boss

According to a variety of studies, 70-90% of Americans are disengaged at work.

Why? There are a number of reasons but one of the most common is a bad relationship with a boss or manager.

Bad bosses exist. I’ve had one or two horrible bosses in my day. If you’re in that situation right now, here are three things you need to do:

1. Improve your work performance to see if it improves your relationship.
You can’t change someone, but you can impact a work relationship sometimes if you improve your work performance. Making a horrible boss’ life easier by doing better work can often turn a horrible boss into a less horrible boss. Choose your attitude, adjust your expectations and hustle to see if you can level things out.

2. Admit you’re an employee.
Sometimes when people tell me they have a horrible boss, what they’re really saying is, “Who do they think they are to tell me to do that project?” At which point I say, “They are your boss, they are 100% of the people paying you money to tell you to do things. That’s kind of how jobs work.” I have a lot of short, awkward conversations that don’t end in hugs or handshakes. If you have a horrible boss that changes the time you get to go to lunch, guess what? She gets to do that. Is it fair? Is it fun? Is it right? Maybe not, but it’s definitely a consequence of being an employee. Do your job. Maybe you don’t have a bad boss, maybe you’re a bad employee. That’s not fun to hear but there’s definitely been times when the problem at work wasn’t my manager, it was me. If that’s frustrating to you, move on to number 3.

3. Turn the frustration into fuel.
Do you know what every bad boss is really saying? “I dare you to get a better job!” Take them up on the dare. Forget gossip and complaining, those don’t get you anywhere. If your boss moves your lunch break to a time different than all your coworkers as some sort of passive aggressive punishment, rewrite what she’s really saying. She said, “Ha! You don’t get to go to lunch with your friends for three weeks,” but I swear you heard, “I dare you to use those quiet lunch breaks without your friends to apply to jobs!” Answer that dare.

I shared these same tips in my New York Times Bestseller Do Over . This post has about 600 words in it. The book has 70,000. If you want to win at work, it’s time to read the other 99%.

If you want to enjoy your current job more, read it.

If you want to become the type of employee who gets paid more, read it.

If you want to improve your relationship with your boss, read it.

If you want to find a new job, read it.

You’re going to work with some difficult humans during your 40-year career. That’s inevitable. Make the most of every working relationship you have by investing in your career the right way. It’s not complicated. There are only four things you need.

Find out what they are in Do Over.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a bad boss, make sure you improve your performance, admit you’re an employee or turn that frustration into fuel.