How to Deal with a Toxic Boss

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For sure nobody wants to work with toxic bosses such as those who take all credit but blame others when facing failure, but you better learn how to deal with them even when you're able to get rid of one now because there are always such people out there.

Identify the toxic boss

According to Robert Half, not only do toxic people take credit for the work of their colleagues and or sub-ordinates, they also belittle each other’s efforts to make themselves look good.

Barbara Kellerman—the James MacGregor Buns Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School—suggests in her book "Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters" that the basic toxic traits of a leader include the followings:

  • incompetence
  • rigidity
  • intemperance
  • callousness
  • corruption
  • insularity
  • evil

If you wonder whether or not you’re dealing with a toxic boss, you might want to refer to this article “7 Signs of a Toxic Manager That Should Be Stopped Immediately” .

What to do with a toxic boss

Make requests

Mary Abbajay, president and co-founder of US-headquartered organizational and leadership development consultancy Careerstone Group, advised that people should make requests rather than giving feedback when facing a toxic boss because he or she might not be open to hearing feedback about his or her failings.

When making a request, you have to be specific about the resources and support you need to do your job, explain your rationale and articulate the benefits to your boss and the organization, she writes.

You should also make your requests when your toxic boss is calm, she noted.

Be prepared: Your toxic boss could dismiss you the minute you give notice

If you really have to quit your job, Abbajay said a truly toxic boss could dismiss you the minute you give notice. So make sure you should prepare for it by having organized your personal belongings, contact information, important papers, and commendations before you hand in your notice.

Get proper documentation, just in case your boss accuses you of stealing

Your truly toxic boss might claim you’ve stolen something. To avoid that, make sure you’ve returned all company property promptly and properly and get proper documentation stating that you’ve returned all items, she advised.

Don’t bad-mouth the toxic boss

In a job interview and after getting a new job, you should stay professional by resisting the urge to bad mouth your toxic boss, she added. That’s because the HR manager who interviews you probably doesn’t know your boss and all he or she sees is unprofessional behavior.

While not all managers are toxic, there might be some whom you find it difficult to respect.

Tomorrow, we’ll feature the advice of an author of Rhymer Rigby—FM magazine contributor and author of The Careerist: Over 100 Ways to Get Ahead at Work.

If you have tips on how to deal with toxic bosses, you're welcome to send us an email ([email protected]). Upon your request, we keep your anonymity If your advice/experience is published.