How To Deal With A Difficult Supervisor

If you are wondering how to deal with a difficult supervisor, your first move should be to update your resume. This is said in all sincerity. The reason is this: when you are dealing with a difficult person who appears to have control over a significant portion of your life, you can regain a major sense of self and control simply by letting yourself know it's not forever. So update that resume, and post it at Subscribe to and get updated job listings on a daily basis, delivered to your inbox.  Don't forget to check the corporate site, see if a lateral transfer might be the answer. 

  1. Don't stress over the situation. Having a difficult supervisor can cause a great deal of stress if you let it, and stress leads to all manner of health issues. Find ways to buffer while on the job, and take up activities off the job (such as yoga or meditation) to help diffuse some of the stress. Do NOT talk to anybody on the job about the boss. 
  2. Start a journal so you can track how much of what they're doing is just worthy of a 'pet peeve' mention , versus more serious actions that can adversely affect job performance. Once you've been journaling long enough, and if there is no sign of improvement, contact Human Resources. The journal will be of great help to them in figuring out how to proceed most effectively. 
  3. It may be possible to avoid the Human Resources Department by making a solid attempt to work with the boss. For instance, when given an assignment, go over it again with them. Say something along the lines of "I believe I could do a better job on this assignment if I knew more about your expectations and any specifics you can tell me as to how you'd go about completing it." Then listen, and take notes. A few assignments later and there should be some mutual trust built up between the two of you.

Final word of advice: Don't personalize it. This supervisor is probably an equal opportunity yeller. Once you know it's really not personal, it will become that much easier to just show up and do the job as effectively as possible.

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