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  • Jay Hicks

Risk Management and the Bad Boss!


Office Space - 20 Century Fox

The military, like the civilian world, has plenty of them. How you deal with them is of paramount importance. Now that you are no longer wearing the uniform, you can no longer be voluntold. But you do need to have a method for dealing with crummy bosses. Using classic risk mitigation, you have four methods…Avoidance, Acceptance, Control or Transference.  If you understand them, you can employ these risk mitigation strategies to handle a difficult boss.


Avoiding a Bad Boss 


If a risk has unwanted negative consequences, you try to completely avoid the outcome. If you can determine if your boss is going to be difficult or the environment is going to be undesirable prior to your acceptance of the job, then you may need to make the tough call and not accept the position. If you are unsure during the interview, make sure to ask questions…which is always better than saying you have no questions. Here are a couple to try:


  • If offered the position, who will be my supervisor? (If it is not made clear during the interview)

  • Are employees encouraged to take risks?

  • What happens when people fail?

  • How does the company support professional development and career growth?

  • What would you change about the company/environment if you could?

  • What gives you a sense of pride about the company?


If the interviewer(s) don’t want you to ask questions, this may be a red flag. Remember, it is like trying on a pair of shoes and you want a good fit! After all, you are going to be spending a considerable part of your life at work. But what if all appears good and you accept the position?


Accepting a Bad Boss


This is a slippery slope. If you accept the position, know that every boss has good and bad days. If you believe the total number of good and bad days is no better or worse than anywhere else, then you’ve basically accepted the situation and said you’ll do the best you can. You may have decided the job is so good that you are going to stick it out and tolerate your boss – because they are providing employment and a means to an end or goal. If you start to think otherwise, you need to use another risk management method to regulate the risk.


Control or Reduction - Handling a Bad Boss


If it’s not possible to reduce the probability or the severity of having a difficult boss, then you want to employ some form of control to reduce the potential damage. In theory it is the bosses’ job to manage you. However, to survive, get the raises and promotions you deserve, you have to learn to control your boss. Here are several techniques:


  • Try figuring out what your boss wants from you as an employee.

  • Provide the communication and feedback they desire.

  • Be reliable! Reach goals and complete tasks on time.I hate this one…derive pleasure from making even a difficult boss happy!

  • Figure out what your boss does well and learn this from them. (Some say they learn more from bad bosses than good bosses…what not to do).


Transference – Quitting a Bad Boss


What if you can’t take it anymore? Transference means to shift the burden of risk or consequence to another party….or in this case, move on! Sounds easy, but it is challenging. People linger in bad situations too long, for unfounded concerns. Even the most successful people do not win every battle. We must recognize that moving on from an unwinnable situation is not failure. Understand toxic managers causes stress and negativity. A bad job situation is not good usage of your time, energy and the destruction of your health. In this day and age, you need not be a martyr.


Moving on from a bad boss can be a bit dicey. Burn no bridges. If you can, make sure you find a job before you depart. Tell no one of your job search until you accept a new position. Just looking for a new position can be a tremendous stress reliever. Remember, moving on

is indicative of professional maturity. 


Wishing you a lucrative transition!


Jay Hicks