A bad boss can be a huge source of stress and unhappiness. Many on the receiving end feel the only option is to quit. In fact, a 2019 study by global staffing firm Robert Half, found that about two in five (39 percent)  of the professionals they surveyed in Canada had left a job due to a bad boss. However, quitting can come at a price.  Why should you have to leave what may be a terrific organization? Why should you have to abandon a title and salary you’ve worked hard to attain? What if your next boss is just as bad?  Feeling forced to quit is never a good thing.  Here we provide a few measures you can take to resolve the situation.

1. Speak to your boss.

This is an important conversation so be prepared. First, decide the goal of the meeting. What changes do you wish to see? Do you need more resources and support? Clearer direction?  Better communication?  More feedback?  Are you being treated unfairly or disrespectfully? What exactly do you want your boss to start doing, stop doing, or make happen?  Focus on one issue at a time and give examples when possible.  Whatever it is, be forthright, polite, and calm.  Practice what you will say and anticipate possible responses.

During the conversation, verify that you have interpreted your boss’ intention correctly.  Rather than saying  “you make me feel” try  “when you do X, I believe you want to achieve Y; is that right?”.  Ask your boss to clarify their intention, needs, and objectives. Importantly, be aware of your reactions because once we feel negatively towards someone we often assume they always have the worst intentions. Diffuse your emotions by stepping back and considering your boss’ values.  What must they do to achieve their deliverables? What do they need from you to meet their objectives?  Seeing things from their perspective might help you understand them better.

2. Consider approaching HR.

If talking to your boss does not improve things you will need to consider your next steps. One option is to approach HR. How comfortable you feel doing that may depend on how well they have supported other employees with similar complaints. While individual complaints are confidential, you may be aware of your HR department’s reputation for handling such things.  If you do meet with HR, clearly explain the issue and what you have done to resolve it. They may have helped others in a similar situation and suggest a way forward that you had not considered.

3. Take care of your physical and mental well-being.

Coping with a bad boss can seem all-consuming but you should make time for exercise and other activities that take your mind off work. Try not to let sleep suffer and do what you can to unwind before bedtime such as meditation, yoga, or reading.  Be mindful of negative internal conversations or self-talk which can become habitual under duress.  When you start down a negative thought path change direction by focussing on something that makes you happy, such as an upcoming trip. Negative self-talk does nothing but sap energy and heighten anxiety.

4. Make time for your support network.

It’s important to engage with your support network when experiencing stress or anxiety. Connect with people who encourage and support you.  Time with friends or a weekend away with the family can be invigorating and remind you that work is just one component of your life. Talking to a trained coach or therapist would also provide support and expert advice.

5. Explore job opportunities within your current organization.

If a new job seems your only option, explore opportunities within your own organization first. You might be able to escape your boss without leaving the company. Find out how internal positions are posted and network with other departments.  Update your résumé, research suitable positions, and create a convincing case for transitioning to a new role. Apply as much effort in securing your new internal job as you would a job outside of the company.

6. Quit with dignity and professionalism.

Sometimes, leaving the company may be your only option. If the situation is overwhelming, you are depressed, anxious, or unable to do your best work, it’s probably time to go.  Although it may be tempting to tell your boss exactly what you think of them when you resign, it is better to not burn bridges in person, or via your resignation letter, which will be kept on file.  However, if HR asks for an exit interview you may choose to oblige but stick to the facts and be professional about it.  When you quit, be ready to leave the building with your personal belongings, contact lists,  and important papers, just in case you are not allowed back to your desk. Return all company items and get a receipt. Even if you are desperate to get away from your boss, it’s wise to honour the agreed notice period.

7. Transition properly and deliver on your commitments.

Ensure your boss and colleagues understand what you will do before leaving. If you say you will complete something, make sure you do. Don’t give anyone a reason to criticize you after you are gone.

8. Don’t criticize Your boss.

Never vilify your boss in a job interview. Even if the interviewer seems sympathetic, they may infer it’s you who’s the problem. Decide in advance how you will explain your resignation or desire to leave. Do not let the conversation devolve into a complaining session.

If you have a bad boss, you might take comfort in knowing you are far from alone.  Despite billions of dollars spent annually on leadership and managerial development, bad bosses exist in every organization and industry. Forge Coaching & Consulting can provide expert advice about how to cope in this difficult situation.  If you have a terrible boss, we can help.

Manon Dulude is interviewed by Dr. Katrina Burrus, MCC.

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  • Being a psychotherapist, how do you assess and coach clients differently than others coaches might?
  • You and your colleague created a, “Coaching Continue Model” and how does this apply to coaching leaders?

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Once the subject of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) — sometimes called machine intelligence —  is now a reality for many companies and consumers.  Arguably, not since the advent of the internet has a technology held such promise as a driver of innovation and new ways of doing business.  AI has the potential to impact virtually every industry and is capturing the imagination of executives around the world as they try to understand and optimize it.  Further, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., the global artificial intelligence market is expected to reach US $390.9 billion by 2025. Clearly, AI is here to stay, but it’s not without controversy.

Numerous studies point to AI as a significant source of future job loss, especially where it contributes to automating low-skill or repetitive activities.  In fact, according to  Oxford Economics: up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide will be lost to robots by 2030.  As well, certain demographics are at greater risk of being replaced by machines. A study by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), found that women hold  58% of the jobs most likely to be automated. A good example of this is the increasing number of self-service check-outs emerging at grocery  and drug stores.

Conversely, other studies highlight how AI is creating jobs, or at least eliminating routine tasks from within jobs, freeing humans to focus on matters of greater value and interest. As well, workers do seem to be getting on board with AI once they experience it.  A global study by Oracle and Future Workplace of more than 8,300 employees, managers and HR leaders,  found “the majority (65 percent) of workers are optimistic, excited and grateful about having robot co-workers and nearly a quarter report having a loving and gratifying relationship with AI at work.”

The same study also explored opinions about the various strengths of AI and humans. When asked what robots can do better than their managers, respondents said robots are better at providing unbiased information, maintaining work schedules, problem-solving, and managing a budget.  When asked what managers can do better than robots, the top three tasks were understanding their feelings, coaching them, and creating a work culture.

So, if you are not already on the path to AI, where do you begin? The following steps should help you get started:

1. Learn as much as you can about AI.

If your organization has an AI strategy how does your department fit in? What could you be doing to optimize AI within your field of work? Do you and your team members have all the available AI productivity tools, training and sources of information you need?

2. Recognize that harnessing AI requires a new mindset and new processes, even a new organizational structure.

It is about much more than new technology or new software. If the talent you need to enable the transition is not available inhouse, bring it in from outside. As well, AI is not an endeavour that the Chief Technology Officer and team handle in isolation; every employee can play a role in unleashing the potential of AI — from the CEO on down.

3. Strengthen your soft skills.

Humans and robots have different strengths. Soft skills are always important, but because hard skills seem easier for AI to master, at least for now, ensure skills such as communication, empathy, team-building, leadership, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and creativity are as strong as they can be. Our human qualities complement AI and combined they deliver a more powerful approach to business overall.

Where is your organization on the AI spectrum? Unlike the Internet, where the later arrivals learned from the missteps of the trailblazers and the dot.com crash, it’s generally accepted that the sooner you get into AI the better. Take steps to ensure you do not get left behind, as a business or as an individual.  As Mark Cuban, the American entrepreneur and TV personality puts it: “Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, machine learning —whatever you’re doing, if you don’t understand it — learn it. Because otherwise, you’re going to be a dinosaur within 3 years.”

Why Your Attitude to Learning is More Important than Intelligence and Innate Abilities

Frequently in my practice, I hear clients express concerns about not feeling “good enough” and how their low self-esteem and poor self-confidence are holding them back. They feel “stuck” in life and worry that they are never going to be as successful as they had hoped to be.  Often they will mention how others at their workplace or in their family circle,  seem so much more successful and they are convinced it’s due to superior intelligence or innate capabilities that they themselves don’t possess.

While occasional self-doubt is normal, a mindset fixed in the belief that you won’t be successful is not only unhealthy but almost sure to prove you right!  That’s because mindset is hugely important to outcome.  In fact, it was this insightful thinking that triggered Henry Ford’s now-legendary remark, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”  In this article, I invite you to consider that it may be your attitude to learning that is playing a significant role in how you see yourself, your potential, and your ability to succeed.

In her book Mindset; the New Psychology of Success, 2016, Carol Dweck sheds light on our attitude toward learning and its impact on personal success and personal growth.  Research shows that there are two types of mindset, a growth mindset, and a fixed mindset.  People with a growth mindset are likely to have a more positive attitude toward learning new notions and skills and have more staying power and grit when it comes to persevering to master something difficult.  As well, individuals with a growth mindset love what they do and continue to love it even when it gets more challenging.

People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that success and a high level of expertise are predetermined by natural abilities and innate talent rather than by applying a greater degree of effort. They see the need to work hard as a lack of intelligence or talent and even as shameful. Consequently, they tend to give up rather than put in a significant amount of effort to succeed.  In general, fixed mindset individuals are not good at estimating their true abilities and perceive anything other than positive feedback as bad news and a threat to their self-perception.

Fortunately,  each of us has the potential to transition from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  As well,  if we do have a fixed mindset, it may be only toward some aspects of learning and we may have a growth mindset toward other aspects.

Are you in a growth or fixed mindset?  This chart will help you decide:

Growth Mindset Fixed Mindset
You see your personal potential as limitless.


You see personal potential as limited.
You have a passion for learning.


You avoid new and uncomfortable situations for fear of not succeeding right away.
You believe you can develop yourself.


You are constantly trying to prove yourself.
You see failure as an opportunity to try again and do better.  Mistakes do not negatively impact your sense of self or your confidence.


You see mistakes as utter failures and a reason to stop attempting to learn.  Individuals with a fixed mindset have a fragile level of self-confidence, particularly when facing a setback or when a high level of effort is necessary.  Individuals with a fixed mindset are aware of their shaky sense of self and constantly nursing their confidence.


You are realistic about your abilities and seek feedback to understand where you stand and how to improve.


You see feedback as a threat or an attack. You might make excuses for your lack of success and often blame uncontrollable external forces for your lack of achievement.


You believe that you can cultivate your abilities. You believe “If I can’t learn, it means I lack abilities and I will feel ashamed if everyone discovers that about me”.
You accept there may be a steep learning curve to master something complex or difficult.


You hear your own self-limiting belief “I will never succeed” and stop trying.


You believe success comes from hard work and not luck. You believe success comes from being gifted not hard work.
Hearing discouraging comments such as “You will never succeed,” boosts your resolve to achieve.


You likely stop trying before anyone notices you are struggling.
You think “If this is hard, it is worth mastering it,”. You likely think “It should not be this hard,” and move on to what you excel at rather than persist.


Whether you feel you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, neither is carved in stone.  Mindset is fuelled by our belief system, so it’s important to listen to your inner voice and consider if you are imposing limits on yourself unnecessarily.  We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can change our inner dialogue and our reactions to events and situations.  So, if you recognize yourself as living with a fixed mindset, coaching can be a great start to helping you create the life you want.

For more information about the importance of mindset contact Forge Coaching & Consulting at

(905) 873-9393.




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