Bad Boss: A Case Study

Today’s blog post is from a friend who is ‘stuck’ working for a ‘bad boss’. I thought you would like to listen in to the conversation… I have indented my inserted responses in line.

Hi Marc,

I am looking for some feedback, if you are willing. I’ll do some project to return the value to you.*

It seems things haven’t really changed with my boss, after close to two years.

What are the specific “things” you want to change?

The more specific, the easier it is to solve a “problem”…

But then again – trying to CHANGE someone is the 3rd hardest thing to do…

#1, trying to climb a fence that is leaning TOWARDS you.

#2, trying to kiss someone who is leaning AWAY from you.

#3, trying to change someone who does not want to change.

I feel like he HAS to be in control of everything, every detail, and when he isn’t, his expectation is flipped upside down, and asked why  I /we don’t have an answer.

You have to accept that MOST people can’t and don’t want to change. MOST people would like to look good, but more than 2/3 of people today are FAT or OBESE… Think about it – who WANTS to be fat?

So once you accept this FACT, then you have to CHOOSE to be with the peer group that you want.

Let’s face it – being a manager at your company (in this location) is not the top of the management (success) pyramid. If he could get a “better” job, he would have been promoted or he would have applied to work somewhere else… The longer he has been in this role, the worse it is.

Have you read the book the Peter Principle?

It’s one of my ‘top 100’ recommended books. <— Click on the hyperlink to see it on my bookshelf.

This is an important concept for you to recognise in others and in yourself.

I THOUGHT after going to work working in (__ distant city __) , and virtually driving , leading independently the re-work project and getting RESULTS, we both (my boss and I) moved to next level of respect.

It SEEMS, now , or I feel now, that I was simply taken advantage of  when the company needed something / someone when they got in a tight situation.

First of all, when you take on a project like this, you need to fully document the investment (sacrifices) you made to go, the tasks you undertook and the measurable RESULTS you produced. If you went there to make a point and be noticed, this should have been determined AHEAD of time, so while you were away and upon return you, could have achieved one or more outcomes for yourself: a raise, more responsibility, a promotion, new tasks, etc.

Of course you can do all of the above now. Prepare a report that summarises all of this and present it to your boss, ideally just before your next annual assessment / evaluation.

The other aspect to this is that you learned new skills, developed a better understanding of the company’s needs so even though your immediate boss might now appear to appreciate you, the rest of the organisation KNOWS you did what you did – at least the travel aspect… They might now be aware of the RESULTS which is a tricky situation. You need your boss’ boss to know what you accomplished without ‘going over your boss’ head’… If you have a chance to see him/her, you can always let it slip that you prepared a report on the project or problem ‘solution’. If he/she asks for it… At least it won’t go unnoticed.

Since I have been back, it’s like the first few months when I was a contractor. There was no trust, he was doing our job in front of us, asking for process improvements, feedback and rejecting it, with low expectations.

His micro-management calmed down for most of last year, but has come back again.

People always revert back to their ‘dominant’ management style. Micro managers are insecure, largely incompetent in their role and fearful of being ‘found out’. They (over) compensate with a perfectionist detail-oriented approach that annoys their staff and is counterproductive to organisational goals.

I understand I have, and am beginning to recognize, the patterns in my relationships and jobs that I choose, and the bosses  that I work for, and I’m working to come to terms with that.

All patterns reside in underlying ‘psychic wounds’ that need to heal for your career ascension to get back on track. As you know, I don’t ‘do’ personal interventions, but I can recommend you read the books on my bookshelf – The Purpose Of Your Life and Flourish as a starting point. Once you’ve read those, then you MUST read The Rules Of Work.

At the same time, it SEEMS like whichever approach I take, it’s the wrong one, the wrong answer, the wrong thing , the wrong action / in-action.

When you are NOT working as a team, your are working in OPPOSITION.

I Feel like everything I do is for him and how he could look good, and that I’m not really working for (__________), the corporation. It SEEMS like ideas I have proposed are minimalized, or if they have value, he will modify them and call them his own. It’s like walking on eggshells, and it’s been like that from day one. The controlling aspect of his personality is blatant.

It all SEEMS to be starting all over again, and I am at a loss as to why or how to effectively deal with him or this situation other than go to work each day with my earplugs (I need them for the air compressor) and just smile and nod.

This feeling is called helplessness. For it to manifest itself, you need to feel:

  • It’s personal – YOU are the problem
  • It’s pervasive – EVERYTHING you do is wrong.
  • It’s permanent – it will never change.

To get out of this ‘mindset’, you just need to break one of these.

But that is not your real problem or challenge – see below.

I have also started training on (___enterprise software___) as well as a back-up for several procurement/ supply chain positions under another manager. I have also been learning cost analysis, with and from my boss, for the lab. Which is EXACTLY the TASKS I want to do / learn.

This is the tricky part… From the Peter Principle book – you need to make a shift from one function of the organisation to another, for YOUR to ascend UP the ladder. Wanting to work for someone else (a better boss) is part of YOUR career management path. The company WANTS you to grow and develop. You CAN leave your boss behind to languish in mediocrity – he is NOT your responsibility. On the road to success, there will be many obstacles you will have to circumvent, jump over and/or avoid along the way. Just do it in a politically correct manner and accept this as a fact of (work) life.

If you don’t have a career development plan, with a SET timeline, then it’s YOUR fault you’re stagnant and not ‘succeeding’. You should discuss your plan with your boss and the company’s HR department and make the investments necessary. Most large companies will help with the cost of certifications and training / educational costs.

So, my point is.. well… I feel a pattern… and this USUALLY when I would “jump ship”… SABOTAGE.

I am not advising you to ‘jump ship’ – I am advising you to try to move up within your organisation and IF you can’t make any moves from within, then and only then should you seek a solution elsewhere. You know my ‘famous saying”:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll get there.”
— Dr Marc Dussault

I’m not sure if this makes sense or not.

I think the question I am asking is how COULD I stop this pattern, so I can be successful with the NEW training and the additional roles that I am starting?

In summary:

  • You cannot change someone who does not want to change.
  • Your boss’ limitations and behaviours are NOT your problem – deal with your own and overcome them with stellar results that the company HAS TO NOTICE.
  • Knowing what you want is easier said than done. When you are “ON PURPOSE” in your life and career – the ‘game changes’ in your favour.
  • When you know what you want, then all you have to do is get it (certification, training, education, skills, etc.)
  • With the RESULTS, skills and abilities – you will be able to move UP the organisation or offer those skills to another company.
  • This approach is called being an Intrapreneur instead of an “employee”.


* All my close friends understand the law of reciprocity: Always offer something in return for advice, favours, etc. Paying it forward fuels the power of the Law Of Attraction in mysterious, magical ways so everyone wins – without necessarily ‘keeping score”. Do it generously, authentically and genuinely and see what happens!


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