Your bad boss doesn’t have to ruin your office happiness. Make your boss’s behavior benefit you.
Your boss is incompetent, mean, narcissistic, completely unlovable — or worse.
Instead of letting your boss’s abhorrent behavior plague your office happiness or hamper your career, turn that behavior to your advantage.
You’re not likely to ever love the bad behavior, but you don’t have to let it get the best of you. You can love what that behavior teaches you: How to work that boss to up your factor, be happier at work and get the most out of your career.
Here’s how your boss’s bad behavior benefits you:
1. You look smart
Chances are, your bad boss is running scared from something deep inside, and either doesn’t know what it is or won’t cop to it. That’s where you can be smarter than your boss. Discover what he’s running from and use it to your advantage.
For example, a laidback boss may seem restful at first, hardly bad at all. Yet he’s really a true career killer, because he never gives you anything: no direction, no guidance, no resources, no support. Nada.
Your boss is terrified of managing anything, much less people, yet needs his position because it allows him the freedom to work on some pet project, his golf game or who knows what.
Terrific. Take charge of your job. Create checklists of tasks and required resources and get him to sign off on them. Keep a record of projects accomplished and goals reached. You’ll have liberated your boss from managing you, which will make you his number one most valued employee, while assuring your own success.
2. You acquire critical skills
Your bad boss’s behavior is a constant example of how not to behave in the workplace. After all, it’s often easier to recognize and learn from bad behavior — like the boss who rewards ego-stroking employees instead of those who actually do the work — than to notice the positive.
You can learn a lot from observing your boss’s behavior, like why playing favorites is a dirty game, how blame never solves anything and how ignoring workers’ suggestions or ideas is counterproductive. By practicing good workplace behavior that leads to rich relationships, you’ll be much more prepared for promotion.
3. You become resilient
Even from a bad boss, can be an opportunity for improvement. Take the classic finger-pointer boss, whose negative feedback comes in the form of a blame tirade. While a good boss stays on task by focusing comments on your work, a bad boss’s communication is so larded with ego it shuts down your ability to hear what she says.
Even if 90 percent of her tirade has nothing to do with you, glean what constitutes a job well done in her mind and aim to fix whatever she’s blasting off about. By training yourself to ignore the yelling and become her problem-solver, you’ll deliver what she wants, and in turn get what you want.
4. You gain control
Consider an egomaniacal boss who may be brilliant, but her constant outpouring of ideas, edicts and demands results in workplace chaos because she fails to organize and manage effectively.
Yet she craves the adoration that comes from constant success. Anyone who can make order out of her “do this!” becomes a trusted wingman — especially if you’re smart enough to keep your opinions to yourself and demonstrate complete loyalty.
Since she needs you to achieve her own success, she inadvertently puts you in control, giving you a leg up.
5. Your strengths shine
Your bad boss forces you to use your personality and work-related strengths in ways you never thought possible.
Let’s say you’re a pleaser employee, always going the extra mile, never saying no to your boss. You’re exhausted all the time, and no wonder. Transform that pleaser self into a strength by aiming to please yourself, not your boss.
Rather than run to get your egomaniacal boss another latte, figure out how to translate her impossible demands into a realistic, achievable goal.
While by taking on more work may be effective in some scenarios, doing so with a bad boss will backfire. Never were the words, “work smarter, not harder” more true than with a bad boss. ( to tweet this thought.) Once you know what drives your bad boss, you can use your strengths in a deliberate way to work your boss for your own success.
, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, business trial consultant and the author of 12 books, including her most recent, (2013). At the core of Noelle’s books, leadership seminars and consulting practice is the power of appreciation: how to be happier, healthier and more successful at work, at home and in relationships.