One common problem at workplaces around the world is a bad boss. According to a study by Life Meets Work, 56 percent of American workers claimed their boss is mildly or highly toxic.
Another study by the American Psychological Association revealed that 75 percent of Americans' most stressful task of the workday is to deal with their bosses.
Though many leave their jobs to get rid of the toxicity, another study has shown that employees end up working longer (two years, on average) for toxic bosses than nontoxic bosses.
Quitting is hard
People stay in jobs with bosses they do not like for a multitude of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are: They do not have the energy to look for a new job, likes the job/colleagues/commute, they need the salary and cannot afford to take a pay cut, there are not many other jobs that would be better, does not want to lose the benefits, they have invested too much to start over in a new organisation, this job pays too well to leave, things might get better.
Many of the above excuses are basic psychological behaviour. Normally, a person will be too exhausted to search for a new job if s/he endures high-stress situation. It is hard to quit without confirming another job, and you cannot do that if you are drained out.
Another aspect is, people tend to strive to keep what they have worked hard to obtain. In the workplace, this could be salary, status, stability, seniority, social connections, and all the other benefits they have accumulated over the years. Also, people tend to stay when they are emotionally attached to their jobs. This makes it harder for them to leave, even if they have a boss who treats them poorly.
Although staying put may seem like a better option than leaving, it comes with many risks.
A research conducted on 3,122 Swedish male employees found that those who work for toxic bosses were 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening cardiac condition.
Further studies on American workplaces show that people with toxic bosses are more susceptible to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which increase the risk of a lowered immune system, colds, strokes, and even heart attacks.
Some research revealed that it may take up to 22 months to recover physically and emotionally from a toxic boss. While the idea of quitting may seem scary, the reality of staying in a job with a toxic boss can be even scarier.
What to do then?
If quitting right away is not an option, there are some ways to mitigate the potential damage of working for a toxic boss. While specific strategies depend on the kind of boss you have, e.g. bullies, narcissists, etc., some general approaches can help you manage the situation.
Making requests instead of feedbacks can be a solution. It is usually a good idea to try to talk to your boss and see what is going on. However, a difficult boss may not be open to hearing feedback about his or her failures.
Thus, making specific requests to get what you need is a good option. Mention specifically about the resources and support you need to do your job, explain your rationale and articulate how this will benefit them and the organisation. Also, timing is a crucial element. Having these conversations when your boss is calm and in an upbeat mood will give you the best outcome. Make sure to prepare, practice, and anticipate reactions.
A strong support network is critical when dealing with an emotionally challenging situation. Surround yourself with friends and people who support and encourage you. It would be best if you had friends outside your work for socialising and reducing work stress.
Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is essential. You can try taking a leave from work to calm yourself down if possible. Apart from this, look for the activities that bring you joy and satisfaction. You can also try meditation and yoga. Also, do not forget to remind yourself that you are not the problem. You certainly cannot control your boss's behaviour, but you can work on your response to their behaviour.
You can also try to get a transfer to other departments of your organisation. This way, you will be able to escape your boss without leaving the company. Meet with colleagues and managers in other departments, think about where your skills might translate, and make a case for your transition.
You can also try consulting with HR. However, get acquainted about their reputation in supporting employee complaints before you approach, or it might bring additional trouble for you. If you get the vibe that the HR will positively support, then let them know about the issues you are having with your boss and what you have done to try to rectify the situation. They might have helped others like you and can offer you a solution you had not thought of.
Know when to leave
It would help if you accepted that quitting could be the best solution. Sometimes the signs clearly show that it is time to move on to the next job. If you do not want to go to work every morning, feel physically or mentally unsafe at work, spend more time thinking about your boss than your work, if stress from work takes upon your rest of the life, and you can see a drop in your self-esteem, it is time to go.
Once you decide to quit, it is crucial to do it as professionally and gracefully as possible. You might want to blaze everything with your anger, but this is not a good idea. Here are a few tips:
Start exploring new opportunities: There is no magic bullet here: you need to start the job search.
Give proper notice: The standard for most industries is one month in Bangladesh. Giving more time is always an option but try not to give less if you can help it. Write a proper resignation letter and tell your supervisor — in person — that you are leaving. Do not forget, letters of resignation often end up in employee files and might be used if your former boss is ever called for a reference. Make sure your letter is professionalCreating a transition timeline: You need to have a transition plan and have a clear idea about what you are going to do before you leave and stick to it. If you promise to finish projects, then finish them. Do not take works that you will not be able to finish within time.
Be prepared to go early: If your boss is genuinely toxic, he or she could dismiss you the minute you give notice. Make sure you have your personal belongings, contact information, important papers, commendations, etc. organised before you provide notice. Be sure to return all company property promptly and adequately. Get proper documentation stating that you have returned it. You certainly do not want someone to claim that you have stolen anything.
Do not bad mouth: Resist the urge to bad mouth your boss during potential job interviews or even after you land a new job. Hiring managers do not know you, and they do not know your boss. All they will notice is your complaining attitude, and this is not good at all.