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The Boss from Hell...How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

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If you work closely with your boss or supervisor, then much of the atmosphere and mood of your workplace depends on your relationship with your boss. If the atmosphere is negative and tense then it makes for a LONG workday! Read on for some tips on how you can deal with your difficult boss to make your legal staffing job a little easier and hopefully more enjoyable!

Communication is Key


Perhaps the problem isn't exactly with your boss. Maybe it's a problem communicating with your boss. Start by repeating any instructions that your boss gives you, or emailing to ensure that you are on the same page. This not only helps to ensure that you understand the instructions you are given, but also documents the instructions and the conversation (in the unfortunate case that you need to provide it).

Another good thing to do is to ask for regular progress reports. This will allow you to cultivate a boss/employee relationship while giving you opportunities to sit down with your boss and bring him or her up to date on your work. You may think that you've been doing everything that you're supposed to, but your boss may think otherwise. This is a good opportunity to get on the same page.

You could also try talking to your boss and explaining what you need in terms of feedback, support, and direction. This is not the time, however, to lash out and declare what a poor boss you think he or she is. This would be counterproductive with respect to what you are trying to accomplish. It may sound lame, but some bad bosses don't realize that their management skills are poor. So be tactful but strong.

Let's Work Together…

Ask your boss how you can help him or her reach certain goals, and go the extra mile to help with certain duties (of course, only after your own work is done). It maybe that your boss has a lot on his/her shoulders and the stress that they are under is causing them to be hard to work with.

Or you might also suggest that you work together on a project. Doing so may open up opportunities for your boss to see how hard you work and that you are working with, rather than against, him/her.

Go Over Your Boss's Head

Depending on the situation, if you feel that you have tried every option to deal with the situation directly, it may be time to go to your boss's supervisor or someone in human resources, especially if you feel that your boss is treating you unlawfully.

In this situation, it is imperative that you remain calm and try to keep your emotions in check. Describe exactly what your boss does and the impact his or her behavior is having on you and your job performance. Be prepared to give documentation of the dates, times, and circumstances. If your situation is serious enough, perhaps you could have someone who witnesses how the boss treats you go with you to talk to HR. This covers your side. Also, realize that once you make your case to the HR department, they will most likely talk to your boss about your concerns, so be prepared for the outcome.

If your boss is reprimanded, you may not even know about it due to confidentiality, so be patient if you do not hear about an immediate result from taking this step.

Time for a Change…

If none of the advice above helps to resolve your situation with your boss, and you absolutely cannot tolerate working with him/her any longer, you may want to consider asking to work under a different boss or supervisor. This shows that you enjoy working for your employer, just not your supervisor.

If this is not an option, it may be time to consider looking for a new job. But before you give your notice, keep in mind that getting a job is not easy – especially in today's economy. If you love everything about your job but your boss, then perhaps grinning and bearing it is worth it.


About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About LawCrossing
LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.


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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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