Workplace Worries

What to do about a new boss.

My boss is driving me to the edge. Before she took over, the hospice I work for was a joy-filled place. Now, the nurses and all other staff look over their shoulders, and several have quit. She scrutinizes the irrelevant and even says things to salaried employees like, "You left two minutes early. I’m watching you!" I work directly with the patients, yet she ignores any patient-related issues and reads us the riot act if we fail to punctuate in an email. To make matters worse, she follows none of her own advice. How do I stay motivated in this environment?

Bad bosses are easy to find. Unfortunately, when you have one, your choices are limited. First and foremost, it is important to step back to consider if the criticisms are merited, despite the irritations you are experiencing. Essential for any Catholic to grow in holiness is accepting criticism with an open mind. That being said, I find the approach your boss is taking to be very destructive.

In order to remain motivated, I recommend three strategies. The first is to keep the main things the main things. If you get distracted away from the primary role of patient care, then everyone loses. So keep your head down and serve the people you are there to serve. In some cases, new bosses come on very strong, but, eventually, they mellow out on irrelevant issues. There is no guarantee this will be the case, but if it is, you want to be sure you have the important areas of your job functioning.

The second approach is to ask her to clearly express what her expectations are for you in your role. Ask her to include priorities, timelines, schedules and standards. This is important because it is one of the only ways to build trust. If you hit these standards, and she pulls away from criticism and even praises your work, then you will trust her and know she is sincere. If she changes her expectations frequently, you will recognize her insincerity. In that case, the only option is to work hard and endure the criticism quietly. In other words, complaining will do no good, so if you choose to stay, then keep focused on what’s important and offer up the difficult atmosphere to God. 

The third strategy may seem like a defeatist answer. That strategy is to find another job. You can’t make a bad boss a good one — but you can be prudent about how to move on if you need to. Be sure to show respect and avoid burning a bridge, even if you have a desire to get a few digs in when you leave.

Ultimately, our work is not about what we do — it’s about who we become while we do it. These forms of suffering shape us and our relationship with Christ. He allows them and knows they are good for us in the long run. 

Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at