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What to do if your boss is a bitch

Posted: 2012-05-25 in How To    |   Tagged: bitchy boss, problem boss, working in pr


A bitchy boss can make your life hell. But don't worry, you're not alone - judging by the fact that this is one of our all-time most-read posts. Here's my advice on getting through the situation without exploding. By Heather Baker, @TopLineFounder

It happens in all industries but perhaps disproportionately in some. People are promoted to leadership positions because they are good at delivering the product or service (or because their employers can’t find anyone else to promote), not because they are good at leadership. Then they’re expected to manage people without any training or guidance, a situation exacerbated by the fact that they’re usually on an enormous power trip. Or, they're promoted because they've earned it, but they're just generally dickheads!

The result is a toxic working environment in which orders are barked, credit is stolen, red ink is abused and good people are publicly humiliated. In some workplaces this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’ve heard horror stories involving outrageous bullying, manipulating and backstabbing (especially from within PR agencies).

So what can you do if you are the victim of a bitchy boss?

It’s a tricky one, and my first piece of advice is leave. I’ve mentioned before on the blog that there is a skills shortage in the industry (if you're in PR) and if your current job is making you miserable, you should be able to find a better one relatively easily, particularly if you’re a star performer. There’s only so much change you, as an employee, can effect on your organisation, and sometimes it’s just better to cut your losses and move on.

However, I realise this is not always possible, and there is always a trade off between leaving and having a patchy CV, so sometimes you just need to stick it out. If that’s you, you need to find a way of improving your situation. Here are my recommendations:

  • The first thing to do is actually something not to do. And that is, don’t respond in kind. Fight the temptation to stoop to their level. It might be satisfying in the short term, but if the situation ever escalates you don’t want to help your boss’s case with some nice, juicy anecdotes from that time you behaved like a squishmitten yourself.
  • Likewise resist the temptation to bitch about your boss. You don’t want to develop a reputation for yourself, and workplace sniping can quickly come back to bite you.
  • Keep an objective log in which you make a note of every compliment and complaint (yes, I said objective) you get from clients and co-workers. This will be really useful if it ever kicks off and you have to defend yourself.
  • Ask for clear performance targets and measurements. If your boss refuses to set them for you, do it yourself and send them to him/her asking for feedback. Measure your own performance against these and keep a record for yourself.
  • When you have to confront your boss, do so objectively and with the evidence you have collected. Don’t go over their head in the first instance. Instead take the very brave step of facing up to them. Set a meeting, and carefully prepare what you want to say. Try it out on a couple of friends first and have a ready-prepared follow-up email to document the meeting.
  • If that still doesn’t help, suggest to your boss that you escalate it and that you both go in together to meet with an HR rep, or another member of the management team. This probably won’t go down well, but it is likely to make your boss think twice about his/her behaviour.
  • Be prepared to accept that you could be partly to blame, and that you might need to make some changes yourself. That means taking on criticism and asking your boss to help you make changes, rather than just going on the defensive.
  • Avoid total dejection by treating every challenge you face at work as a learning experience and reminding yourself that this is all great experience.
  • If none of that works and you don’t want to leave, then my last suggestion is to change your boss’ name in your phone to something that means penis or vagina (my current favourite is fish wrinkle – you’re welcome to use it) and have a private giggle every time they call you!

Check out our post on the best resignation letters - "Beat your bitchy boss to it: a note on resigning with style"!

Find out how our readers have dealt with their own bitchy bosses in our post 'Bitchy Bosses - Readers Tell All'!

Browse our other posts on working in PR

Have you had a bitchy boss? Tell me about it on Google Plus .


Connect with me on Google+



Does this post make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Or are you fuming? Either way, let us know by posting your comment below. This week, our favourite comment wins its author a £20 Amazon voucher.


Kaz Walter

Fri 17th August, 2012

Just noticed this post as you re-tweeted about readership on your blog...I have never heard a man referred to as a 'bitch'. Although your reference to gender remains neutral throughout your suggestions - it seems to me that this is clearly aimed at female management.


Sun 26th August, 2012

I sincerely hope that you are going to be elaborating a little more on this topic. I would like a little more information.

Black Tights

Thu 30th August, 2012

Excellent Article! About time someone who really knows what it is all about and can produce insightful material for us the reader. Certainly looking forward to your next article.


Sat 22nd September, 2012

In a future post, I will go over some of the reasoning behind our choices. Tremendous information here. I always do enjoy reading your posts. I have learned a Great deal from them.


Mon 22nd October, 2012

Sadly, this describes mine to a T. Fortunately, I escaped. Great post!


Fri 26th October, 2012

If some one wishes expert view concerning blogging then i propose him/her to visit this web site, Keep up the good job.


Thu 1st November, 2012

Good read. Try to remain positive and if you do go into a meeting with your boss, have positive examples to back up your work, and ask for examples where your work has fallen short. Then ask for a 2nd example and a 3rd as this might make the boss realise that quality of your work is not an issue - this happened to a colleague of mine and it transpired that the boss was reacting to just a single piece of negative feedback.


Fri 16th November, 2012

What's up, I would like to subscribe for this blog to obtain newest updates, thus where can i do it please help.


Tue 16th July, 2013

My boss is a bitch and everybody knows. I just want her to fall in love, she's an old maid, so maybe that will change her.


Tue 1st October, 2013

Yes I had a boss from hell, she yelled so much at her husband. Complained about money coming in. Never gave me any leadership even thou i was the manager for her office and hr. She never talked well about anyone unless you did good for the company. I resigned and was belittled so badly that I am going to therapy. 10 years of service meant nothing to her . I was a liar and cause havoc

to the office for deleting a coworker from Facebook. Telling me i didnt know how to handle stress. What the heck , now I got replaced by a younger person , with no skills. O well that is life. Wishing them the best . I no longer will work in a toxic Envioment. After giving a company that many years move on, if they start treating you differently, chances are they are trying to get rid of you. Health is more important , without that you have nothing. I would like to start a blog for women over 55..


Fri 15th November, 2013

My boss is just a moron. Everything that comes out of her mouth is a bunch of bull. And she LOVES to listen to herself talk. She's driving the business into the ground, and because her and the owner are friends on a personal level, she's not going anywhere. The only satisfaction I get out of her is knowing I'm much smarter than her. I really want to call her out on her lies and excuses, but I know that will reflect poorly on me. It's hard to bite the bullet all the time.


Sat 4th January, 2014

My boss is an angel. The problem is HER boss. The woman is a controlling, insecure harridan. My own boss remains professional to a fault, never complains or comments but it is impossible to ignore how often she is underestimated and ignored by her supervisor. My whole focus is supporting my boss to help her shine. I just wish there was a way to also draw attention, from higher up the food chain, to the fact that she works for a toxic piece of trash.


Wed 12th March, 2014

My supervisor always belittles me and thinks that when I ask questions I'm stupid for doing so. I just want to make sure that I am doing things right. But she treats mecompletely different compared to everyone else and is promoting people who don't deserve the position. It just makes me angry cause I have been working so hard at this company for nearly 6years and still haven't been given the proper recognition I deserve. I am great at customer service and always do it with a smile. I never complain, although I bite my tongue a lot and that is very hard to do sometimes. But I still do it. I am always friendly towards her, even when she is a total cow. And she still doesn't change how she is towards me. I just want to know what I have to do to get what I am after. Thank you for this post, I will take these factors on board and just try to make the best of it.


Sun 13th April, 2014

I really wish I could sit down with another manager and discuss this other manager's behavior. Unfortunately, the other manager likes to back up the disrespectful manager, and neither of them listens objectively to what their employees have to say. They are a team at being demeaning and "bitchy".


Sat 23rd August, 2014

I really hate working for female's they always bring their PMS hormonal shit into the office. My boss is such a bitch ! She needs to get over her inferiority/superiority complex.... I'ts so hard to keep quiet and tolerate her shit all the time. I have had enough of her shit

Friendship Quotes

Tue 21st October, 2014

I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet users, its really really pleasant article on building up new website.


Sat 22nd November, 2014

It's best to quit and move on. As you go thru this, always think it through and learn more about yourself from it. I went through it for 13 years and learned a lot about me


Sun 18th January, 2015



Tue 20th January, 2015

Never think by having a woman as a CEO that your work lot will be more compassion-filled. The worst bosses I've had have been crabby self-righteous, boot stomping, wannabe men, b*tches.


Thu 5th February, 2015

My Auntie is really a bitch and she's making my life hell. I want to break free from her completely but have no money for a flight out. What should I do?


Wed 1st April, 2015

Don't they have a Dexter around for bosses that suck?


Thu 2nd April, 2015

My boss is a vain bitch. She even bitches about her own family in work. She loves herself and thinks we are all stupid and ugly compared to herself. I actually think she's mentally ill.


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