Tag Archives: entertainment

How to Survive a Horrible Boss

The follow-up to the 2011 hit movie, Horrible Bosses, is set to debut on November 26th, so I thought it may be a good idea to repost the Ask The Strategist entry, Surviving Horrible Bosses. Since the movie sequel, Horrible Bosses 2, will include new plot twists and characters, our post has been updated, as well.

Enjoy and feel free to share a horrible boss story of your own, including how you survived him/her, in the reply section below.

How to Survive a Horrible Boss

Horrible Bosses pulled in $28.3 million during its premier weekend in 2011. That should come as no surprise as the summer typically draws the masses to cooler environments for entertainment. Movie theaters are the perfect place to enjoy a little humor while keeping cool. The draw, however, was not solely the promise of frigid air for a few hours. Folks flocked to the big screen comedy to gain a glimpse into the characters’ world of horrible bosses – and how they dealt with these annoying rabble-rousers.

Don't let a Horrible Boss Get You Down
Don’t let a Horrible Boss Get You Down

In Horrible Bosses, art imitates life for some of us. We have, or have heard about, horror stories involving supervisors who demonstrate weird behavior in the workplace: sexual harassment, slacking off and doing no work, or basic ineptitude.

Characters played by Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day are believable on the big screen, even though their zany plans to eliminate their horrible bosses is absurd. For the rest of us real people, how can we bear the burden of horrible bosses, get our work done, and even thrive in a dysfunctional environment without resorting to the far-fetched hijinks of this crew?

In all fairness, there are probably multitudes of great, supportive supervisors out there. For those poor souls who brave the horrible bosses every day, here are some helpful strategies for dealing with them.

Know who you are dealing with and act accordingly

If your boss morphs into the Incredible Hulk when employees approach her early in the morning, take this cue to ask any questions or get feedback later in the day. You can easily gauge your supervisor’s personality by taking time to observe her in the workplace. This includes how she treats her inner circle, including the executive assistant, human resources manager, and any interns assigned to the department. Does she treat certain individuals differently? If your boss seems to become more pleasant with an individual than the rest of the team, figure out why.

Does that employee anticipate what your supervisor will ask for and have it in advance? Does the staff member exert extra initiative? Does the employee cower or stand up for his or her rights in the workplace? Take a moment to study an employee who seems to get some level of respect from horrible bosses (yes, there is usually one), figure out how the positive interaction can work for you, and implement the process for yourself. Take care to avoid artificiality. Bosses will notice it, and it may place you in a less desirable situation than you are already in at work.

Don’t give them an inch and they won’t be able to take a yard

Some bad bosses simply get away with bad behavior because employees, who want to make a good impression when they begin work, change the game in mid-play. Most people, at work and in life, get used to the way people behave and respond.

If you started the job with a can-do, bend over backwards to get it done spirit, your supervisor will always think of you as a go-to person who never says no. Even when it is 7:00 p.m. and you are trying to leave the office to pick up your son at daycare before it closes at 7:15 p.m., a bad boss will expect you to call your spouse, neighbor, or stranger to collect your kid from the babysitter. Having a little backbone in the beginning, while still displaying the ultimate professionalism, helps curtail excessive expectations from an insensitive supervisor.

Let them know when enough is enough

There are times when a bad boss’ behavior crosses the line – morally and legally. I do not recommend that you consider hit men to take care of these annoying individuals as the protagonists did in the movie Horrible Bosses. Instead, do three things: take your temperature; get feedback; and, put them in their places.

Taking your temperature – or surveying yourself to identify if you are responding appropriately, or are overreacting – is the first step in identifying what, if anything, you should say to a cantankerous supervisor. Consider the boss’ behavior. Is the perceived violation a personal affront? Offensive to everyone? Offensive to women, transgendered, or racially different (from the supervisor) employees? A bad mood leading to a one-off slight?

If the temperature is off the charts, the next step is to get feedback from someone else. It always helps to get another perspective. A coworker who reports to the same supervisor, or has witnessed bad behavior by the boss, can shed light on the situation and help you determine if you should advance to the final step: put them in their places.

There are many ways to check bad behavior in the workplace. If your supervisor’s activities warrant intervention, there is a way to address the behavior professionally, and without potential repercussions. If you have a good relationship with your horrible boss (it can happen – think about the weird, but workable, relationship between Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute on The Office), then you may be able to gently approach the subject. If your supervisor is not that congenial, you may want to take the situation to your human resources department and let the HR professional deal with your supervisor directly. Not only does it take the pressure off you, it lessens the likelihood of potential retaliation if human resources handles the issue appropriately.

Become indispensable at work

Chances are that if you are indispensable in the workplace, horrible bosses may check their rude behavior so that you do not quit your job. They may still be ill tempered and rude; however, these supervisors generally know not to press their luck with you.

Develop and display your exceptional skills – fiscal responsibility, the ability to troubleshoot and fix office technology, or exceptional speech writing capabilities – that your horrible boss relies upon to get through his or her day. When people have to ask you to do things, they are less likely to tick you off for fear that you may not help them or will be reluctant to assist when you are truly needed. Sadly, this is a reality in some workplace environments.

Get your backup plan ready

If you decide that you’ve had enough, and the “higher ups” refuse to deal with your boss’ behavior, then get your resume ready and network with others within your industry until you can make the transition into a different department, or work at a new company.

Detail your work functions and contributions on your CV and the impact they have had within your division. Be sure to include the results the company gained by your hard work – reduction in customer wait time, increased satisfaction rate or revenue, or the creation of new business opportunities. Once you have polished your resume, update and overhaul your social media presence, especially on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Your objective is to shore up your experience without needing your supervisor’s recommendation or endorsement for your next gig. What professional alliances and relationships have your created since working at the company? These networks should serve as references for future employers, or provide you guidance on transitioning into another work environment. So often, employees feel stuck in a job with toxic supervisors because they have not devised their own career plans, and end up staying in unhealthy situations. Getting your plan ready before you need can help you survive, and sidestep, a horrible boss.

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Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist

DISCLAIMER: Since its original debut on MySpace in 2004 as Midweek Musings, ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.

Five Valuable Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Beyoncé

Beyoncé's surprise CD release holds 5 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. Photo Credit: Invision for Parkwood Entertainment
Beyoncé’s surprise CD release holds 5 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. Photo Credit: Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

Whether or not you like Beyoncé or her music, she has proven,  yet again, that she is at the top of her game and a stellar marketing magnate.  The singer stunned music industry insiders and her fans alike with her surprise fifth studio CD release with no fanfare last Friday, and in the process, has  taught entrepreneurs five valuable lessons they can employ, whether they run empires,  or are just getting started. The singer’s self-titled compilation enjoyed the  highest sales of a debut on iTunes in the company’s history, with  more than 600,000 units sold within three days of the release.

Innovation is key

Mrs. Carter has shown us how innovation – approaching situations, projects, and challenges with a fresh eye and a bit of creativity – can help unleash ideas that, if they are good ones implemented at the right time, can propel  businesses and brands to the next level of success, or awareness.

Being stagnant is no fun for those in charge of running a  business. Ideas don’t flow, and frustration ensues. What we can learn from  Beyoncé in her evolutionary approach to her career is that innovation never  goes stale, no matter how established you are in your industry.

Know and Respect Your  Brand

If you followed comments in the Twitterverse about Beyoncé’s  CD release, many people – including her colleagues in entertainment – opined that she is the only established artist who  could take such a nontraditional, yet aggressive, risk and succeed.

A huge part of the decision to use iTunes as the conduit for  her new music, I assume, was greatly influenced by Beyoncé knowing and  respecting her own brand. When you know that your product or service is one  that appeals to your target audience, and your brand is appealing to your  followers, customers, or constituency, it gives you latitude to explore  creative ways to share new products or services. As the adage goes, confidence  is key. If you are confident about your brand, others will often take you seriously, even if your company is relatively unknown.

Risk Can Be  Gratifying

Most of us are averse to extreme risk in growing or  expanding business opportunities, or in some cases, decrease or redefine  products or services offered. Taking a risk, after all, can mean lost revenue, staff reduction, or unfavorable feedback from customers or strategic alliances. As in financial investment, a certain level of risk is a necessary element in eventually reaping a big reward.

Even for an established artist like Beyoncé, a surprise CD release in a unique format was a very risky move, but she  has proven that taking chances, research, preparation, and a stellar work ethic combined are the hallmarks of a successful  entrepreneur. Whether or not the  end result is a roaring success, such as getting your product in a store that typically wouldn’t carry it, or launching a social media campaign that nets thousands of loyal customers, risk can help reduce the fear that keeps business owners and company decision-makers from evolving.

Plus, taking a risk and assessing its impact can be helpful in determining if  timing, resources, or staffing influenced the outcome. Then, use that data to retool the risk and try again, hopefully, with more success if it doesn’t go according to plan the first time.

Don’t Be Consumed By  Public Opinion

In an age where people can berate you on social media, it takes a tough person to ignore the comments, harsh criticism, and opinions and  get on with it. Without uttering a word, Beyoncé has let the recording industry  and the world know that she is not consumed by what critics, or even her own  record label, think of her music, and ultimately, the songstress’ strategy for  how she wanted to distribute her music.

Great ideas or novel concepts aren’t always understood or  appreciated, even though our guts, research, or soft promotions have told us  otherwise. Hearing objections to our ideas, or being criticized because the  time isn’t right, people don’t get the concept, or the idea has never been done  before by the company, can influence our courage to boldly make the move anyway.

Feedback is essential from customers, strategic alliances,  and collaborators; however, if harsh criticism is the sole consideration in  deciding whether or not to move forward with an idea, you may need to ignore  the contrarians and implement it anyway. Who knows? It could be the next  Facebook, Amazon.com, or Trader Joe’s.

Keep Your Mouth Shut

I can only imagine how hard it was for Beyoncé to keep this  historic entertainment move a secret. Confidentiality agreements aside, this is  probably my favorite lesson from the songstress.

How many entrepreneurs have had ideas hijacked by people  because they talked too much about their plans before all of the details were in place and established in a way that no other person could lay claim to the  concept?

While Beyoncé may not have worried about competition as the  primary reason for keeping mum about the visual concept CD, great ideas implemented at the right time can mean a financial bonanza, or priceless media  coverage. She will undoubtedly enjoy both as the momentum continues.

I am sure that other entertainers are taking notes and learning  from Beyoncé’s innovative and creative approach to her career, which may influence how digital music as a primary CD release platform is used in the  future. Ultimately, Beyoncé’s fearless – and lucrative – move is a lesson for all business owners to take notice of and create their own unique ways of  promoting their brand, services, and products.

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Never miss ASK THE STRATEGIST blog posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by subscribing.

About the Blogger: Kesi Stribling

Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist