We all come across a terrible boss sooner or later. Maybe it's a clash of generations, work styles or personalities. Maybe there are philosophical differences that are hard to bridge. Maybe they're angry or frustrated over something in their own life, or just not a nice person. Maybe they feel a little threatened by your youth or your abilities.

For whatever reason, there are few things that can throw you off your game at work more than wondering if your boss is undermining your success or even setting you up to fail.

Here are some of the symptoms of a serious boss problem:

1. Your boss ignores you. If your boss ignores or avoids you, it may mean that they find your presence frustrating or that they consider you unimportant. Aside from hurting your ego, this attitude can do huge damage as you're cut out of the loop on important information and decisions.

2. Your boss is hypercritical. If your boss is constantly singling you out as a negative example and criticizing you--especially in public--they're damaging your self-image and the way others perceive you. Even if you're struggling with something, that should inspire offers of help rather than scorn.

3. Your boss micromanages you. Of course, some bosses micromanage everyone. But being singled out may signal a lack of trust. Micromanagement can also originate from poor delegation skills, but you can't advance if you're not entrusted with meaningful responsibilities on your own.

4. Your boss withholds information. There are few things more directly undermining that withholding information. You're left looking inept and foolish. If this happens, you may need to develop back-channel sources to find out what you need to know.

5. Your boss doesn't give you the projects aligned with your strengths. If you're not getting projects that let you work to your strengths, volunteer to help with something that does. Keep finding ways to contribute and engage and show what you can do.

Even with a good boss, these mishaps can happen now and then. But if it's pervasive or habitual, you need to appoint yourself the CEO of your own destiny and start making a new plan.

Sticking it out is a high-risk option--the people you most want to see leave have a way of staying in place forever, and the damage a bad boss can do to your career and your psyche is significant. Take care of yourself by walking away before it comes to that.

Published on: Oct 13, 2016
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