How to deal with a bad manager
In an ideal world, professionals would never have to deal with a ‘bad’ manager. However, it is a situation that trainees may find themselves in at one point or another during their careers.
It is worth flagging that defining a ‘bad’ manager is ultimately subjective and will differ for every accountant. That said there are certain managerial traits that are widely undesirable, such as micromanagement, credit-stealing, being unapproachable or unprofessional.
‘If you find yourself being subject to this, my first piece of advice would be to set boundaries,’ says Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance. ‘Setting boundaries doesn’t have to be daunting, it can simply be communicating to your manager the length of time you will require to complete a project or that you are not in a position to answer emails after a certain time.
‘I would also adjust your mindset when it comes to your “bad manager” – granted this can be easier said than done, but appreciate that your manager may not be aware that their leadership style is unfavourable.’
It is key to communicate professionally with your boss – instead of critiquing their managerial skills, it is worth considering an approach to highlight what type of environment you need to succeed in terms of direction, feedback and support.
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Owen adds: ‘If these steps don’t help and, ultimately, your values and morals differ too greatly from your boss, I would consider transferring teams or perhaps looking elsewhere.
‘I would not view this as a failure or letting them “win”; I would see this as a learning curve as you will be aware of what you are after from your next manager and what to look out for during the interview process.’
Harvard Business Review also recommends making requests to get what you need.
It advises trainees to ‘be specific about the resources and support you need to do your job, explain your rationale and articulate how this will benefit them and the organisation. Think about timing and try to have these conversations when your boss is calm and in an upbeat mood. Make sure to prepare, practise and anticipate reactions.’
It is always a good idea to engage with your support network to help deal with what can be emotionally challenging situations. Surround yourself with friends and people who support and encourage you.
There are other aspects you can consider that are certain to help.
Get plenty of exercise and sleep because taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is essential. If possible, consider taking time off work and find activities away from work that help you de-stress and focus on alternatives.
Author: Alex Miller, writer
This article was first published in Student Accountant in January 2022