What is the saying “People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses”? It’s true for so many of us – a bad boss will shake your confidence to the core. It happened to me – I was a new marketer and eager to please. I worked for a woman who loved me one day and would berate me to tears the next (and I am not a cryer). I was incredibly over-worked, underpaid and I fought for every success I achieved and eventually I left but not before learning some incredible lessons:
Be Resourceful. When you work for someone who is not helpful, you need to make friends. The great thing about bad bosses is they are typically terrible to more than just you. Find someone in the office who has weathered the storm to help you get the job done. This person knows where the files you need are located, they know the things that trigger your boss, they know the office politics and they are a sounding board to work out the “WTF” day to day. Caution: Don’t become the negative Nancy. Ask for solutions, no one wants to listen to you whine all the time.
CYA. Always cover your own ass – it’s saving grace in a tough work situation. Keep an email trail of conversations, re-cap via email with your boss or others on projects, and make sure you have clear action items on the things you are supposed to complete. The best place to be with a bad boss is “on top of it”. Once you a have good handle on the basics, don’t be afraid to branch out and shine for some other people in leadership. Your boss may not brag on you, seek out advocates for yourself.
It’s Never Personal. Although we often forget it, managers, supervisors, team leads … even CEOs are just people. Their terribleness often has nothing to do with you, sometimes they are overworked or unappreciated themselves. Maybe their home life is in shambles – you never know, just don’t take their negative behavior to mean something is wrong with you. I will say it again for the “People pleasers” your boss sucks, you do not. “You…Girl, are a goddamned Rockstar.” Do the best work possible, gain what there is to gain and move on.
Having a bad manager can kill your motivation and your creativity. And it feels impossible especially when you need the experience (or the money) – but it’s doable. Do not worry about twisting yourself into shapes for them, winning is learning a lot and surviving long enough to leave on your own terms.
Good luck Girl.