A thoughtful, supportive boss can turn an otherwise difficult job into a manageable one. On the other hand, a bad boss can make a great role play out like a nightmare. If you're in the unfortunate position of having a terrible boss, you might be tempted to up and quit rather than deal with that person on a daily basis. The question is: Should you let an awful manager drive you away?
How bad is bad?
Let's be clear: There are different levels of "bad" when it comes to rating a manager, and if yours falls on the lighter end of the spectrum, you might be better served finding ways to cope with your boss's quirks and habits rather than making plans to resign.
Also, remember that a tough boss isn't necessarily a bad one. Holding employees to a high standard and pushing them to do better doesn't make a manager mean or dreadful. A boss who constantly berates you, on the other hand, will of course be more difficult to deal with.
Before you make plans to leave your job because of your boss, compile a list of the qualities that make him or her hard to work for. Then think about whether there's a workaround for any -- or most -- of them. For example, if your manager is just a negative, miserable person who never has anything nice to say, that's probably not something you can work to improve. But if you're having a hard time getting along with your boss because he or she insists on micromanaging you, that's something you might be able to fix by having an open conversation and taking steps to prove that you're trustworthy enough to get some breathing room.
Will your manager derail your career?
Another question to ask yourself before leaving a job because of a bad boss is whether that person has the ability to set back your career. If your manager keeps loading up your schedule with grunt work because he or she doesn't like you, thereby causing you to miss out on more important projects and opportunities, then that's reason enough to consider moving on. But if your manager is simply unpleasant to deal with, it might pay to stick it out if you're otherwise succeeding at your company and are well positioned to climb the ranks. Remember, if you're able to excel in spite of your boss and work your way upward, there will likely come a day (perhaps soon) when that person is no longer your manager. In other words, problem solved.
Knowing when to call it quits
Of course, all of the above assumes that you like your job and are motivated to stay. If you're less than pleased with other aspects of your position (such as long hours and a not-so-great salary), then there's no reason to force yourself to continue dealing with a bad boss. But if you're otherwise content, see what steps can be taken to get a new manager.
If you maintain a log of the many times your boss criticizes you in public or makes nasty comments about you and your work, you can take it to HR and ask for intervention or to report to somebody else. If that's not possible, and continuing to work for your boss is the only way to stay at your company, then there might come a point when you need to dust off your resume and start sending it out. But it pays to explore other options internally before going that route.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.