Dealing With a Bad Boss

Not too long ago, a Gallup poll of 1 million workers found that a bad relationship with the boss was the No. 1 reason for quitting a job.

Many surveys also found that the majority of people would dump their bosses if they could.

Even though we can't expect perfection, employee satisfaction with the boss is critical.

In fact, when people leave their jobs, they're typically quitting their boss, not their position or their company.

The ease and anonymity of the Internet has made it possible for anyone with a computer to dish about his or her boss.

There are thousands of random message boards and dozens of major social networking sites that enable people to post comments about their current and former employers.

They also allow you to search for, and connect with, people who work at companies that you may be interested in joining.

So with a few simple searches, you can come up with a lot of information about the person you're eyeing as your new boss.

Because it's a lot more fun to spew criticism than compliments, you have to take this information with a grain of salt. You really have to consider the source and their motives before accepting or rejecting what you read online or what you're told through random connections.

Axes to Grind

All of us probably have someone in our professional past who'll say something not-so-kind about us.

Yet the opinion of one or two people who might have an ax to grind shouldn't have the ability to derail our careers.

The same is true when researching a potential boss: Don't let one comment turn you off or determine your course of action. Don't dismiss it, either. Sometimes where there's smoke, there's fire.

I coach people every week who are looking for new jobs, and I always tell them to not just sell themselves during the hiring process, but also to turn the tables to get the prospective employer and boss to sell themselves, too.

The right fit is a two-way street, and unfortunately, most people neglect this because we're so eager to just get the offer.

The best way to do this is to talk to people who currently work at the company, ask whether you can spend some time with the people who'd be your peers, and don't be shy about posing some pointed questions to the prospective boss.

Key Questions

Why is this position vacant? What's the rate of turnover in this department? Maybe someone was promoted from within, which is a great sign. Maybe it's difficult for people to stay happy in this job. That's a red flag to probe further. Find out why it's so difficult for them to find the right fit.

How do you evaluate your direct reports? What makes an ideal employee? Determine how the boss judges people and learn what styles and traits are most appealing to him or her.

Tell me about your management style. A micromanager wants to know all details and expects to be kept in the loop on everything. Someone else might be hands off, which means he'll assume all is well unless you tell him otherwise. These management styles are not good or bad, but only you can determine which you'd prefer.

Recently, I worked with a woman who read on various message boards and heard from colleagues in the industry that the boss she was interviewing with demanded long hours from his employees.

She worried about that but didn't know how to bring it up. I suggested that she ask, "Can you describe a typical day for your team, including the hours you expect?"

When the man said everyone worked until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. to get the job done, she knew that would be an issue for her, given her commuting time and family obligations.

It is better to know in advance instead of being surprised after you accept an offer.

Tory Johnson is "GMA's" workplace contributor and the CEO of Women For Hire. To connect with her directly, visit