If you’re suffering under a bad boss, vacation time this summer is a great opportunity to figure out your strategy for what you’re going to do about it. Your best strategy may be to get out ASAP, but that may not work for you for a variety of reasons.
If you’re stuck for now, here are five things you should learn until you or your boss move on:
Learn what a boss shouldn’t do – This sort of goes without saying, but figure out all the things you shouldn’t do if you want to be a strong leader. I’ve only had one really bad boss, and the “what not to dos” I learned have been invaluable in my career.
Learn how other people react to pressure – The uproar a bad boss creates for a team will trigger a spectrum of coping behaviors among staff members. While the situation sucks, watching how you and others deal with it will help you better interpret what’s going on with people who exhibit stress-driven behaviors in the future.
Learn who your real friends are – Our bad boss had no idea how close people who worked in the department became. Those days forged some of the strongest business friendships I’ve ever had. Because of these friendships, we wouldn’t allow the boss to play us off against one another. Among the team, it quickly became clear who had your back and who didn’t.
Learn where you can become stronger – It’s true – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You aren’t going to die from a bad boss, but dealing with one should make you a better business person. The key is stepping back far enough to keep the situation in perspective. Through having to report to our boss what everybody said and did in meetings, I developed a much sharper strategic sense of the motivations driving others’ behaviors. This skill has been tremendously helpful in subsequent years.
Learn what you’re willing to tolerate – Everybody in our department figured we’d be gone within a few years. People had already started transferring to other departments by the time our bad boss finally departed (YEA!!!). Suddenly, even though the business was in crisis for a variety of other reasons, work seemed much easier. Relieved of the political nonsense and snooping we’d endured, being able to conduct ourselves based on talent and expertise allowed us to immediately do much better jobs. And sticking it out led to lots of great strategic learning from the much better bosses I subsequently had.
Let me reiterate: my best advice is to get out sooner than later with a bad boss. If that’s not in the cards, however, start going to school the day you get back from summer vacation, if not sooner! – Mike Brown