impossible in your past. Each trial I have faced strengthened me, increased my confidence, and instilled in me the discipline to seek accountability for my life.  (more…)

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Change Your Mindset

5 Ways To Achieve Your Goals (With Examples)



Accomplishing mountians

Setting goals is a crucial first step, whether you’re striving to reach personal or professional milestones. However, achieving those goals requires planning, determination, and focus. In this post, we’ll discuss five actionable strategies that can help you achieve your goals in 2023, and we’ll provide real-life examples to inspire and motivate you. By implementing these tips, you can train your brain to achieve your goals and make meaningful progress toward your aspirations.

1. Write Down Your Goals

The first thing needed to achieve a goal is to have one. A goal becomes very clear and precise once you have written it down most simply and easily to remember.

Here are some examples:

  • I am the world’s best dancer!
  • I am the greatest athlete!
  • I have created the world’s most innovative tech company!

They are all written with the belief that these things have already happened. Once you start believing it has already happened, other people too can sense your confidence and things start happening.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” — Andrew Carnegie

2. The One Page Plan

A simple one-page plan to accompany your goal is much more powerful than a detailed 30-page plan. After you have written your clear goal – write down all the things you will have to do to achieve it. Make it as simple and direct as possible so that you can refer to it every day and take action. A simple plan is easier to follow and keep up with.

3. Get The Right Skills

Once you have a clear goal that has been inked into your mind, and a clear plan in place, it is very important to invest in the skills you need to achieve your goal.

So for example, if you want to become a movie star, you should immediately start developing your acting skills. Observe how other actors perform, join an acting class, read about acting, and most importantly, start honing your craft by joining a local theatre group and going for as many auditions as you can. Practice is very important for mastering any skill.

Struggling To Achieve Your Goals? Here Are 9 Possible Reasons Why! 

4. Surround Yourself With The Best People

The best way to achieve our goals is to make sure we have the best people supporting us. People who succeed are always those who understand the power of people.

So let’s say your goal is to be an entrepreneur and you have developed your entrepreneurial skills, the next step would be to get the best people to join your team to help you achieve your goal. These would be people who you consider to be the best marketers capable of getting you the best customers and investors.

Once you have the best people supporting you, it becomes much easier and faster to achieve your goals.

“It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people’s lives.” – Clint Eastwood

5. Power of Faith

Nothing beats the power of faith and belief. Sometimes you might face challenges, sometimes things might not be going your way, and you might feel like giving up – these are the times when faith and belief will keep you going.

So many people give up, just a few inches away from victory. I am sure you are not one of them since you are investing time into self-development which gives the highest returns! Now go out there and start achieving your goals!

Need more motivation? Read our blogs on motivation and become your best self now!

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