Is your boss a yeller, a micromanager or clueless? Does he put insulting notes on memos that co-workers can see? Does he throw things?
Amy Cunningham's first boss at a Minneapolis public relations firm was a yeller and a micromanager, a tough challenge for a new employee just out of college. After a series of unpleasant incidents, the boss finally exploded when he found out Cunningham had put together a media kit without showing him the separate pieces before assembling it -- a routine task she'd done many times before.
The boss stormed into her office, got in her face, yelled and cursed. "He tried to throw out any personal insult he could come up with," Cunningham says. "I've never been in another situation, business or social, that was that scary."
It all worked out. Cunningham approached another executive at the company and got reassigned. The boss left a few years later, and Cunningham stayed on--15 years, and counting.
Having a bad boss is more than an annoyance. It's the main reason people leave their jobs. Increasingly, that's a tough choice these days. A new survey from Working America, an AFL-CIO affiliate, says that more than 50 million workers feel some pressure to stay with a bad boss because of the current economic downturn.
"It's difficult to handle [uncomfortable] situations without taking some type of risk, and that's why a lot of people choose to ignore or live with it," says Manny Avramidis, senior vice president for global human resources at the American Management Association.
So if your boss is a jerk and you feel you have no choice but to stay, how do you cope? Here are some basic tips:
The best way to deal with a micromanager is to update him frequently. E-mail the boss a memo or checklist of what you're doing on a project so the boss is reassured, and check off your accomplishments as you go.
For instance, if the boss assigns you a report to write and then dictates what exactly you should have in it, tell him, "You've given me enough guidance. Let me take a shot at it and I'll come back after I have a rough draft. Can we talk about the rough draft when it's done?"