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Management: Too Many Bad Bosses? Then, Prepare to Be Your Own.

What to Do about a Bad Boss

Maybe it’s the economy, but lately I have been hearing about a lot of bad bosses. I have a friend in sales who works for a boss whose management style is fear: Once a week, every week, someone is fired for not doing their job right. Employee morale is of course low, people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs, turnover is a given, and people hate working there.

My first boss was a bad boss. I got a job at an ice cream shop. I was 16. The boss said I needed training, and so had me work for a week – for free. Then he informed me that I needed another week of training. I quit during the second free week of labor.

So I have been hearing a lot of bad boss stories lately. Here are some of the best (or should I say, worst?):

  • There was a guy whose wife unexpectedly went into labor three weeks early. He called his office and explained to his boss that he would not be able to make it in for a few days. He was fired for “a lack of commitment to the job.”
  • Or how about the woman who worked in food service who got the flu from her son but forced herself to go into work that day anyway because the boss liked “team players.” By midday she clearly needed to go home, on top of the fact that she was contagious. But the boss would not let her leave and made her finish her shift. And yes, most of the rest of the staff got sick that week.
  • Or the boss who befriended one woman and, over the next few months, got her to share some secrets about her past employment (private things, nothing illegal.) The boss later twisted the info and shared it with his boss in order to ingratiate himself, look like he was on top of things, and get ahead. She was fired and he got a promotion.

So what do you do if you have a bad boss and don’t want to quit, or cannot quit? Here are a few ideas:

1. Do your best: Nothing succeeds like success. Hopefully, the boss will come to realize your value and not want to lose you, or maybe other people in the business notice your commitment. Either way, you will keep your job and some of your sanity if you don’t sink to the boss’ level.

2. Say yes: The bad boss is often an insecure person. To the extent possible, you might want to just try agreeing with her, even if you know she is wrong. In addition, work to figure out what is important to your boss and do that. Even showing some empathy for your boss, as difficult as that may be, can work sometimes.

3. Speak up: Tell your boss what it is you need and how working together can help the business. Your boss may not listen, but then again, maybe he will. If you want to take it further, show him some objective data as to why what you are doing is OK. It is more difficult for the boss to challenge facts.

4. Document: Make sure you keep a log of inappropriate comments and actions; you never know when it might come in handy, in a lawsuit or wrongful termination case for instance. Similarly, document your work and what you do right.

5. Keep your eyes open: This is not your last job, just your current one. Work your network and keep your options open.

Steve Strauss, Mr. All Biz
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Steve Strauss - Founder, and
Steven is one of the world’s leading entrepreneurship and small business experts. He is a lawyer, public speaker and author, speaking around the world about entrepreneurship. He has been seen on CNN, CNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and his column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly on | | @stevestrauss | More from Steve


Women in Business: Growth Is Up, But Sales Are Down

The Fight Women Face in The Market

While women-owned businesses are growing in number, a new report from The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce found that their sales are shrinking at an alarming rate.

The report, Women’s Businesses Struggle for Market Share, analyzed the Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners and found that although the number of women-owned businesses grew by 44 percent from 1997 to 2007, their share of total business revenue fell from 4.4 percent to 3.95 percent. Today the nation’s 7.8 million women-owned businesses make up nearly 29 percent of all U.S. businesses, making the shrinking sales even more striking.

“The media hype about the growth of women’s businesses continues to emphasize the number of women-owned firms, rather than our grossly stunted financial success,” says Chamber CEO Margot Dorfman. “This report highlights the growth challenges women business owners face and the opportunity loss our country experiences as we fail to support women as entrepreneurs and business leaders.”

The report cites several factors contributing to women’s businesses failure to increase sales, including lack of access to capital, continuing problems getting their share of federal contracts, and being pushed out of private sector contracting opportunities by big businesses.

Women’s businesses’ failure to grow affects not only the women themselves, in terms of lost income and financial growth, but the nation as a whole. The report notes: “If women-owned firms do not achieve strong revenue growth, women’s financial condition may continue to falter impacting families, communities, the vitality and competitiveness of our marketplace, and society as a whole.”

While many businesses have seen sales falter during the recession, I was startled by the fact that the data surveyed in the report came from 1997-2007, before the economy took a hit. What’s going on in your business now? Does it reflect the results of this study, or something different?

If your sales aren’t where you want them to be, check out the SCORE website for lots of helpful resources to boost your business.

Rieva Lesonsky - CEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva


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