How do you feel when you’ve arrived back home after work: empowered or disempowered?

Do you avoid conversations or interactions with your boss?

Do you dread going to work to avoid any interactions with your boss?

Do you spend more time worrying about how your boss might react to your work, rather than spending quality time at work?

Do you leave your boss at work, or bring them home, only to unload about what happened at work, making the lives of the people around you miserable?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying that you would have to face your boss the next day?

If your answer to any or all the questions above is, YES, then you are dealing with a toxic boss and you need to find an exit strategy.

A study published in 2019 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that, managers who fail to provide a trusting and encouraging work environment to their colleagues, often are at risk of becoming: smoking addicts, unhealthy food eaters, having greater cardiovascular risks, developing diabetes and/or obesity, along with sufferers of depression, emotional fatigue and chronic stress.

But remember, every story can be multi-faceted. The boss may be unaware to some degree, that he or she is a bad boss, or even that he or she is a good boss. Let us deal with each situation individually.


Unaware that he or she is a bad boss:

The following could be some of the reasons:

  • Lack of training
  • Early promotion
  • Too many staff to manage
  • Biases – cultural, gender, nationality, colour and race
  • Poor educational background
  • Inability to communicate directives or to elicit constructive feedback
  • Being overwhelmed with too much feedback and micromanagement
  • Ideological differences with employees over holidays and vacations, flexible work schedules, and establishing a work-life balance


Attributes of a Bad Boss:

The following could be some of these:

  • Bullying
  • Lacking empathy and understanding
  • Insulting, critical, and argumentative in front of your peers
  • Biased attitude – cultural, gender, nationality, colour, or  race
  •  Apportioning blame unfairly, and not taking responsibility for their bad decisions or strategies
  • Expecting staff to work after their approved work hours, or on days off
  • Intimidation in the workplace, and making a staff member feel incompetent and underperforming
  • Name-calling and treating staff as if they have no understanding of anything


How to deal with a Bad Boss

  • Bring it to the attention of the boss, have a discussion, tell them what you exactly need from them. Discuss about guidance and support, direction to succeed.
  • Reach out to a mentor from other accomplished peers or managers, with your current manager in confidence for a better experience.
  • If the above efforts fail, reach out to the bosses’ manager for assistance, or seek support from Human Resources
  • Do not publicly declare war on your boss, but bring their behaviour to their bosses’ attention privately
  • Give some time for changes to be seen as these conversations are confidential but if you see no change, you may bring together other staff who have similar experiences and bring it to the attention of your bosses manager.
  • If the above efforts are still in vain and nothing has changed you may seek an opportunity to work in another department.
  • If any of the above does not work out for you, it is best for you to look for another work opportunity elsewhere. You may choose to search new opportunities secretly and resign once you receive your desired role.

Always remember, the way any toxic person treats you is a reflection on their character and not yours. You are not responsible to carry that burden on your shoulders. It is the organisation’s responsibility to provide you with an environment that inspires you to grow personally and professionally. A space where you are treated with mutual respect and admiration. When companies hire new staff, they run a thorough background check on the applicants, no matter what their educational qualifications may be. The way they treat their staff is a true reflection of their character. 

The information and views expressed in the blog are individual and inspired from writer’s experience and study in Mental Health & Hypnotherapy.