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Dealing with a horrible boss

By Shefali Rai, October 25 2019—

According to CBC, a new survey suggested that two out of five Canadians quit their job recently because of a bad manager. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Out of the 400 people surveyed, roughly 156 of these individuals said they resigned due to bad management. That’s 39 per cent of the sample, and that’s only looking at people who were practically able to or financially stable enough to quit. This statistic, however, doesn’t consider the countless individuals who debated quitting their jobs due to a bad boss. And if numbers and stats aren’t enough to convince you, let’s remember all the movies or TV shows based on the fact that a nightmare boss can make anyone quit their job. Remember Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada? Or how about all the awful managers in Horrible Bosses?

What if you could land your dream job today? And what if this amazing opportunity came with not only a phenomenal salary, but also unbelievable perks such as pre-paid travel opportunities, a prestigious ‘Black Card’ credit card, limitless paid sick days or a pension plan worth retiring for? I don’t know about you, but I would be over the moon if a job would simply offer me free lunches every day. But how long would you be able to survive if your direct boss or supervisor was verbally abusive, sent you off to do impossible tasks with an unrealistic time frame, forced you to work every single weekend — yes, both Saturdays and Sundays — took credit for all your hard work and you would probably have to sell your soul at some point by violating your morals? Your dream job might just turn into a frightening nightmare. And considering all the Halloween festivities coming up soon, a ghoulish boss is the last thing you want on your plate.

There are many reasons someone would resign from their current job — a better opportunity with another company, a career change, going back to school, moving to a different city or finally winning Lotto 6/49. However, quitting because of your boss is pretty high up on the list of reasons to leave your job. A horrible boss affects your mental health and well-being and can create a toxic work environment. Ideally, a manager should be your mentor, your team cheerleader and your source of inspiration. And this isn’t specific to all the hard-working employees out there. A terrible supervisor or professor falls under this category, too. Sadly, for many people, their managers remind them more of Cruella de Vil than of Martin Luther King Jr.

Unfortunately, I can say I have been previously plagued by a terrible manager. Needless to say, my daily stress levels were off the charts. I gained 20 pounds, irritability towards my family members was at an all-time high and insomnia had set in every night. I would get late-night phone calls from my manager confirming I had completed remedial tasks. I was never recognized for my achievements at work and the credit for new initiatives I had implemented was taken from me. I was blamed for other people’s errors and even accused for starting a rumour about a colleague, who happens to be a close friend of mine. I was micromanaged to the point where my manager would call me just to double check I was sitting at my desk. My boss would refuse to leave voicemails when it was something truly urgent and later call me out in front of team meetings for being unresponsive and unreliable. I could go on and on, but is there a remedy for bad bosses that seem to be infecting people everywhere?

Yes and no. Most of these bad bosses don’t realize they’re “bad,” and until someone speaks up or a high employee turnover rate peaks the interest of HR, I doubt a cure is in sight. However, there are several strategies — many of which I have used — that could ease this nightmare. For one, try speaking with current employees or students on the team and get a sense of their feelings for the work environment. For those of you already stuck being managed by a bad boss, try setting boundaries with your boss and letting them know you don’t particularly like answering their calls at 10 p.m. or working on a Sunday. And last but not least, try talking to a career counsellor or reach out to the various mental health support services around Calgary and the University of Calgary. And until we can eradicate bad bosses all over the globe, you might just have to say “Hasta la vista baby.”

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