You nailed the interview, got the job and you’re now six months into a new nine-to-five life. But despite taking home the trophy of this epic work win, you’re finding that your career glory is tarnishing more and more with each soul-sapping day that goes by – and it’s all down to bad-boss behaviour. This is exactly what happened to Alex*, 26, when she landed a killer finance role. It wasn’t long after she first started that Alex realised the office politics, driven by someone above her, made for a ridiculously toxic environment. “When someone goes out of their way to deliberately undermine people, you lose confidence,” she explains. “You are always completely on edge.” So much so it has caused Alex to question whether she should stay at this job or leave.
If you can’t deal with your tyrannical second-in-command or a mean-as manager, don’t e-mail them in a resignation rage. Yet. We look at the ways your boss grinds your gears and show you exactly how to deal.
You feel like your boss gives you too much work
Swimming in work is an understatement; you find yourself wading through stacks of A4 paper just to get to your keyboard. Everyone else seems to be able to leave on time, but your workload holds you back from making plans with your pals during the week. With how much work you have to get through, you never finish on time. Plus, you’re so exhausted after work each night, you can barely drag yourself out of the office to go home.
What to do: Look at the bright side here; those who perform well tend to be given more to do. While this may be true, Jane Lowder, founder of career consultancy Max Coaching, points out that it’s important to have a balance. “Document your workflow and demonstrate that despite your consistently high level of achievement, the excessive workload is impairing your ability to do your job as well as you’d like,” she says. “Often, your boss hasn’t paid attention to who is doing what, and your actions may trigger a fairer redistribution of work and closer scrutiny of its allocation.”
You’re singled out in front of all your co-workers
You’ve spent the last two weeks polishing off a report to perfection. You hand it in to your manager, ahead of time, and she appears to be quite impressed. That’s until she tells you you’re stupid for not looking at another case study on top of the three that you already included. To make things even worse, she calls you up on this in the office kitchen right in front of four of your other colleagues. Ouch.
What to do: Whether you’re burning from embarrassment following this awkward encounter or totally seething with anger, there’s a chance your boss doesn’t realise that she may have come across as very brash and abrasive, or how her behaviour has affected you. “The best strategy you can use is to calmly and professionally represent your interpretation of the situation and offer them a chance to explain themselves,” says Jane. “Assertiveness and open communication is key. Suffering in silence is the worst option as the angst will only compound over time.”
Your manager has a serious case of double standards
There’s a growing stay-back-late culture that is driving the business you work for. And this is something you consistently adhere to, clocking up countless late nights and missing out hanging with your friends, just like most other people in the office do. And by most people, that’s pretty much everyone but the boss. Fair? Well, you definitely don’t think so.
What to do: If you feel you are working outside of what your job description entails, bring this up with your boss stat. “Unfortunately, not all managers are very fair,” says careers consultant Katie Roberts. “If their expectations of you really go well beyond what your job is or what the terms of your employment are, then there is a reason to raise that.”
Your team leader bullies you and says inappropriate things
It’s casual Friday and you wear your favourite jeans to work. But when you go to fill the printer, your team leader tells you that you dress promiscuously as they walk past, scoffing. You can still hear them laugh about it in the distance. The thing is, though, you don’t find this funny at all; you find it to be an inappropriate comment to be dealt in the workplace, particularly by your boss. It feels wrong.
What to do: No-one deserves to ever feel intimidated at work no matter the circumstance; although, there is a professional way to handle this situation. “Every organisation should have a policy document on this that clearly outlines bullying definitions and recommended action,” says Jane. The first step is to document everything. “Keep written records of all bullying behaviour,” adds Katie. “This includes dates, what was said, and if anyone witnessed it. Then speak with your HR manager or boss, discuss your concerns with them and get advised on what to do from there.”
Your supervisor won’t help you advance in your career
During a performance review, your boss explained they’d give you the training you need to score your next big promotion. And… that was eight months ago. You work really hard and put in extra effort wherever you can, but ultimately, you can’t climb the career ladder without the mentoring your manager promised you.
What to do: Bosses are generally pretty busy and can get swept up in their own work without thinking about yours. That said, Katie believes this is the time to be proactive and speak to your boss about your concerns. “The best thing to do is to ask if you can schedule a regular meeting with them, like once a month,” she says. “Use that time to discuss your work and get their advice on how you can grow and develop within that role.”
Image: Corbis/Click Photos
Text: Ellie McDonald