A bad boss’ impact on mental health

I watched my boss through his plate glass window office. I had already put in a 12-hour day, I was tired and frustrated. I had spent the day working on my piece for the next day’s newspaper and he was making wholesale changes. 

I was all for edits, I loved good feedback, but his changes often made little sense and were done without much thought or consideration to style or tone. When he was done, he handed it back to me with a huff and went back to his desk. 

I made his changes and then left for the day exhausted and beaten. When I pulled into my apartment complex, I was confused on how I had gotten into this strange situation. I hated my job, it took everything to get up and out of bed everyday and go into work, but my home life couldn’t get any better. I loved my time with my wife.

Managers and our mental health

I’ve had more than a few moments like that in my life. I saw a report this week that helped give the problem some context. A new report from the Workforce Institute shows that managers impact employees’ mental health (69%) more than doctors (51%) or therapists (41%) — and at the same rate as a spouse or partner (69%). Other reports from other firms have reported similar findings.

I’m not surprised by the numbers. It makes sense that managers and bosses would have a significant impact on your life, but it was interesting for me to see the figures in black and white and see how much of a role a bad manager can have on our lives.

In my own situation, I was newly married and extremely happy, my time in the evenings and weekends were heavenly. I couldn’t wait to get home to my wife. At the other end of the spectrum, I hated my job. My boss cared little about anyone else, his actions rarely matched what he promised, and I could never give him what he wanted. 

An uneven scale

I tried to keep my two lives separate, a barrier so-to-speak, but work caused more than a few unnecessary headaches. My wife commented on how nervous I seemed to be over little things. Of course, I was worried constantly about my boss blowing up on me and work. I guess I’m not alone in work challenges seeping over into home. In the report, 43% of employees reported “often” or “always” being exhausted, and 78% of employees said that stress negatively impacts their work performance. That stress from work carries into our personal lives, with employees reporting work negatively impacts their home life (71%), wellbeing (64%), and relationships (62%). 

My wife was wise enough to see the source of my unhappiness, but it still caused some early tension in our marriage. Fortunately, I wasn’t in the job long. My wife was experiencing her own work challenges and we decided to move back to Pennsylvania. I hated resigning from the job, because it took a long time to get and I had worked hard, but it felt good leaving a bad job behind and turned out being one of the best decisions we ever made.

We put each other’s happiness over work.

Images by Fauxels via Pexels

24 thoughts on “A bad boss’ impact on mental health

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  1. Good to read that you had an understanding and loving wife who supported you through these times, Brian. There seems to be a western business culture which favours profit over welfare for workers. I experienced many managers who were promoted on the basis of connection rather than competence, during my working life. The pandemic has made people realise there is a balance to be had between work and home. Hopefully the balance is starting to tip back to less work and more play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right Davy. These bad bosses got their job because of closeness with their supervisor or because they were a subject matter expert but didn’t know how to manage. A person may know the job well, but that doesn’t mean they know how to manage and get the most out of people. YOu’re right too about the pandemic’s influence in helping people to see the importance of balance. I know it’s influenced me. I take the financial loss then stay with a bad manager. It’s too much of impact on my health and mental state. Thanks so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You made a good decision, Brian life is too short to put up with an abusive boss or other negative work environment. We had a somewhat similar situation at one point in our lives and made the collective decision to move back. Best decision we ever made. And so very fortunate when you can make that decision together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, yes, work matters, but it can’t be the only thing. I’ve had great bosses and I’ve had horrible ones. I’ve never felt bad about leaving a bad boss. You gotta worry first about your family and your own health. Life is too short! Thanks for the great advice Jane. Appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing, Brian…so many things running through my head! Most of all, the importance of taking care of yourself. Workplace animosity seems on the rise, based on observations of my clients’ experiences…and it’s hard to watch/witness when I know there are better, more collaborative and supportive leadership avenues. Such a topic! Thanks for posting about it. 😔

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I am so glad that you guys have such a strong marriage! I have worked for some real jerks myself and have walked out on them. Employees always deserve better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! The last job I had was in 2016, I worked for a retired military guy who was younger than me at U Haul. He seemed to think that he was still in the military by the way he basically bullied me around.

        I gave him a warning shot across the bow one day and told him I didn’t like the way he treated me. He backed off for a while then started up again. When that happened, I went to the office and told his wife, the other manager who was very nice that I am resigning. I have self-respect and dignity. Bye!

        Nobody deserves that crap.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Brian, I can relate to this more times than I care to admit. 😫 To deal with it, although you carry “their” messes home even when you didn’t want to, were great stressors. I learned that (1) They weren’t qualified for the job; they just loved the title of being addressed a boss (2) They didn’t have the “Manager” type of mentality and discipline. They were the ones with the problems. We were the trash can they dumped their insecurities on. SMH 😲😱😖 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes, yes, Kym. You are so right. I think the funny thing for myself any way is to look at my performance for bad managers versus good ones. When I’ve been fortunate to have a great boss, I’ve run through brick walls, worked to turn water into wine, and went out of my way to have things done right. A great boss makes all the difference in the world. (I’m convinced that the work matters less than the boss. If I have a great boss, I could be counting widgets and I would be happy. If I have a bad boss, one hour doing that would feel like a decade. Ha, ha.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my goodness Brian, you nailed it, and I feel the very same way! Bad vs. Good can make a heck of a difference mentally, emotionally and physically. When I found myself teetottering on ungodly thoughts, 😲 God either moved them out, or moved me in a different direction. Yes! 😊🙏🏼🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I had to learn the discipline of leaving work at work and not bringing it into our home space. Mrs. Chess was much better than I at that skill early on in our relationship, and she helped me in being able to throw that switch and put work “on the shelf” until it was time to go back. I have had my share of horrendous and wonderful supervisors alike, and certainly on more than one occasion wondered how in the world they got a leadership role in the first place. Happiness > Work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, you’re right about discipline. Keep it at work. I’ve learned a lot from younger coworkers, but one area where I’ve resisted over the years is blending work and home. I’ve made some accommodations there, but I never wanted to bring home a bad job to my family. It comes home naturally, but I didn’t want to add to the problem. Great advice Bruce, thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The statistics are frightening. I wouldn’t think it would be that high, but work takes a big chunk out of your day! My daughter had a job preCOVID that she loved in marketing for a sports company. But the they hired a manager that she couldn’t stand. He would tell her to do things she was uncomfortable with like call a publication and ask them to change a headline, editorial or photos in a news story already published. She knew that a new site wouldn’t do that, but she had to make the call or be yelled at. Then the manager went through her work and asked her to make changes on press releases that had already gone out and resubmit them! Like you said, they were changes that made little sense. Unfortunately, or fortunately, COVID hit and most of the company was laid off including her and that manager.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So fascinating to see the numbers on the impact of bosses versus other people. Wow! Yeah, bad bosses and/or work environments really impact our lives.

    Thank goodness for your lovely wife and that you got out of there. As you noted, it’s hard to do when we are invested in the job or work, but given the numbers you’ve about the impact to the rest of life, necessary so as not to affect everything else.

    So interesting! Thanks, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

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