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How to Work Around a Poor Manager

By Rad Aswani

If you’re fed up thinking ‘my boss sucks’ and feeling unheard, you’ve come to the right place. Discover actionable strategies to improve your work situation, address managerial mishaps, and navigate toward professional satisfaction—even with a less-than-ideal boss.

Key takeaways

  • Documenting accomplishments and seeking peer support help ensure recognition of work contributions in the face of credit-hogging bosses, while communicating successes tactfully can mitigate perceptions of boasting.
  • Proactive strategies, such as initiating regular check-ins, seeking clarification, and advocating for more training, can improve work outcomes in environments with poor management communication.
  • Addressing micromanagement includes establishing trust through excellence, setting clear boundaries, and proposing solutions that promote autonomy in the workplace, thereby reducing managerial overinvolvement.

Young workers arrive in the workplace keen to please, and are easy for poor managers to exploit. Older workers might be ground down by poor workplace culture, while some poor managers move quickly between businesses before their practices get them fired. Whatever the culture, dealing with a poor leader or manager requires skill and patience. 

When your boss takes all the credit: addressing misappropriation of effort

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Imagine working tirelessly on a project, only to have your boss present it as their own brainchild. When bad managers take credit for their employees’ work, it can demoralize the staff and negatively impact their professional recognition and opportunities. It’s like a chef taking all the credit for a dish, while the sous chef did all the cooking! This misappropriation of effort is an example of the traits that bad bosses exhibit. Some other traits of bad bosses include:

  • Micromanaging
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of empathy
  • Favoritism
  • Lack of recognition and appreciation

If you work under a bad boss, it is important to address the issue and seek support from colleagues or HR. But how should you respond in these situations? Let’s explore.

Document your contributions

It’s important to keep a record of your work achievements. Think of this as your professional diary, where you log every project you’ve completed, every task you’ve accomplished, and even those brilliant ideas you’ve shared in team meetings.

The value of online collaboration tools like Kumospace is that it is easy to document your contribution, highlight progress step-by-step, and prove your value before your manager claims the credit. 

This tangible evidence of your input will underscore your value to the team and ensure your efforts are recognized. So, the next time your boss tries to take all the credit, your documented achievements will speak volumes about your contribution.

Seek peer support

In the workplace, your colleagues can be your greatest allies. Building rapport with them can create a support network that may advocate for your work contributions during team interactions. It’s like having your own cheerleading squad! Doing that online is a great way to build a body of proven support. 

Cultivating these relationships can lead to new opportunities for growth and increased visibility. So, don’t hesitate to seek peer support—it might just be the lifeline you need to combat a poor boss's machinations.

In the remote workplace, especially with Kumospace, it is easy to see where your manager spends their time and can identify trends that suggest poor management and workplace, checking in on colleagues who you think might also feel the same. 

Communicate successes tactfully

While it’s crucial to celebrate your victories, it’s equally important to communicate them tactfully. You don’t want to come across as boastful, do you? The solution lies in the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Results). You can foster relatability and avoid appearing boastful by relating challenges and failures when sharing success stories.

Acknowledging the contributions of others and showing appreciation for their help also highlights your humility and teamwork.

Navigating poor communication with your manager

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Another common trait of bad bosses is poor communication. When instructions are as clear as mud, the resulting confusion can lead to frequent frustration and a constant fear of tackling the wrong task or doing the right task poorly. But, as the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Even in situations with poor communication, you can still shine by employing the right strategies:

  • Ask for clarification when instructions are unclear
  • Take detailed notes during meetings and conversations
  • Repeat back instructions to ensure understanding
  • Seek feedback and ask for regular check-ins
  • Communicate proactively and keep your boss informed of your progress

By implementing these strategies, you can navigate the challenges of poor communication and still excel in your role. And, pushing for better communication tools, can help limit the damage caused by poor bosses.  

If that fails, reporting your issues to human resources can help the business deal with the problem. There may have been other reports about a poor boss, that workers have otherwise kept quiet about, and the weight of evidence can be used to retrain them, or move them on.

Initiate regular check-ins

Imagine you’re piloting a plane in the middle of a storm. Regular check-ins with the control tower can provide crucial updates and help you navigate the turbulence. The same principle applies in the workplace. Establishing a regular schedule for check-ins with your boss can enhance mutual trust, improve communication, and foster a positive learning environment.

Check-ins should be structured with a clear agenda and include discussions of expectations and feedback to demonstrate responsibility and reduce your boss’s need to micromanage.

Clarify ambiguities

Clarity is the antidote to confusion. Therefore, clarifying questions before beginning a task minimizes the risk of misinterpretation and errors, thus reducing the fear of doing something wrong. Written documentation when seeking clarification can act as your roadmap, guiding you through your tasks and serving as a reference when needed.

So, don’t hesitate to ask targeted questions to ensure that the manager's information is clear and your understanding of the task is precise.

Advocate for more training

Regarding poor communication, management training can serve as a powerful bridge to understanding. Training fills knowledge gaps and ensures employees understand their tasks clearly, especially when management communication is poor. By proactively seeking out training, you can avoid errors and mishandling projects due to misunderstandings.

So, don’t wait for training opportunities to come your way. Advocate for your training needs by requesting clarification and ensuring you have the skills required to manage your work effectively.

Dealing with micromanagement without losing your cool

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Have you ever had a boss who wanted to control every detail, every process, every move you made? Welcome to the world of micromanagement! Micromanagement often stems from a manager’s lack of trust, need for control, and fear of failure. But this constant oversight stifles employee creativity and productivity, removing trust and autonomy from their work.

So, how can you navigate this situation without losing your cool? Let’s dive in.

Establish trust through excellence

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and the same applies to your relationship with your boss. Delivering high-quality work consistently is key to gaining your boss’s trust. Meeting deadlines reinforces your manager’s confidence in your abilities, strengthening a more trusting relationship.

So, let your work do the talking and establish a trust-based relationship with your boss through your excellence.

Set boundaries proactively

Setting boundaries is like drawing a line in the sand. It tells others what you will and won’t tolerate. In the workplace, boundaries ensure a comfortable work environment and maintain your work-life balance.

It’s important to set clear expectations around communication and articulate the benefits of respecting boundaries for both you and your boss.

Propose solutions that empower autonomy

If you’ve ever felt like your boss is constantly breathing down your neck, it’s time to propose solutions that promote autonomy. Discussing how to delegate tasks with the boss and suggesting trustworthy colleagues for tasks can help reduce the manager’s pressures and empower employee autonomy.

By assisting bosses in meeting their goals and taking the initiative to solve problems autonomously, you can lead to personal growth and acknowledgment of your leadership capabilities through leadership development.

Transforming a toxic work environment: your role as an employee

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If you’ve ever felt stuck in a toxic work environment, remember that you’re not powerless. As an employee, you can play a significant role in transforming your work culture. The shift to remote work has heightened the challenge of micromanagement, often leading employees to feel stressed and less productive.

Yet, by emphasizing the power of positive engagement and trust building, you can instigate a change toward a healthier work environment.

Lead by example

There’s a saying that actions speak louder than words. As an employee, you can inspire change by leading by example. Demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes you wish to see in others sets a standard for the team. So, be the change you wish to see in your workplace!

In collaboration tools like Kumospace, it is easy to see the flow of conversations and productivity, and put yourself forward to lead over the efforts of a poor manager.

Offer constructive feedback

Feedback is a two-way street. It’s not just about receiving it, but also about giving it. Constructive feedback fosters improvement and better working relationships.

So, don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. Share your feedback and contribute to creating a healthier work environment.

Support team initiatives

Teamwork makes the dream work. Supporting team initiatives involves engaging in and contributing to collective efforts that enhance creativity, communication, and improvement within the team.

So, be a team player and contribute to creating a positive company culture.

Strategies for when the boss fails to recognize your hard work

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Ever felt like your hard work is going unnoticed? It’s like being a ghost in your own workplace. But don’t let this dampen your spirit. There are strategies you can employ to ensure your hard work is recognized and appreciated.

Amplify your achievements

Don’t let your achievements go unnoticed. Amplifying your achievements involves regularly reporting progress and linking your work to key business goals.

So, be your own advocate and let your achievements shine!

Engage in self-advocacy

Self-advocacy is like speaking up for yourself in a courtroom. Clearly communicating your needs and expectations directly to your employer is critical, as they may not proactively address concerns like pay raises or schedule modifications without prompting.

So, stand up for yourself and engage in self-advocacy.

Explore opportunities for growth

There’s always room for growth. Seeking additional responsibilities or projects that align with your skills can demonstrate initiative and help you grow your career within the company. So, don’t be content with just doing your job; consider expanding your job description.

Seek opportunities for growth and show your boss that you’re a valuable asset.

Identifying leadership red flags: what makes sense to tolerate?

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Not all bosses are created equal. Some are supportive and inspiring, while others… well, let’s just say they’re a handful. Identifying the red flags in leadership can help you understand what you’re dealing with and decide what makes sense to tolerate. The best managers are those who strike the right balance between support and challenge.

Assess the impact on your career

A great boss can be a stepping stone in your career, while a bad boss can be a stumbling block. Sometimes, it feels like your boss sucks, but it’s essential to focus on self-improvement and overcoming challenges. A good boss provides constructive feedback, which allows employees to improve and grow professionally, preventing any hindrance to their career progression.

So, it’s important to assess the impact of your boss’s behavior on your career progression.

Weigh personal life disruptions

Work is important, but so is your personal life. A boss requiring frequent personal sacrifices, such as last-minute late nights or working through weekends, can signal a lack of respect for an employee’s personal time. So, weigh the balance between your work hours and personal life and ensure that your job doesn’t constantly intrude on your personal time.

Decide When to Draw the Line

Every situation has a breaking point. If there are clear signs of a dead-end job, such as no promotions or challenging tasks for a few months, recognize it's time to move on.

So, be alert to these warning signs and know when it’s time to seek a healthier work environment.


A bad boss can seem like a formidable adversary in the workplace battlefield. But with the strategies we’ve explored, you’re now equipped to manage up effectively and navigate the challenges that come your way. Remember, it’s not just about surviving but thriving in your career. After all, every challenge is an opportunity for growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Rad Aswani

Rad has over 7 years of experience in Marketing. Currently, she is the fun Digital Marketer at Kumospace. She leads initiatives such as influencer marketing, SEO management, and social media to name a few. Outside of work, Rad enjoys traveling, working out, and spending time with her family and friends.

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