Stopping the spread of your boss’s bad behavior

Bad boss

When a supervisor creates a hostile atmosphere in the workplace, employees are not able to come up with their best work, much less innovative ideas.

Not all bosses are horrible, but many bosses have horrible moments. Times when their budgets have gotten out of control, their staff is acting irresponsibly or projects have gone off track. Some bosses are better at holding in their anger or frustration, but others can act like loose cannons and fire off rants and tirades at the slightest problem. This management style can become especially burdensome when it turns commonplace at work. Soon employees began to imitate this negativity or censor their ideas.

Fortunately, there’s a way to stop the toxic environment. “You can help stop the spread of this bad behavior by the way you interact with your bad boss,” says Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of “Got a bad boss? Work that boss to get what you want at work.” She says, “When a supervisor creates a hostile atmosphere in the workplace, employees are not able to come up with their best work, much less innovative ideas. Just as one bad apple spoils the entire barrel, a bad boss can spoil the entire team.”

So, how can you stop the spread of your boss’s bad behavior?

Be the change you wish to see
If you’re capable of spotting your boss’s inappropriate conduct, you’re already on the way to changing the office’s environment. The key is to recognize these actions and reject them, instead opting for positivity and assurance. “To stop this spread, workers need to go against their natural responses,” Nelson says. “We tend to model the behavior of those in front of us. If the boss is modeling bad behavior, then people that report to him allow themselves to show their worst instead of their best. If the boss encourages yelling and is always irritable, employees will follow.”

But you don’t have to let this happen to you. Nelson says, “Instead of accepting your boss’s hostile attitude, turn it around. See yourself as helping with your boss’s success, which will help advance your own career. Make a conscientious effort to not let your bad boss get to you.”

Find solutions
Instead, find ways to help your boss get to a better place. “If your boss is always blaming others – particularly you – when things go wrong, be his or her problem-solver,” Nelson says. “Don’t let this insecure finger pointer cause you to start yelling at your colleagues. Stay calm and immediately offer to help. Then follow through. Eventually, your boss will see you as a much-needed ally to make him or her look good, which is what most bad bosses want in the first place. The temperature of the workplace will go down.”

Co-workers and bosses in particular are apt to overreact when the situation already feels out of control. By keeping the emotional climate in a steadier place, along with assisting when things get tough, you can help stop the spread of your boss’s bad behavior and even unleash a better boss.

“Most people are essentially good and want to do their best at work,” Nelson says. “Sometimes, they just get caught up in a negative work culture.”