Are you currently working for a manipulative or toxic boss and want to resolve the issues between you?
If you want actionable steps on how to deal with a toxic boss, this article will present you with 1) how to clearly identify the traits of a toxic manager and 2)some key strategies on how to resolve the issues between you.
How to Deal with a Toxic Boss
As cited in the Indeed and Glassdoor Report of 2023 detailing reasons for wanting a new job for employed workers in the age range of 25-54 who are seeking a new job, being Unhappy with Manager, is 5th on the list. The four reasons above that reason are the following in order of importance: Higher Pay, Want Remote Job, Change Career Path, and More Flexibility.
Even though it is 5th on the list, being unhappy with a manager could be the sole reason an employee decides to leave a company, especially if that manager is considered toxic.
Life with a boss who isn’t looking out for your best interests can certainly sap your positive energy at work. It can make every working day a miserable experience. I’ve been there and I’m sure you have been there at one time in your working career.
I had a boss who intentionally embarrassed me in front of a group by asking me to give a presentation, after we had already sat down in a meeting, without any prior warning. As a result, I could not prepare at all for it and ended up nervously doing the best I could do.
This is just an example of a mean boss who was trying to sabotage me to try to make me look bad in front of my coworkers. This is one of the many tell-tale symptoms of a manipulative boss.
What is a Toxic Boss?
A boss who is considered toxic is a manager or supervisor who exhibits negative behaviors that impact their employees’ well-being, positive energy, and ultimately their productivity. These behaviors can range from micromanaging to bullying and harassment. They can have a significant impact on an employee’s mental and emotional health and quality of life in the office.
Toxic bosses can create a work environment that is stressful, demotivating, and oftentimes hostile. This can lead to high turnover rates and low morale. Needless to say, it’s important for a company to keep close tabs on any toxic manager who exhibits any of these characteristics. A manager of this type could negatively impact employee productivity ultimately affecting the company’s bottom line.
When your boss makes you feel incompetent is a bona fide tip-off that you’re dealing with a toxic boss. They can create a culture of fear and mistrust, which can lead to poor communication and collaboration among employees. Employees may find themselves walking on eggshells when dealing with a bad manager.
Additionally, toxic managers may prioritize their own interests over those of the company or team, leading to poor decision-making and a lack of accountability. These manipulative bosses oftentimes exhibit narcissistic tendencies and will always blame the employee for their own shortcomings.
In short, a bad manager can have a significant negative impact on both employees and the organization as a whole, making it crucial to recognize and address toxic behavior in the workplace before it ends up in employees leaving the company.
The Importance of Dealing with a Bad Boss
Dealing with toxic manager behavior is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment.
By taking steps to address the behavior of a manipulative boss, employees can reduce their stress levels and create a more positive work environment. Maybe you’ve noticed signs your boss is threatened by you which could be adding to or actually creating his hostility towards you.
Maybe you’ve noticed signs your boss is leaving such as his lack of energy in team meetings, increased time off, and showing an obvious dissatisfaction toward the company.
Ultimately, recognizing and dealing with a boss who is toxic is essential for both the well-being of employees and the success of the company.
How to Identify Toxic Boss Signs – Detecting a Toxic Manager
Toxic boss signs are obvious in a workplace setting. Once you have seen them or experienced them, you certainly will know it. Detecting a toxic manager will be clearly answered below.
5 Toxic Manager Traits
- A micromanaging boss’s characteristics can be identified as clear as day. A micromanager wants to control every aspect of their employees’ work, leaving no room for autonomy or creativity.
- They are quick to criticize and slow to praise, creating a negative or hostile work environment.
- They are rigid and inflexible in their approach to work and unwilling to consider alternative perspectives or ideas.
- They don’t trust their employees to do their jobs properly and feel the need to constantly monitor and scrutinize their work.
- Communicates Poorly
- Another unmistakable toxic boss trait is poor communication. By not clearly communicating the employees are at a loss as to what their managers wants from them and do not have clearly-defined goals.
- Bullying Behavior
- More often than not, a mean boss will also be a bully. Bullying behavior is exhibited in comments or actions meant to intimidate, embarrass, or degrade an individual or group of employees such as a whole department. This type of behavior is not uncommon when it comes to a manipulative or mean boss.
- Shows Favoritism
- Rather than treating all of his employees fairly, a toxic or manipulative boss will make it a point to show favoritism to one or two of his employees. This will not only create an atmosphere of inequity among the remaining employees but can also lead to hostility. If you are the favorite, you may be the one who has noticed signs coworkers are intimidated by you.
- Sabotages His Employees
- The example I cited earlier in this article when my boss asked me to give a presentation in the middle of a meeting with another department’s workers without any prior warning is a prime example of a boss trying to sabotage an employee. If he was at all looking out for my well-being and standing within the company he would have asked me to prepare for the presentation ahead of time. Instead, I embarrassed myself by trying to deliver a subject I was unprepared to discuss.
Dealing with a Toxic Boss
There are some actionable steps you can take when dealing with a toxic manager. They are detailed below.
5 Strategies for Dealing with a Bad Boss
1. Keep a Detailed Record of the Incidents
Once you have identified your boss as a toxic manager, you should keep a detailed Excel spreadsheet, Google sheet, or Word document with a table of any incident which demonstrates those toxic traits. It doesn’t have to be just those incidents in which you have been targeted. It could be that one of your coworkers was embarrassed or singled out in a meeting.
Some of the criteria you might want to include in the table would be the following which also includes two samples of incident information entries.
Toxic Manager Incident Report Table
|Date of Incident||Time||Location||Employees Involved||Description|
|4/2/2023||3:15 PM EST||Revere Board Room||Jim Johnson, Sally Grimes,|
Bill Siegal, and our boss Harry Jacobson
|Our manager, Harry Jacobson, in a meeting, humiliated each one of us by stating that he felt we were all unfit for our jobs. He said “I could find better employees smoking outside the corner store down the street.”|
|My Cubicle||My boss, Harry Jacobson, and me (Bill Siegal)||Mr. Jacobson came over to me and berated me for a presentation I gave the previous day. He said “That was the worst presentation I have seen in all the years I’ve been working for this company!“|
2. Communicate Your Concerns
Whenever you feel your boss has demonstrated toxic boss traits, you should make it a point to meet with him to express your concerns. You could also include an additional column entitled “Actions Taken” in the table above detailing a meeting you had with your boss and what came out of the meeting. It essentially gives you evidence that you initiated a meeting to speak about the incident.
3. Seek Support from Colleagues or Human Resources
As a result of the incidents identified you are compelled to seek some support from colleagues or, as a last resort, Human Resources. When I was intentionally embarrassed in a meeting by my boss, I immediately went and spoke to one of the managers who happened to be at the meeting. I knew her pretty well so I knew that I could confide in her.
She noticed what happened and told me I did a decent job with the presentation even though I knew it was a very uncomfortable situation. But she certainly thought it was odd for my manager to put me on the spot that way. She told me to hang in there and that I might want to meet with my manager which I did.
Speaking to Human Resources is probably the last straw when it comes to dealing with a toxic manager. At that point you probably have a detailed list of many incidents showing those toxic traits.
4. Set Boundaries
Even though you are the employee, setting boundaries is a smart strategy for dealing with a manipulative manager. This involves establishing some clear limits on what you are willing to do, and clearly communicating those boundaries to your boss. It would also make sense to detail this meeting in your documentation identifying the boundaries.
For example, you may set a boundary around the hours you work or the tasks you are willing to take on. This will give you a level of satisfaction in that you are standing up to unreasonable demands. By setting these boundaries, it could reduce the likelihood of your boss taking advantage of you or making unreasonable demands in the future.
It can also help to create a more balanced and sustainable work-life balance, which can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.
Don’t be afraid to say no when it comes to your boss asking you to take on unreasonable tasks. If you set these clear boundaries with your boss it will not only make you feel better, it might awaken within him the fact that he has been unfair to you and possibly to other employees within your department.
You need to keep your meetings with him professional and respectful because you know you are dealing with a person who is typically unreasonable and oftentimes displays bullying behavior.
Once again, documenting your meetings is important not only for your own historical account but also if this leads to an eventual meeting with Human Resources to resolve the issues between you and your manipulative boss.
5. Consider Leaving Your Job
After you have done all that you can do, you may have no other option than start to put feelers out there for a new position. You’ve met with your boss on multiple times but no progress has been made. You took that last resort and set up a meeting with Human Resources to express your grievances.
That not only didn’t help but it just exacerbated the issues between you and your boss. You certainly now have good reasons for job change and start looking at jobs in LinkedIn. You can be happy with yourself in that you took some actionable steps to try to resolve your differences but it just didn’t work out.
You can, at a minimum, look at this experience as a learning one, and in the future, you will be quicker to identify the toxic manager traits. Hopefully, you’ll never have to go through this type of experience again.
Recap of How to Deal with a Toxic Boss
Identifying and dealing with a toxic boss is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Once you identify the traits of a toxic boss you can make it a point to document any incidents which may occur between you and your manipulative manager or with others.
Dealing with a toxic boss can be challenging but there are some actionable steps you can take to address the toxic behavior of your boss. Keep a detailed record of the incidents, communicate your concerns, seek support from colleagues or Human Resources, set boundaries with your boss, and, if all else fails, consider leaving the company.
If you can work through the issues you have with your boss by implementing some, or all, of the steps identified above, you’ll be a better employee as a result. You’ll also be one of those who has enhanced the culture and environment of your workplace.
If it doesn’t work out, you always have an opportunity to move onto greener pastures but will be a much more experienced and savvy employee as a result.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dealing with a Toxic Boss
How can I tell if my boss is toxic, or if I’m just being overly sensitive?
It can be difficult to determine whether your boss is truly toxic or if you are just overly sensitive to their management style. However, there are a few signs to look out for that may indicate a toxic work environment, such as frequent yelling, belittling or demeaning comments, micromanaging, and a lack of support or recognition for your work.
Additionally, if you find yourself feeling anxious, stressed, or unhappy when you think about going to work, it may be a sign that your boss is toxic. If you are always looking for excuses for working from home, it could be you can’t stand being around your boss because of his demeanor toward you. It is important to trust your instincts and seek out support from colleagues or a mental health professional if you are unsure about your situation.
What should I do if my toxic boss is also a high-performing employee or otherwise difficult to replace?
Dealing with a toxic boss who is also a high-performing employee can be a challenging situation, as it may be difficult for your employer to justify taking action against them. However, it is important to remember that your mental health and well-being should always come first.
Consider speaking with HR or a trusted supervisor about your concerns, and provide specific examples of the toxic behavior you have experienced. You should always keep a log of the incidents that have occurred in the past so that you have ammunition when you do speak to HR.
If necessary, you may also want to consider looking for a new job or transferring to a different department within your organization.
How can I maintain my own mental health and well-being while dealing with a bad boss?
Dealing with a bad boss can take a toll on your mental health and well-being, so it is important to take steps to care for yourself. This may include setting boundaries with your boss, such as limiting your interactions with him or avoiding certain topics of conversation that may have been volatile in the past.
Additionally, seek out support from colleagues, friends, or a mental health professional to help you cope with the stress and anxiety of the situation. Many companies provide access to therapists at no cost or little cost so take advantage of this perk if it applies to you.
It is also important to prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy. Finally, consider exploring options for leaving the toxic work environment, such as finding a new job or transferring to a different department within your organization.
What to Read Next:
- What is Office Lighting that Mimics Sunlight?
- Tips to Being the Best Coworker You Can Be
- What Does a Second Interview Mean? [and Ten 2nd Interview Tips]
- What’s a Good Reason to Leave Work Early? [20 Bona Fide Reasons]
- 13 Indisputable and Powerful Signs You Got the Job
Bob has been blogging for over 20 years and has been an office and cubicle dweller for more than 35 years. He has been featured in numerous online publications such as US News and World Report, Bustle, and Work Awesome (you can read his articles here). He created the popular office website CubicleBliss in January 2011 and rebranded it as WorkspaceBliss in April 2020.
In the office he’s been an IT Manager, Applications Engineer, Systems Analyst, Software Project leader, and Programmer Analyst in his long career. He’s a Certified Microsoft Professional and possesses a Masters of Science degree and two Bachelor of Science degrees, one of those in Informational Technology.
During his career he has worked in the office full-time, as a hybrid remote worker, and has worked from home permanently.