Bad Boss Behavior: What do you do?

What do you do when your boss’s behavior is inappropriate – not just once but regularly? Do you stick it out, report the bad boss behavior or leave the company? Well…that depends on the boss, the company, your career goals and the investment you have made with the company. Recently, someone shared one example of bad boss behavior and we discussed what her options were going forward.

A bad boss behavior story

Jennifer works for a private company. The VP of Human Resources is someone who was promoted from within the organization. She does not have a degree or formal training in the areas that she is responsible for – which includes more than HR. The company has many offices so Jennifer has limited contact with her boss, except by phone, conferences and other company sponsored training events.

During a week-long training, many of the evenings had mandatory team-building activities to help the HR leaders from the different parts of the company get to know one another on a personal level.

One evening, the group took off for a baseball game. As the HR VP entered the stadium she announced she was going to the bar and a wave of people followed her. Jennifer and the rest of the HR leaders went to find their seats and settle into the game.

Now you probably know where this story is going and I’ll cut to the point quickly – the HR VP never made it to her seat to watch any part of the game. In fact, the game was cut short due to weather and the group who watched the game made their way back to the bus. After waiting an hour, one of the HR Directors asked the bus driver to head back so that people could get some sleep before the morning session. Shortly after leaving, the HR VP called and told them to turn the bus around.

The HR VP entered the bus and proceeded to ream out the bus driver and HR Director for leaving the premises. Once she was done venting her wrath, she turned on her heel and headed back into the bar for another 45 minutes leaving the others on the bus to stew.

The next morning, the HR VP rehashed how disappointed she was about the decisions that were made. After a half hour of scolding, she finally moved on to the day’s training program.

I asked Jennifer why she stays with this company. There are several reasons:

  1. Right now it is about the money and she has not found another position that pays as well. With the economy shifting, there will be more opportunities for her to change companies.
  2. She wants to go someplace where the corporate or organizational culture is nurturing and positive. A previous employer is one of her top choices. It’s clear she does not want to work for someone like her current VP HR.
  3. She is committed to the company for the next several years because she is working on her master’s degree.

Evaluate what commitments you have at your current employer

If you recently joined the company and they paid for your relocation, determine what obligations you may have if you leave. Many companies require repayment of all relocation costs (including buying/selling house fees) if you leave the company within the first year of employment.

Consider any other financial obligations you have outstanding with the company. For example, did the company fund your college or advance degree program? If so, you may be tied to the company for a number of years post-graduation.

Are you close to being vested in a 401K or pension plan and you will lose the company’s contribution if you leave? I have seen cases of people leaving significant money because they just had enough and needed to move on regardless of the impact personally.

Determine if outing bad boss behavior is worth it

Sometimes it just doesn’t make corporate political sense to report bad boss behavior. If you believe that your boss is protected within the company by their superiors or that your comments and observations will be met with skepticism, review if you are the right person to bring forward these concerns.

There will be companies and organizations where change will not happen and that requires you to take personal action to stay or leave.

About Lynn Dessert (415 Posts)

Lynn Dessert is an ICF trained certified NLP Coach specializing in Executive, Career and Life coaching based in Rochester, N.Y. She works with individuals and organizations to maximize personal effectiveness skills—a cornerstone to career advancement. Lynn is the author of What To Do After Being Fired and The Secerts to Successful Job On-Boarding. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 585.249.5149 today.


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