I am new at my job and my boss is a nightmare. He has really unpredictable mood swings. One minute he’s upbeat, the next he’s shouting and screaming about how hopeless we all are. My colleagues also find him difficult to deal with, but I’m starting to dread going to work. I wish I’d never taken this job. Could you give me some advice?

I’m sorry to hear you’ve found yourself in this situation. However, there is no point in looking back and wondering what might have been. It seems to me two things are going on here. First, your boss’s behaviour is not conducive to a positive working environment and that’s really his problem not yours. He sounds like someone who uses manipulation and bullying to manage his team through fear, as opposed to a good manager who always tries to cultivate the best in others.

Second, it seems to me that he has caused you to suffer a crisis of confidence about your own abilities and that this anxiety has generated classic panic symptoms that are constantly threatening to overwhelm you, and at some point, I’m afraid, probably will if you don’t have a strategy for dealing with them. To create more of a balance, I suggest you become pre-emptive in opening up lines of communication with him. By that I mean ask him questions about where you should focus your energies in order to help the team to achieve its goals. Doing this means that you take back a sense of control and get to know exactly what your boss wants and how you can play your part in helping to achieve it.

Also try to identify a colleague who could act as a mentor. Having someone who can guide you through those early months of a new job can help to build your confidence.

It’s also imperative that you make sure that when you’re not at work you are taking time to relax and enjoy yourself. Put work worries to one side and make the effort not to let them invade your free time. Make sure you get plenty of exercise and spend time with people who make you feel happy and this will help to counteract the difficulties you are currently having in your work life.

Finally, I would say set yourself a time limit for things to improve. When all is said and done, if you’ve tried your best to make it work and it still hasn’t, then start to look elsewhere, as battling on like this could have a detrimental effect on your health and mental well-being.