What to Avoid, When Managing Your Boss

We all have bosses. Some good, and unfortunately some bad.

Managing your boss is critical if you want to ensure your career and personal success

This is a two-part article - so make sure you click through to Part 2 when you get to the end of this page, to get tips on how to manage your boss.

As an aside - as you read these two articles - be constantly asking yourself - how do the people who report to you feel about you? If YOU are the bad boss it is highly unlikely they'll tell you. So you need to super-sleuth yourself! Reflect on how you show up as a leader as you go through each point. 

Here are a few clues that managing your boss is a skill you may need to develop:

  • You aren't looking forward to going to work and interacting with your boss
  • You feel the hairs on your body stand on end when s/he comes toward you
  • You are starting to think that no matter what you do it isn't good enough
  • You have a bigger workload than you have the capacity for and things are starting to slip
  • You are consistently working late into the night and on weekends

11 things not to do when managing your boss

Here are some ways of managing your boss that are worth avoiding:

1. Assigning 100% of the blame on your boss

When things go wrong in a relationship it is never completely one-sided. As much as you may wish you could lay complete blame at your bosses feet, you can't! You are possibly contributing something to the situation. So accept responsibility for your actions and inactions. You've got a big part to play in successfully managing your boss.

  • Could it be that you haven't been completing your work to the standard expected?
  • Or,  maybe you are overwhelmed with the volume of work? And, maybe you haven't initiated a conversation with your boss, along the lines of where you are giving priority and what is slipping through the cracks?
  • Maybe when your boss asked your opinion, you didn't give it freely, because you were afraid of the 'cost' of speaking up. 

Certainly, you would expect your boss to begin the conversation in any of these situations. However, don't let his or her poor leadership cause you to jump into blame mode and lay all fault at his or her feet.

I have shown a number of my clients a process they can use, to sit with their boss and work through the challenges they are facing. Done successfully, you'll come up with an agreement that enables you to be less overwhelmed/pressured by what you have to do, AND your boss is comfortable and onboard with the agreement.

If any of those examples above resonated, check out these two articles on the Victim and Prostitute archetypes.

2. Complaining to everyone else except your boss

Those you are complaining to generally can't fix the problem. If you are guilty of being a complainer and a gossip, then you must stop it immediately.

You weaken your reputation and your soul when you gossip and complain. You want others to take you and your career seriously, right?

Nobody likes being around people like that. Instead, you should discuss with another person (someone who is not intimately involved and has an unbiased view of the situation - like a coach - click on the image below to find out more about how I can support you and your team) strategies for dealing with your boss and making the relationship healthy.

There's a world of difference between a gossip session and a strategy session.

access team coaching

3. Giving your boss a piece of your mind ...

when you are in a high state of emotion - it will only escalate the situation. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is crucial to success in life. In fact, the research is pretty clear ... your EQ far out predicts your success than your EQ. And, there's even research that show having a well developed EQ gains you about $27,000 per year! Check out the first couple of modules in the online course Performing Under Pressure - where you'll discover how to manage your emotions when under pressure.

4. Convincing yourself that you should get another job

Unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you aren't contributing at all to the situation (most unlikely) - when you leave your current job, you go with you and so does the problem.

For example, maybe you aren't as dedicated to your work as you should be. Or perhaps you've been complaining to others, instead of speaking directly with your boss.

If you are lazy or avoid confrontations at all costs, you'll take those traits with you, and probably in a short space of time, you'll end up in a similar situation.

Clean up the stuff about you that needs cleaning up before you start looking for a new job. 

5. Not asking for his/her opinion of you

See Part 2 of this article for what to do. 

6. Saying Yes to everything they ask of you

You'll probably end up under-delivering, and then they'll jump more on your case. You can manage up and work with your boss so that you don't take on too much. Members, see Tip 6 in the second part of this article series

7. Ignoring or not saying anything about their poor behavior

No denying it, this one's a challenge - see Part 2 of this article for more details on how to get better at confronting your boss - but if you don't address their poor behavior, you are asking for havoc.

8. Not making sure you understand the critical home runs ...

You need to understand the critical targets to hit for him/her to see you as successful. Your job description and what the boss wants from you can be two distinctly different things.

9. Jumping the Chain of Command

This will probably only increase conflict between you and your boss, and you may even suffer some retribution. Use it as a last resort.

10. Trying to hide problems

You'll end up in deeper water with your boat sinking.

11. Giving up after your first attempt ...

Don't give up at getting your boss to modify his/her behavior on your first attempt. Rome wasn't built in a day, the Titanic couldn't be turned on a dime! Don't expect your boss (or anyone else, for that matter) to change because of one conversation you've had with him or her.

So, now that we've covered what NOT to do when managing your boss, let's go to Part 2 of this article and get the next 12 tips that will guide you through how to manage your boss. Make sure you watch the video, at the end of the article, on the cost of a bad boss - it is both entertaining and enlightening!

Related Articles


Part 2


Have Your Say / Ask A Question

More Resources to Support Your 'Rockstar' Leadership Career

Become a Member

Access all the ebooks, checklists, templates and other resources in the gated area of the Make A Dent Club

Personal Development

Access 60+ free resources to help you shine. From emotional intelligence to mindset to understanding others

Improve Teams

Access 20+ articles on how to shift your team from performing to high-performing. These are proven techniques and tips

Influencing Others

From dealing with difficult people, to resolving conflict, to building stronger relationships, all the resources you need are here


Resources and articles to help you shift from being a good to a 'Rockstar' leader. Over 20 resources waiting to inspire you to new levels of performance

Culture & Change

Your team's culture is at the heart of your business performance. Designed to help you lead organizational culture change 

Templates & Checklists

Speed up your productivity and implementation with these checklists and templates


Visit the store to purchase the ebooks, e-courses that take you to another level


Quizzes and self-assessments to help you track your progress and where you need to focus