It’s very easy, when you’re stuck with a Bad Boss, to adopt a “whatever” or “who cares?” attitude. After all, your Bad Boss doesn’t care about your well-being. All your Bad Boss cares about is his or her self-importance.
So you leave your work area less than neat, you don’t make that extra effort to finish a project really well, you don’t bother to participate in meetings beyond the absolutely necessary, and you certainly don’t take any initiative for improvements. Why bother?
But here’s the thing--many years ago, social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling introduced the “broken windows” theory, which goes like this:
“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”
What Wilson and Kelling found, is that vandalism occurs much more quickly as the community gives off a "no one cares" vibe. This finding has been used successfully by local police all over the nation--help a community rid itself of graffiti, broken windows and other signs of neglect, and the crime rate goes down.
How does this relate to you at work? When you show “signs of neglect” around your work area, projects, willingness to participate and so on, it’s easy for those around you not to care about you either.
So your co-workers aren’t likely to help you with much, supervisors from another department unlikely to take notice of you as an up-and-comer (they’re more likely to see you as a down-and-outer) and generally speaking, you miss out on any possibility of advancement. All of which has nothing to do with your Bad Boss.
Don’t make your situation worse than it is! Fix your “broken windows,” take pride in your work well done, and put yourself in the running for success.