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The Right Way to Deal With a Bad Boss

There may come a time during your career in financial services that you find yourself working for someone who lacks both management, communications and interpersonal relationship skills. In other words, you have a bad boss.

To gain some insight into how we can deal with bad managers, we spoke with Jaime Lim, consulting director, PeopleSearch, in Singapore. Here's what Lim had to say.

Speak up

In any corporate environment, we need to learn to manage upwards. It is a skill and it takes courage, but I don’t think it’s difficult at all if we are willing to do it. If you are interested in your job, happy with the company and love your colleagues, then my advice would be to take the initiative to engage your boss.

Managers would love to have employees that can step up to say, "Hey, I’m ready for my next role" or "I’m passionate and committed to the team – is there something else I can help with, or that I can add value to?" This is going to make your boss’s day, and he/she will have you in mind, just as you have him/her in mind.

When should you walk away?

Firstly, reflect on the bigger things: Is your boss really being personal? Perhaps seek to understand why he or she behaved in a certain way. Sometimes because things are in a rush, people don’t bother to explain, which can result in conflict and misunderstanding. Nobody wants to clear things up – everyone just assumes, "Oh, she’s a terrible boss," but if we seek to understand, it could be a different story.

Focus on the career that you’re building, which has an impact on you and your family even. Perhaps you can take one or two steps to bridge the gap with your boss and try to bear it a little longer, because most of us can’t just walk away like that.

However, if an individual thinks they’ve had enough and it’s hurting their self-esteem or landing them into near depression – then yes; if they have taken all these possible steps without getting anywhere, move on.

Should bad bosses be brought up during a job interview?

I think what’s important in an interview is not to come in with all your gripes and complaints. That to me is emotional baggage and interviewers are not here to help you with that. They look at the strengths of the candidate and how that can fit into the organization and accelerate corporate performance.

However, if the potential employer starts to ask about your reasons for leaving, then you can touch on the relationship with your manager without getting into too much detail. If you need to say, "OK, my boss wasn’t so good," then be prepared to cite an example to support this – that’s important. Stay with the facts and leave it to the interviewers to take their own stand; I think that’s objective.

AUTHORShree Ann Mathavan Insider Comment

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The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.