How To Deal With a Crappy Boss

1 Apr

No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself. –William Penn

I recently read somewhere that 80% of an employee’s work experience is based solely on whether they get along with their boss or not. That’s a whole lot riding on another person’s behavior. We are spending increasingly more time at work and that time can be absolutely painful if forced to deal with a crappy manager. Here are the 7 most common types of managers and how to deal with them:

The Clueless Boss

This is the boss who insulates himself – never delving into details and usually just having you handle situations, even those that may be above your pay grade. His dirty little secret: he has no idea what he’s doing. If your manager is vague or provides little direction, it may be that he is lacking management skills and feels uncomfortable telling you what to do. Be clear with him about the direction you need to do your job. This can also be an excellent opportunity for you to step up, take more responsibility and get noticed. But make sure you’re not stepping on any toes. Talk to your boss and let him know that you’re excited about stepping up to the plate and taking on more responsibility. Outline with him what your new elevated responsibilities are. If there are tasks you do not feel comfortable with, be sure to let him know. And make sure to get your new plan in writing.

The Non-Confrontational Boss

These guys usually avoid risk or conflict at all cost and flip-flop between decisions. They are trying to please everyone so they may tell you something in one situation and then flip-flop depending on who else is in the room. It can also be hard to get a straight answer when it comes to review time and you are usually left with no constructive criticism whatsoever. Let them know that you appreciate their honest feedback and in fact, need it to grow in your position. Again, this is definitely a case where you should try and get as much direction in writing so that you have some back-up if they flip flop on you in the future. 
The Idea Snatcher

This is a personal favorite of mine! This type of manager regularly steals your work and pawns it off as her own. She probably tells you that she is in a better position to float your idea up to senior management or that she represents the “team.” If you’re not getting credit for your hard work or ideas, then you need to speak up about it. Outline your concerns with her in a meeting. You can position it that you’d like to get more exposure presenting ideas and projects. If she continues with her bad behavior after you discuss it, involve her boss. But remember to always come from the perspective that you have a great idea and you’d like more opportunities to present them so you can grow.

The Micro-Manager

Ugh – the Micro-Manager. You know him; he won’t let you send out an email before he checks it first and talking in meetings? Fuhgetaboutit! This one may take a little bit of time. You have to prove to the micro-manager that you are capable of putting together great projects from start to finish. Make sure that you are always putting your best foot forward and then speak to them about giving you a little wiggle room. Again, position it as you feel that you’ve proven that you do excellent work – show him your evidence of this – and let him know that you’d love the opportunity to work a little more independently.

The Political Manager

This manager is all about numero uno. She’s a big time self-promoter and her only goal is to move up the corporate ladder. Will she throw you under the bus to do so? You betcha! Political Managers can be tricky but you can win them over by letting them think that you are there to make them look better. It will also be crucial for you to make sure that their boss is aware of how valuable you are. That way, you’ll be looked at as an ally and not a potential threat.

The Workaholic Manager

The workaholic eats, sleeps and dreams work. And he wants you to as well. Be up front with your manager about your need for work-life balance. Also let them know – and show them – how efficient you are by completing your tasks in your regular work hours. Basically, prove to them that you can do an incredible job and still get home before dawn.

The Bully Manager

This is the type of manager who gets pleasure out belittling you, embarrassing you or making you cry. There is no excuse for this type of behavior. You need to stand your ground and be firm, but respectful, in letting them know that you don’t work well with their mean-spirited tactics. If it continues, talk to HR about it.

No matter what type of manager you have, the best way to affect their behavior is to talk to them in an open and honest way. Always be sure to frame your discussion in a way that highlights your eagerness to grow and learn. Without your feedback, they’ll never know what they’re doing wrong. Also make sure you’re being honest with yourself. Are you a part of the problem? What could you be doing to aggravate the situation? Lastly, remember that your boss is human and so it is necessary to have some compassion for them.

Have you had a monster boss before? How did you deal with them? Am I missing any other types of bad managers?

Until Next Time,




6 Responses to “How To Deal With a Crappy Boss”

  1. Ben April 1, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Ha. I think I’ve all of these guys at some point or another. Recommended reading: "Throwing the Elephant" by Stanley Bing. Kind of a humorous Zen approach to dealing with bosses.

  2. Nailah April 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    Ben – Yeah I’ve had quite a few of these bosses as well – sometimes I’ve had one boss with multiple traits! Thanks for the book referral, I’ll have to check this out.N-

  3. Ellie Behling April 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Ha! Great post. The best is when you get a combination of the above…Truthfully though, I have had stints in management and I think I probably wasn’t great. Maybe I’d be better now that I’ve had more experience in the workforce. What is a GOOD boss anyway? Maybe that’s another post.

  4. Nailah April 5, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Ellie – that’s a great point. I’m sure there have been times when I haven’t been the best manager either. That is a good idea for another post. Thanks for stopping by!N-

  5. Ms. Mary Mack April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    Goodness, my skin’s getting itchy just thinking about one of the bad bosses I had some years ago (before I returned to being my own boss again!). She was definitely a sloppy combo of Micro-Manager and Idea-Snatcher…with a healthy dollop of Clueless. Ugh. An absolute dragon. This post is a great tool for those folks suffering under the often oppressive thumb of Bad Boss. Really good tips and advice. (And the pic of Michael Scott really sends the message home. Ha!)

  6. Nailah April 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Ms.MaryMack – Wow that boss sounds like a monster! Kudos to you for being able to get out of the bad boss situation and become your own boss. Thanks for stopping by!

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