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Bad bosses can make us sick

October 23, 2018

Team Management

They get in the way, slow us down, demand the unreasonable, expect the impossible, and take all the credit for our very best work. They don’t listen to us, preferring the sound their own voice. Some are loud, aggressive, and operate from a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality. Others are just bullies, plain and simple, taking a sneakier more deceitful and sly approach to managing their people. They’re bad communicators, unsupportive of their staff. They don’t give good directions, don’t provide opportunities for growth, and set unachievable targets. I'm exaggerating, obviously. There are great managers. There are good managers too.

Bad bosses take what they can from every situation, and contribute very little. We can do without them, in fact, we’d work better if it wasn’t for these bosses, right? We don’t need them. We need bosses. We just don’t need bad bosses.

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A few years back though, the bad boss was a common phenomenon. Normal. Luckily, the world of work has changed so much in recent years, bosses like this have largely become a thing of the past, a grim reminder of the bad old days, no longer expected or accepted.

But….there’s always a but. There are still a few bad bosses out there. They may not all have the same unpleasant characteristics I’ve listed above, they may not all be so toxic and oppressive, but they do exist, they definitely exist. And what’s more, they’re bad for us. Actually, physically bad for us. Put simply, bad bosses do lasting harm to our physical and mental health.

In a recent LinkedIn article, Quartz magazine state that a bad boss can have a similar negative effect on our health as passive smoking. In a study they carried out in the US, 75% of responders said their bosses are a major cause of stress at work. That’s a lot of stress for a lot of people. The worst part is that 59% of them are reluctant to move on and find a new role. They’re just resigned to the fact that the stress is part of the job, and the bad boss is the reason. This in turn means a negative affect on their ambition, their drive, their personal goals, and obviously, their productivity. And of course, there’s the huge effect on their mental health to consider. Our motivation and energy runs low, we enjoy our work less because of our low mood. We’re not engaged or enthused. And let's be honest, if the greatest obstacle to our work is the boss, we’re in serious trouble.

We need ways to survive. Tips to get through this, and towards a brighter, happier and more productive future.

Consider this. You’re not the only one to know what this boss is like. They might not admit it openly, but others have noticed. So it may be in your best interests to just keep going. Say nothing. Do good work, do it well, and make sure those above the boss know that you’re doing well. There’s every chance you’ll come out of this better than your nemesis boss. As time goes on, you’ll be seen in a more positive light, while the boss will continue to lose credibility. It’s a tough ask, to just bit your lip and keep your head down, but as long as your work is good, there’s a good chance that you could well come out of this better. 

The other option is to have a re-think. Consider where you are and whether you can be happy there. Look at your goals. Think about what you want to achieve. Reassess the position, how do you define your own success? Your job may be comfortable, safe and predictable, but is it right for you? Or can you see the sense in taking the big step of moving on, and finding a new role, with the hope of a better boss? Yes, it’s a big step. Daunting.

But our health must always come first, so if your bad boss is having such a detrimental and negative effect on your life and work, maybe its time to make the break.

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