I've never worked for a boss I didn't like or respect. Sure, some were better than others, but I never considered quitting my job because of a bad boss. Unfortunately, many employees aren't so lucky.
If your boss is a total butthead, someone you'll never get along with, admire or respect no matter how hard you try, there are a few things you can do.
Wait. Is your boss close to retirement or promotion--or even better--termination? If so, try to bide your time and wait until that happy event happens.
Bite your tongue. Keeping anger and frustration bottled up inside is not healthy, but neither is complaining about your boss at work. So if your family can tolerate it, vent at home instead. It'll make you feel better even if it does nothing to help your situation. It may be tempting to complain about your boss at work, especially if coworkers are talking about the same problems. But resist that temptation! If your boss finds out that you are complaining about him, he'll have a legitimate reason to take appropriate action against you and make your life under him worse than it already is.
Continue to work hard. Regardless of how your boss treats you, it's in your best self-interest to continue doing your job to the best of your ability. Stay focused and think about how your efforts are helping the company as a whole. If you do a good job, you may get noticed by your boss's colleagues or even his superiors. Maybe a better opportunity will arise.
Try to improve your relationship. If your boss is a complete butthead, this may be impossible no matter what you do. But if he's only a partial butthead, perhaps it would be worth your time to try to make the situation better. After all, this person may have control over your advancement up the career ladder. And while quitting may seem to be the easiest thing to do, searching for another job, having to explain why you left your last one, and struggling to get a decent reference from an ex-butthead-boss may make leaving a difficult option for you. Instead, swallow your pride and try to understand your boss's management style and personality and adapt yourself to that. For instance, if he's a micromanager, give him constant updates and details on what you're doing (even if you think it's a waste of your time and he should just trust you to do your job). Effective communication is very important, and it works both ways. If your boss is unclear in telling you what he wants, ask questions until you know exactly what's expected. During performance evaluations or one-on-one discussions, ask him what you can do to meet his expectations.
Go over your boss's head. This is rarely a good idea. But if you've tried everything else, and you feel that your boss is making serious mistakes that affect the company (and not just you), consider talking to his superior. If you take this route, be prepared with specific examples and proof, not just accusations. And realize that this tactic may backfire on you (especially if your boss's boss is also a butthead).
Leave. This may be a difficult decision for you, especially if you like your work, benefits, coworkers and company. But you must also consider your sanity (and that of your family to whom you vent). Carefully weigh the alternatives and if you decide that leaving is your best option, do it right. Don't yell "I quit!" during a heated argument. Plan ahead--update your resume, start consulting with your network, look for another job. Your goal, if possible, is to have another job lined up before you tell your boss you're leaving. And even then, resist the temptation to tell him off. Try to leave on the best terms possible and don't burn your bridges. You never know when and where that butthead boss might show up in your future!
Bonnie Lowe is author of the popular Job Interview Success System and free information-packed ezine, "Career-Life Times." Find those and other powerful career-building resources and tips at her website: http://www.best-interview-strategies.com.