Breaking Up With a Bad Boss

Most of us have worked with them.  The boss that belittles, micromanages, and completely makes your life hell.

Having-a-bad-boss-isnt-your-fault_optThey become a legend in your own mind.  You give them power they really don’t have.  There will be people who believe them, however, because of the way they deal with their fear by being mean and/or manipulative, others can see this.  If you allow them to control how you interact with people (or don’t) even if you leave they still have control over you.

You have feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and can fall into a depression. It can affect your physical health.  (Some people even suffer from PTSD after particularly abusive work situations.)

Your view of the world becomes distorted and you view everything through the lens of “the boss is in control”

Yes, they may say some horrible things about you to other people.  However, don’t be so paranoid that you become someone that you are not.  If you spend all of your time worrying about what they are going to do to you and your reputation after you are gone then you might as well stay in the job.  They are still controlling you.

Continue to be the awesome person you are. awesome

This is why it is important to be involved in outside committees, workshops, conferences, places where others in your profession can not only see you, but work with you.  You can only snow people for so long.  They will be able to tell what kind of worker and person you are from working on committees with you.

Be part of Social Media groups where you can meet and get to know other professionals.  For librarians I suggest ALATT and the Library Employee Support Network (LESN) for starters.  ALATT is large and full of amazing people, however, if you are still stinging and aren’t ready for critique yet you might want to start with LESN.  This group is set up for people in difficult work situations and for folks having difficulty finding work.  It is not an echo chamber–there is some tough love there–however any critique is done politely and gently.  Just enough to jolt you back into the real world.

Most of all I recommend counseling.  Find one that works for you.

Don’t look for outside validation to make you feel better about yourself, though.  Only you can do that.  You can, however, seek out people you have worked with or who know your work to supplement what you already know.  That you are good at what you do.

It is no different than a breakup with a significant other.  We develop strong relationships at work with our supervisors and coworkers, even if we don’t see them outside of work.  They are people who influence and impact our daily lives.  They can be positive or negative relationships.  It is important that you realize this, and their impact on you, and act accordingly.

In this economy it is difficult to make a decision to leave a job, however, you must also calculate the cost of staying emotionally as well as financially.  If you are in a bad place emotionally it makes it hard to find another job.

learn from a bad bossLook at what you can learn from this experience.  There are always places you can improve and sometimes there is a kernel of truth in the meanness.  Something that a nicer boss would have said as constructive criticism.  Look past the mean to the heart.  If it is still just mean and untruthful then wad that one up and throw it away mentally and never go there again.  It’s done.  Move on.

Get counseling, build an outside network, remind yourself that you are good, and make sure you don’t pack that boss in your luggage when you move on.