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Strategies to manage a terrible boss

How to Deal with a Bad Boss


A classic story is the seasonal worker who, having secured an awesome job for the season, arrives only to find that he or she has a terrible boss, intent on making your season miserable and ruining your happy days on the slopes.

Here, we’ve laid out the most common types of bad snow bosses, and below we’ve drawn on experience working in the snow to give you some advice for dealing with a bad boss while working a snow season.

While these strategies are not foolproof, they may go some way to solving the problems you have at work, and get you feeling good again about your season. More importantly, they will hopefully give you more time to get out onto the slopes.


Types of Bad Snow Bosses

1. The one who sees you as a pawn and places no trust in you. After all you’re only there for a season, so who cares how you feel?

This boss works you to the absolute bone, giving you as little time as possible to get out onto the slopes. In the eyes of this boss, you are only there for a season or less, so who cares if you miss the best powder days of the season?

The strategy: This one requires putting in place strong boundaries between working hours and play hours. While you are at work, work well and hard. If you are already one of the best workers in the team, this will give you much better coin to raise working hours with your boss.

If you show you’re ready to pitch in when things need to be done, you have a much stronger case when you remind your boss that you would like more time on the snow. Be willing to compromise to get more time on the slopes.

Also, if you raise this issue with management, they are more likely to listen to you if you are a good worker. A bad reputation for working at their company can mean huge headaches for them finding staff in the future, so they want to keep you happy if possible.


2. The boss who knows it all and won’t listen to advice from newbies.

This boss knows everything there is to know about the snow and won’t listen to anyone who hasn’t done at least five seasons at the snow. Culprits may include, in particular, ski patrol, avalanche crew, trail park crew and upper management.

The strategy: Ask a lot of questions, and show a lot of interest in their jobs. Often, this attitude comes from a position they don’t want to invest in training you, seeing as you are only a seasonal worker. However, if you start asking genuine questions out of curiosity, they are more likely to start to take on suggestions if you seem like you’ve taken the time to train and educate yourself a little.


3. The boss who is looking for a promotion, so gives you all the crap jobs while taking credit for anything good.


The strategy: This one is a tricky one, as usual strategies for this type of boss would be for long-term employees. However, it is likely that this will be a situation for a number of people, not just you. Get together a group of you and approach your boss about the types of tasks you are getting. If you confront a boss like this, they will often be very willing to listen as they don't want their bad management style filtering out into the organisation and ruining their chances of promotion.


A dog licking its nosePhoto: A dog - much like your boss!


4. The bully.

Unfortunately, a common boss in any industry, the bully stands over employees, excludes some from activities and work, and perhaps even goes as far as threatening or harassing you.

The strategy: A bully will only go as far as you let him or her. While unpleasant, the best strategy is to ask for a meeting and very politely, but very firmly, lay out what the unacceptable behaviour is. If the behaviour escalates or continues, you will need to go above your boss. Make sure to document the bullying actions, and get witnesses if you can.


5. The poor communicator and employee as a boss.

This guy or girl is just plain incompetent, or simply doesn't know how to communicate what he or she wants. This can lead to misunderstandings, and often a frustrated customer who takes it out on you.

The strategy: Remember that not everyone knows how to communicate. There are different styles. You need to work out your boss' style and then play to those strengths. If they like details, learn the details. If they are more hands-off, take some initiative with your work. But, above all, if you are not clear, ask questions until you are absolutely clear. Even if this makes you feel a little slow asking all the questions, it's much better to be certain in advance than a fool in retrospect.


6. The bum.

It’s not just first-time seasonal staff who can be lazy. Some ski bosses make their way up the industry simply by returning year after year. These bosses lack motivation and don’t give you any of the support or training you need to do your job, making your season that much more stressful.

The strategy: While this boss can seem cool at first, it can get quite annoying when nothing gets done and it's you left dealing with angry customers. You should make sure it's not you who has to deal with the angry customers if something goes wrong that was your boss' issue. Once enough angry people stomp through his or her door, the bum boss might start to actually do some proper work.


A few things to keep in mind

1. A gentle look in the mirror

Before you get too upset, it’s important to also take a step back and an objective look at your own behaviour. What is actually making your boss act the way he or she is?

Are you showing up to work hungover every day and unable to function? You need to be a little honest about what is happening to get your boss on your case.


2. Just because you hate your boss, doesn’t mean you hate everyone

You might have a terrible boss at work, but don’t let that spoil all your other friendships with your co-workers. In fact, these are the guys that might be your allies to help you get through the crappy days with your boss.

It also means that you don’t necessarily want to just start slacking off at work – the jobs you don’t pick up will inevitably be picked up by your co-workers and it’d be a shame to wreck your days riding together because they feel you’re not pulling your weight at work.


3. Cool your heels just a little

If your boss gives you a perceived sleight, don’t necessarily fire straight back. You want to see a pattern of bad behaviour before you take action. Everyone gets grumpy at work from time-to-time, including your boss, and including people living the dream working at the snow.


4. Check your comms

Are you communicating with your boss properly? Or do you have just completely different styles of communication? What some people may take as obvious is not always as clear to others. Take a moment to look at how you communicate with your boss and whether you, or he or she, could be more direct in making requests.

Often, a poor working relationship between a boss and employee comes down to both sides misunderstanding what the other wants from them.


5. Voice your concerns

If you stay silent, you will suffer silently. Following on from the above, communication is generally critical in dealing with a bad boss. If there is a real problem, you should make a time to sit down and politely but firmly talk through your grievances with your boss.

You may have to go to your boss’ boss if you don’t feel comfortable. Remember that finding seasonal staff is quite hard for businesses each season. They don’t want to lose you seeing as they’ve gone to all the effort to hire you and train you for a short winter season.

They may be willing to reach a compromise solution more readily than you think, for example offering you a transfer to another area of the business.


6. Written is better than spoken, your honour

If you are facing serious problems, like harassment or bullying, you should make sure to document the incidents somewhere – whether on a note pad, or an email to yourself. If there are serious incidents and other people witness these, you should also make a note of this.

Written evidence holds more weight than he-said, she-said, in general, so if you ever are called upon to describe the incidents, you will have notes at hand.


7. The option to quit

If it is really intolerable, remember that you are only there on a seasonal basis and you have the option to quit if you really need. Plenty of switch jobs throughout the season, including to work at a different business in the same resort.

Once you have settled into the season, you will have a bunch of contacts at other businesses around the resort. Use these to help find yourself a new job, which can ease the stress of finding new work halfway through the season.


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