How to manage a difficult boss

  | 4 min read

You love everything about your job, well apart from your boss. Every morning you wake up with zeal and energy to give your best, but when your boss’s face creeps into your brain the energy leaks out of you like a balloon that has been pricked.

The reason why the thought of spending another day with your boss makes your bed seem more attractive each morning could be attributed to several reasons. For instance, his anger tantrums and mood swings, his obsession with micromanaging, he plays favorites, or he takes all the credit for your efforts.

The 6 tips below will provide guidance on how to survive and better yet, perform under a bad boss.


Know Yourself

Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know your limits. Working under a boss that brings out negative emotions in you can ultimately affect your general outlook towards life. A prior understanding of your qualities and emotions will help you be in control of the situation and your emotions on your worst day under your boss’s leadership. This understanding will also help you determine whether or not you can manage your boss on his or her worst day. Work to also understand your boss’s weaknesses and seek to assist him shine. Everyone in the office probably knows your boss’s weaknesses too. You choosing to work around their weaknesses puts you in a better light with the company’s directors or managers.


Make an Objective Assessment of the Situation

Before making a conclusion that your boss is difficult or bad, you need to make an objective assessment of the whole situation. Are you meeting the set performance agreement? Do you meet departmental deliverables? Are your tasks completed on time and done satisfactorily? If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, your boss has some level of entitlement in being angry and probably openly expressing it.


Discover the Triggers

Most likely, your boss does not step out of the elevator livid and breathing fire. He or she sees something or hears something that rubs them in the wrong way. Learn the triggers that make your boss angry and work to avoid them. If you being a minute late ruinshis day, by all means be at your desk five minutes before time. If late delivery of reports makes his or her irked, by all means sacrifice an extra hour in the evening to complete the report in time. If you can take care of the triggers that, you might realize that you might reach a level of unspoken agreement in your dealings with your boss.


Try Communicating

Once you take care of triggers and you still feel hostility from your boss, you could try pointing out to them, in a professional manner, the areas that are affecting you. Become hungry for feedback. Let your boss understand that you desire to know what you are doing wrong and that you are willing to put in effort to attain the required results. This will melt whatever ice that existed between you two and improve the relationship.


Resist All Kind of Bullying

In as much as it is your desire to improve the relationship between you and your boss, it doesn’t mean that you be pushed around in any way. Where you realize that boundaries are being crossed or you are being asked to perform tasks outside your normal jurisdiction, resist politely. Speak up where you feel you are being treated unfairly and involve the human resource department where necessary.


Do not Make Desperate Moves

When you have taken all steps to improve your working relationship with your boss and there has been no positive outcome, you may decide to change jobs. However, you need to be cautious and ensure that you are not blinded by emotion. Choose your next company carefully after deciding what aspects of a workplace are important to you. Conduct your homework well on your prospective employer. The worst thing about changing jobs is moving to a situation similar or worse than what you are running away from.

Njeri Karanja
Njeri is a reading and creative writing enthusiast who is neck-deep in research writing. She is well versed in researching and writing on various topics.


  1. That was a very thoughtful topic to cover on that particular subject since it often a huge cause of staff turnover.Thanks for that particular wisdom notation.

    • Very true Nakachwa. We hope this has been eye opening for you so you can learn how to handle challenges related to this. All the best out there ^EO

    • Hello Kennedy,

      The article was meant to be an eye opener for both managers and their subordinates, thus I’m quite sure it will also help you along your career journey also.


  2. Wonderful tips to young people indeed there are many challenges faced at the workplace making people live good jobs without any good reason…

  3. Pretty wonderful insights there. These are realities which at times may be taken for granted or looked at as non existent issues. I am glad that you have come out boldly on such. Keep up the good job

  4. Great tips! Work places are sometimes not what one expects but with these tips we can do great.
    Everyone that comes into our lives is either a blessing or a lesson.

    • Well put Agnes. We wish you the very best going forward as you embark on applying these strategies on your day to day life. ^EO

  5. I can say that is true. However, having a minor hearing problem made my former boss bully and intimidate me. I had no option than to bow out for endless intimidation…I have a partial hearing problem. I settled for self employment because I do not wish anyone to make me feel inferior being for my hearing problem!!

    • Hi Nicholus,
      Thank you for contributing. We are sorry to hear about your condition, how your previous employer failed to comprehend the situation and the challenges you had to go through as an employee. Your story is however very encouraging and inspiring. How in spite of the physical and the emotional challenges, you managed to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and started a new chapter of your life. With that strong and persistent personality and that kind heart of sharing, we have no doubt that as your business continues to grow, you shall make a wonderful employer mandated to manage skilled employees in your business, hopefully recruited from Brightermonday 🙂 We wish you all the best!

    • So nice facts and l wish l got them last a good job in hotel but all a sudden my boss changed her attitude towards negativel,and in three days time l left the job.thank you next tyme l will have facts to consider before quitting

      • Hi Tom,
        Thank you for sharing. We are sorry to hear that. Please keep it here for more articles that will basically keep you on toes as you continue to build your professional career. Good day! ^EO

  6. Thanks for the tip.I am in such a situation.but hope your tips will help boss always makes it hard for me daily.he is threatened by me and he does everything to make me annoyed. I love what I do but he made me hate my job…am just doing it for the money

    • Hi Barack,

      We regret to hear that you are currently going through those exact challenges. We hope that with this information, you will be well equipped with the knowledge and skill of understanding how to deal with that situation without compromising your career and your passion. We wish you all the best! ^EO

    • Hi Khasim,

      Thank you for sharing. We are sorry to hear about that. It is our sincere hope that these tips help you one way or another to understand how best to handle your situation. All the best ^EO

  7. This is pretty good, I needed it just as it landed on my inbox. Wanna start with the first two,concerning my self before getting to boss directly.
    Thanks brighter monday.

  8. The tips are great but my if you have tried but no positive outcome and it is clear that the boss is taking the direction of sacking you, is it wise to resign?

    • Hi Sarah,

      That’s a good question. Our advice would be to take some time off to assess how you are affected by being in employment. Besides disliking the people you work with and/or your boss, are you also: consistently stressed, negative, and/or unhappy at work; unable fit in with the corporate culture and/or you don’t believe in the company anymore; suffering performance-wise; physically unhealthy because of the work related stress; having untapped skills; having increased duties and no pay; no longer having good work-life balance; bored and stagnating at your job; experiencing verbal abuse, sexual harassment, or are aware of any type of other illegal behavior? The decision to either resign or hang in there could depend on how you assess yourself with respect to these questions. We hope that you get your answers and a resolution for situation soon. ^EO

    • We regret to hear about that Dan. We certainly hope that with the incorporation of the career center facility and with your brightermonday account, you will be more empowered so as to secure even more opportunities as we go. ^EO

  9. This happens all the time and it hinders employees reach their peak in performance in work stations.

    It is demoralizing

    Thanks Brightermonday.

  10. Just what I needed, great advise. Thank u. Tried some of the steps unknowingly thinking I was wrong, but now I am confident

  11. I thank you brighter Monday.. I have learnt something big from you guyz.. I have an hectic boss but from now I know how I will handle him.

  12. very helpful.
    someone told me to interview the boss once i got for an interview, i thought he was being funny.iget it now

  13. Well truelly some bosses are very difficult to work under they seem they know all my Qn is; Why then do they advertise for the position if they can perform in all the departments within their organs or company?
    Thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing this Emma we clearly understand your frustration. On the flip side, an organisation isn’t made up of one person and that’s why they need team members to work with. Which is why the positions are advertised. We hope that with this piece of information you will be in a better position to address your situation with your boss better. All the best! ^EO

  14. wat an encouragement message.sometyms we r blinded by emotions n we even feel lyk leaving the job.thank you very much.this message will keep me moving.its a good encouragement.

  15. I have a very hard, work study boss at campus, should I move to another department?It is only one and a half months I have worked with him or should I wait for a shortwhile?

    • Hi Fredrick,

      Thank you for that question. We totally understand how frustrating this must be for you. The brightermonday career center is here to help you understand just how best to handle that situation. Kindly read through the article once more carefully this time. This will basically help you get an insight on what are the best ways to manage your situation. Maybe if you also gave yourself enough time to actually apply the solutions suggested above then you would be at a better position to answer that question about you quitting/changing departments. All the best ^EO

  16. very educative advice,i feel encouraged and hope to have a good working relationship with my boss,thanks.

    • Well noted. Thank you for that feedback Dennis. Keep it here for more informative articles such as this. Cheers ^EO

  17. Thank you very much for your exhortation. Sometimes you feel like to leave your job and find another place..Thank you again

    • Thank you for shating Tatu. We hope this helps you understand how to handle that situation with your boss. All the best ^EO

    • Hi Purity,

      We truly understand your perspective and that’s why we shall continue posting such helpful articles.

      Once more we thank you for your patronage.


  18. Yet another Fantastic article. One more addition, know the Boss and “the boss”. The latter is worse than the former. Be at peace with her and you’ll More than likely be at peace with him.

  19. Am so helped by this article and i hope to establish a better relationship with my provocative boss. I am gona try to establish a better relation with him and kip a good relationship with other workers too so that when am leaving, its not based on emotions. How can i deal with my emotions? they always get to me. Please help

    • Hi Maria,
      You can focus on things that motivate you, so that you have the right mindset and attitude to be productive.


    • Hello Alfie,
      Thanks for the audience.
      stay tuned for more informative articles, And tell your friends follow our career center page.


  20. Thanks. I think the first thing is to be stress free to every situation.The bad boss will lose morale after realising that you can’t be swept away by any wind.

    • Hello Sarah,
      Well Said, thank you very much for your contribution.
      Stay tuned for more informative articles.


    • Hello Lucy,
      Thank you for taking time to go through our articles. Keep visiting our career center for more insightful articles.


  21. Thanks for the good work. Recently you advertised for CIVTEK AFRICA jobs but there was no address to receive application. Kindly also tell us the deadline.

    • Hello Sophie
      We always conduct due diligence. However do share the job title and company name and our quality assurance team will make a follow up.
      Kindly send us our email address that you used to register your BrighterMonday account via and we will make a follow up with you.


  22. thanks a lot very encouraging am going to share it to my friends also another thing is to ignore what might distablise your minds thanks

    • Thanks Allan,
      We appreciate your readership and writing to us.
      Feel free to pass this information to your colleagues so that they also can share their testimonies to others.
      Keep it brighter monday for more edifying articles.


    • Hi Modestar.
      Thanks a lot for your feedback.
      Keep writing to us, we appreciate your engagement.


    • Thanks for the feedback Joseph.
      Keep visiting our career center for more informative articles.


    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks a lot for your readership and support.
      Keep it here for more inspiring articles.


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