Bad boss? Here’s how to cope

By Anjali Ojha, IANS
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NEW DELHI/GURGAON - Are you working day and night without any recognition? Or walking the extra mile only to see a colleague take the credit or the increment - while you get the bashing? Then here’s a rundown on how to deal with the ‘bad boss syndrome’.

“A boss is no doubt the most important for your career growth. I had joined an IT firm after a lot of struggle but had to leave in six months because I developed a bad equation with my boss,” Charu Gupta, who works with an IT company in Gurgaon, told IANS.

Anil Sethi, consultant with a leading Human Resource Consultancy, says: “It’s said that people rarely leave bad jobs, but bad bosses. Bad bosses are very common.”

For an employee, it’s career on one hand and self-respect, mental peace and workplace comfort on the other.

“If a boss appreciates or reprimands according to the situation, he or she qualifies to be a good boss. However, a difficult boss is one who puts you in tough situations and reprimands you despite your best results,” Deepak Kaistha of Human Resource Consultation firm Planman HR. told IANS.

“Also, if the boss doesn’t provide the required support for enabling you to achieve your goals, he is being unreasonable,” he adds.

But how to deal with a ‘difficult’ boss?

“Try and understand the reason behind the behaviour of your boss. There might be a genuine reason for the misconduct, such as a grave personal problem that is spilling on to his professional life. If this is the case, the problem at best is temporary,” says Kaistha.

“Sometimes, you just have to be a little diplomatic in your dealings with your boss. There are times when people in positions of power feel insecure due to their subordinates. In such situations, you have to make sure that you give colleagues and your boss credit for what you are able to accomplish,” he adds.

According to leading HR consultant Yadhav Mehra, dealing with the boss depends much on how he or she is.

“A boss-employee relationship can be somewhat like the parent-child relationship - the parent can be nurturing or controlling in nature, and the child can be a follower or a rebel,” says Mehra from HR consultant C-Cube.

“Four quadrants describe the boss-employee relation. A boss may be better qualified or more able than the employee or less qualified and able than the employee. Then, the boss may be good intentioned or bad intentioned. The way to deal with the boss changes accordingly,” he explains.

Mehra, who works with leading multinationals like Ernst and Young, Marks and Spencer and Adobe, says conflict resolution with a ‘good intentioned’ boss is easy.

“Whether the boss is more able or less able, if he or she is good intentioned, all you have to do is to do your work sincerely. Any conflict will be resolved if the boss understands you are working for the good of the organisation,” he says.

However, dealing with a ‘bad intentioned’ boss is different, depending on his or her ability.

“A ‘bad intentioned’ boss, who is more qualified, is most difficult to deal with,” he says.

“I call them ‘Shakuni’ bosses, since they are more intelligent than the employee and selfish. It’s better to be a good follower because logic will be useless,” Mehra adds. Shakuni is the uncle in the Indian epic Mahabharata who fuelled the Kauravas’ hatred for the Pandavas.

However, when a bad boss is less able, the employee could be in a position to negotiate.

“If an employee is more able than the boss, the superior will need him or her for the work, while the employee needs the boss’ support for career growth. Here, the employee should bargain for his or her benefit,” he says.

Sethi adds that in extreme situations, super seniors should be reached. “If the situation gets out of hand, you might have to report your boss to the higher authorities. But never complain,” he says.

“You should be ready with concrete information which you can source from co-workers or others to support the case,” the consultant says. “Highlighting his or her wrong deeds concerning the company’s policies or image should be the most critical point,” he adds.

“Bad roads help you become a good driver, the same way a bad boss gives you the opportunity to do better and improve professionally. If you have a cool head, positive attitude, patience and commitment, you can face any situation in life,” Sethi adds.

(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at

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