Many of us are lucky enough to have a manager/supervisor/boss/leader who is fair, motivating, inspiring, successful and kind. However, many of us may also find ourselves in a position where we love our organizations, our work and our colleagues, except our direct manager or boss is someone with whom we constantly clash. It can make a huge difference in how effective we are at work, and our overall health and well-being. There may be the possibility of leaving the organization, but we may not all have that luxury. Great jobs in the nonprofit sector do not become available often.

So what can we do when we have a difficult manager? How do we make our days more enjoyable and productive?

Below you’ll find links to resources that can help us ‘manage up’; help us manage the person who is managing us so that our work environments are healthy and effective.

1. In “10 Brilliant Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss”, the editors pull resources, articles, and blogs from a number of sources and compile it into this list. From using tips from couples’ therapy to identifying triggers and modifying our own behaviour, we’re bound to find some strategies that work.

2. There is some sage advice in “How to Handle a Bad Boss: 7 Strategies for ‘Managing Up”. The author begins by suggesting we step into the shoes of our manager, so we can learn why they behave the way they do. What keeps them up at night? What are they afraid of? How do they measure success? Once we better understand our managers and their motivations, we can better understand how our own behaviour can improve our interactions. The author then suggests supporting their successes, taking the high road, challenging respectfully and more. This is a good source for some solid strategies.

3. Psychology Today underscores the impact a difficult boss can have on our sense of self-worth, our confidence and our overall emotional and psychological well-being. In “Dealing with a Difficult Boss” the author suggests that a manager-staff relationship must be fed and nurtured just like any other relationship, and that being ‘a good employee’ may not always ensure that you’re appreciated and recognized if there are fundamental clashes in values or communication styles.

4. If you’re looking for a list of concrete strategies, then “9 Ways for Employees to Deal With a Difficult Boss” may contain some approaches that could help with the relationship. The author suggests various strategies that range from assessing our own behaviour to knowing when it’s time to move on.

5. “What to do if you have a difficult boss” collects perspectives from a number of employment, professional and relationship experts. In this article, we can read a range of approaches and strategies that may help us manage our managers. They also offer some really plain, but key advice that could help us maintain our own peace of mind when we have to follow through on decisions with which we may not agree.

BONUS: It’s possible that the reason why our manager is grinding on our nerves is that we’re not at our best. We may be approaching burnout, (learn to recognize the signs HERE) or neglecting selfcare at work. “This Self-Career-Care Checklist Will Make Your Work Week Even More Fulfilling” shares some tips to help us ensure we are doing the most we can to ensure we’re taking care of ourselves at work. And when we’re feeling good and putting ourselves first, some of the things others are doing may not impact us as much.

Having a difficult boss or manager can have a real impact on our daily work. There are power issues at play, and as the employee, we may not feel we’re positioned to do anything about it. But there are things over which we do have power – our behaviours, our reactions, and our perspective. We can not change our bosses or even the behaviour of our bosses but armed with some strategies that can help us navigate these often-tricky relationships, we may at least be able to nurture the relationship so that it is more positive than in the past. By employing some of the approaches above, depending on what fits our situation best, we may be able to work together with our managers and create healthier and happier workplaces.

Until next time,


This week’s blog was written by Tina de los Santos. Tina brings a diverse mix of nonprofit and business leadership to her role at PLC. Throughout her career she has been passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that support and inspire people’s professional and personal growth. Tina is our chief knowledge sharer and enjoys digitally connecting with other leaders in Peel to help them find great resources and learning tools.


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