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What to do if your boss is a dick

It pains me to say it, but I’m going to anyway –  it’s rare to have a good boss in a large corporate environment.

Unfortunately people often get promoted to at least one level of incompetence, sometimes two. What do I mean by this? I mean that people get promoted based on circumstances or number of years of service rather than any competence based criteria.

Sometimes with this promotion comes the responsibility of managing others and this means that at some point in your career you will end with a boss who is a dick. Someone who doesn’t know what to do with you. Doesn’t know (or care) how to help you progress your career. Doesn’t take time to understand your skill set and your weaknesses. Hell, somedays they might not even talk to you at all.

Which leaves you in a dilemma of what to do. Do you try super hard to change them? Do you give up and do as little as possible each day? Do you get the hump and bitch and moan about it to anyone who will listen?

These are all options, but they aren’t the best choice. Trust me – I know personally it’s really not a nice place to be (from past experiences, not present), but there are some things that you can do to ease the pain and take something positive from it and a bunch of stuff you should be careful to avoid.

Here’s the things not to do (tempting as they might be):

  1. Suck up to them – they love themselves enough already, they don’t need your plaudits to further enlarge the ego. Also this will only make you feel worse as you are being fake and not showing personal integrity

  2. Ignore them and hope they go away – For whatever reason they got promoted and ended up being your boss, so chances are they ain’t going anywhere soon. If you try to ignore them then you are only going to increase your personal frustration as their constant presence

  3. Think you can change them – working with integrity and trying to be a positive example to others is awesome. But if you do this with the intention of trying to change the way someone else behaves or the expectation that if you show them what good looks like they will become a different person you will end up disappointed. It’s not gonna happen.

  4. Try to out dick the dick – if you try to play them at their own game and become arrogant, rude and uncaring, then guess what – now you are a dick too.


Here’s the things that you could consider:

  1. Set your ground rules – sit down by yourself and write down what you’re willing to accept and what you’re not. How you are prepared to be spoken to and how you’re not. It’s important that you are clear within yourself what your limits are. This will allow you to set expectations with the dick.

  2. Take your foot off the gas (a little) – focus on doing what is necessary but don’t worry about going the extra mile and pushing yourself to be the best you can be. If you are not going to get any recognition or gratitude then what’s the point in busting a gut? Use the time to take the pressure off yourself and unwind a little (but only to the point where you maintain your integrity)

  3. Become selfish – your boss is going to be a dick anyway, so you may as well focus on the things you enjoy, can learn from or will help other people more.

  4. Share your pain – not in a gossipy type way, but in a sharing it with your friends and loved ones way. Let them know that you are grumpy about the situation and why. Help them to understand why there’s not a spring in your step and you’re being a bit more short tempered than normal.

  5. Start planning for the next step – if this is only going to go one way (with you quitting), then set the wheels in motion early. Test the market place. Talk to former colleagues and recruiters. Get a sense of what’s out there and what you are worth.

  6. Quit – If things are so bad that you dred going into work, you’re getting depressed or you just fundamentally disagree with the dick on well, everything, then walk. Don’t wait. Don’t flap. Be decisive and let them deal with the consequences. Life is short after all.


If you’re in this place at the moment then please take some comfort that not every boss or place of work is the same. Not every boss is a dick. Whilst common, it’s not the norm. But if your current boss is, then know that you can do better. You deserve better.

Don’t let them dominate or ruin your life. If they want to be a dick then that’s up to them, you have little control over that, but you can control what you do. You can turn it round if you want to. You can use this to your advantage. Decide what you want and become the master of your own destiny.

Good luck.

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