April is Stress Awareness Month. Seventy-five percent of working adults say the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss according to Hogan Assessment Systems. Many of those bosses are bad bosses. It is important for workers to find ways to reduce work stress despite having a terrible boss because the stress can literally kill you, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of Got a Bad Boss? Work that Boss to Get What You Want at Work (Amazon eBook, $7.99). One study found that people who have stressful jobs and little freedom to make decisions are 23 percent more likely to experience a heart attack
Nelson offers these suggestions to help reduce the stress level when working with different types of bad bosses.
“If your boss is always blaming others (usually you), it is because he has a desperate need to always appear successful. If there is a mistake, taking the blame doesn’t fit into his game plan, so no matter the mess up, he blames others,” Nelson explains.
“Be the one who helps this finger-pointer boss succeed by taking the responsibility to fix--one way or another—whatever problems arise,” explains Nelson. “He’ll stop pointing the finger at you, and start bringing you into the loop. Eventually, this will allow you to avert disasters rather than just do damage control. As he discovers he can trust you to fix problems, you become valuable to him--and to the company. Now you’re working toward your success.”
For incompetent bosses, the stress-reducing fix is a little tougher. “These types of bosses are under the delusion that they are competent, but deep down they fear they’ll be revealed as the lazy and irresponsible individuals that they are,” says Nelson. “Your goal should be to make her look competent. Prioritize your workload with your boss so you are both clear on what you’ll tackle first. Clarify what your boss’s expectations are for each new task. Check in with your incompetent boss often so you can actually do your work with minimal waste of time, energy and resources. Whether your boss moves on or not, you will have created enough of a personal track record to move you to the next position you covet.
“Avoiding a bad boss, fighting with the boss or badmouthing the boss to anyone who will listen won’t reduce your long-term stress. It’s momentary relief at best and harmful to your career at worst,” says Nelson. “Instead, become your boss’s ally. Find a way to work with your bad boss so he gets what he wants so you can get what you want. As distasteful as this sounds, it’s really the only way to get the success you deserve without a lot of stress.”