If you are in this situation, you have a choice. You can continue to blame the boss and seek ways to ignore or subtly undermine him/her. Or you can take the initiative to improve the relationship.
Tips on working better with the boss
1. Find out exactly what the boss is expected to deliver and what he/she needs from you.
If you understand the organization's expectations of your boss, you can make it your first priority to help him/her meet these objectives. Bosses generally have greater accountability for failures. How bosses handle stress and pressure can vary depending on their experience and degree of comfort in the role. If bosses have confidence that you understand their obligations and are committed to providing support, they will be more likely to trust you, share concerns and champion your ideas.
2. Separate the role of the boss from the person.
You don't have to like your boss personally. But you do need to understand the role the boss plays in the organization and how best to support that role. Try to objectively assess your boss's strengths. Then figure out how you can play to those strengths and use them to help you get your job done.
3. Step back and examine your own motives.
Ask yourself what is causing you to have a negative reaction to your boss. Did the boss get the job you wanted? Was the boss once a colleague of yours? Is the boss much younger than you? You may have some unconscious resentment that is getting in the way of seeing the boss fairly.
4. Seek common ground.
Even if your boss is a bad one, research (Lombardo/Eichinger) strongly shows that confronting the situation usually fails. See the situation as an opportunity to improve your conflict management skills and look for ways to find common ground. Those higher up in the organization may be aware of your boss's negative traits. Make sure you are not seen in the same light.
5. Get feedback from mentors and colleagues.
Ask those you trust for their perspective on the situation. Can they offer views on your strengths and weaknesses? Can they see opportunities to improve the relationship that you cannot?
6. Make the best of a bad situation and learn from it.
Dedicate yourself to doing your best to meet all legitimate requests of the boss. Do not get distracted by the emotional noise of the situation. You can learn as much about leadership from a bad boss as a good one. Observe the boss's leadership behaviour. Ask yourself what works, what doesn't and why. Resolve not to copy your boss's potentially career-derailing behaviours in your current job and as you advance in your own career. And remember that organizations are not static. People, including you, move on (see 7 below).
7. If all else fails, look for another job.
If your relationship with your boss is truly impossible for you to sustain, it is time to leave. You are responsible for managing your own career. Work to maintain a reasonable peace with your boss and take the time to carefully plan your next career move. It goes without saying that you never badmouth your boss to future employers.