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Know how to deal with 13 types of bad bosses at work? Hate your job because you hate your boss? Unfortunately, difficult, bad or ineffective bosses exist in every organization. When you know how to stand up and deal with the problem, you will boost your self-esteem at work. Your stress level will go down and you will feel more in control of your work life. Explore how to deal with 13 types of bad bosses. 

Bad Boss

By Catherine Adenle

It’s ideal that you know how to deal with 13 types of bad bosses. In an ideal world, you would have a great manager who will help you to succeed and make you feel valued. Unfortunately, the words ‘I hate my manager, he’s driving me insane!’ is one of the most common workplace complaints that we hear from people. It’s easy to understand why the problem of bad bosses is a major issue for so many people.

When you consider that you spend most of your time at work and the central figure at work is your boss, it is understandable that whatever you do, you can’t really escape your boss. Seven or more hours a day is a long time to work alongside a bad boss.

‘I hate my manager, he’s driving me insane!’ is one of the most common workplace complaints that we hear from people.

In every job from time to time, you have to deal with a difficult boss. Candidly, conflict is a necessary part of the workplace. A conflict that is well-managed can help to move a workplace forward and generate new ideas. However, conflicts created by dealing with an incompetent or bad boss are highly counter-productive and stressful for staff.

‘Bad or incompetent’ means different things to different people. Just because you find your boss bad or incompetent, doesn’t mean that everyone will struggle with the same boss. In some cases, it could be a clash of two personalities. However, if this is a common complaint amongst your peers too, you will need to equip yourself with tips that will help you to deal with the boss.

What you have the options of doing if you have a bad boss

a. Bear it, say and do nothing
b. Get even and report your boss
c. Look for another job and resign
d. Change your attitude
e. Respectfully request an attitude or behaviour change by your boss
f. Change your behaviour and learn to manage your boss’s behaviour

So, what are you going to do?

For me, points d and f are the best options to consider for palpable reasons. If they both fail, then carefully consider options c and e. You cannot successfully predict and influence how another person will or should act, but you can influence how you act. Changing your behaviour in response to a bad boss is a powerful way to redirect the energy and emotion being experienced by you.

When you stand up and face the problem, you will boost your self-esteem and reduce your stress level at work.

The worst thing you can do is to ignore the situation because things will invariably get worse until they eventually get completely out of control.

This is how to deal with 13 types of bad bosses at work:

13 Types of bad bosses

1. The Micromanaging Boss
2. The Workaholic
3. The Hands-Off Boss
4. The Nitpicker
5. The BackStabber
6. The Selfish Boss
7. The Strict Friend
8. The Unqualified
9. The Pushover
10. The Drama King or Queen
11. The Manipulator
12. The Brown-Noser
13. The Impulsive Boss

How to deal with 13 types of bad bosses

1. The Micromanaging Boss
He can’t trust you to do a good job without poking his seemingly superior nose each time. He’s always at your desk explaining or showing you things. He will waste your time and his by going too much into the nitty-gritty

To cope, ensure that you bombard him with update details first. Be sure to over-communicate and offer up regular status reports, so he doesn’t approach you frequently for updates or ask you to always keep him in the loop.

2. The Workaholic
He is the first to come in and the last to go home. The word, ‘rest’ is not present in his Dictionary. What is work-life balance to him – it means nothing to him! He could stay in his office and work on until the next morning if he is permitted. He sends emails after office hours and at weekends. Just because he works like a Jackal, he expects you to do so too.

Always manage his expectations by sharing updates of your projects, show that you are on track and that your projects are proceeding well. Communicate the next steps. Let him know your after-work obligations and inform him that they prevent you from checking work emails at home after work and at the weekend.

3. The Hands-Off Boss
He demonstrates trust, but he’s not engaging. So he lets you work freely, but the lack of guidance and the autonomy may come at a price. Why? He allows you to do your best work, but go astray and hang yourself as things may go wrong.

Always solicit his feedback. Light some fire on his rear by engaging him. Be proactive and set up regular one-to-one meetings to discuss your projects, challenges and gain mutual agreement.

4. The Nit-Picker
He loves to control everything. He is a master at doling out criticisms. He finds various ways to criticize your work and make changes. He’s most happy when he picks a hole in things. He likes everything done or organized his way.

Carefully ask sensible questions to slightly floor his theory or opinion. Offer a combination of positive reinforcement and questions that may lead him to change his mind.

5. The BackStabber
He acts like your friend but he will freely throw you under the bus at a drop of a hat behind your back in front of others.
Be professional at all times.

Always ask for feedback from him and be quick to change his perception of you or your work whenever he insinuates anything negative. Never discuss anything personal, sensitive or confidential with him.

6. The Selfish Boss
He’s all about him! It’s about how he looks to the upper management. It’s about his own desires and progression. He doesn’t care about your own progression. It’s all about his next promotion opportunity. He covers his back all the time and hangs you out to dry.

Force him to acknowledge you, your work and your growth. Always have a work in progress meeting with him. Ask him to commit to your learning and development. Ask him to include you in training and job shadowing opportunities. Let him know your career aspiration and ask him for his support.

The True Cost of a Bad Boss

7. The Strict Friend
He’s your pal! He acts more like a colleague to you more than a boss, he’s affable to you, and his friendly relationship with you is fine as long you don’t make a mistake.

Know your place with him and do your work if you want to remain in his good books. He brings on his serious ‘no-nonsense’ face if you cross the line. If he has to sack you, he’ll do it without thinking twice.

How to Deal With a Bad Boss According to a Career Coach

8. The Unqualified
He has no clue! He’s rubbish at managing people. Someone who thinks the sun shines out of his backside promoted him to that leadership position. He hasn’t been at the company as long as you or the others, but you have to report to him.

Suck it up and don’t resent him. Be open-minded about his knowledge and skills. Engage him, tell him what you know. Let him learn from you and he’ll respect you. Ask him questions when you want a better understanding of his suggestions.

9. The Pushover
He hates conflict. He can’t say no. Anything goes as far as he’s concerned. He is a figurehead that will agree to anything. Want to stay off work without permission? ‘Go ahead!’ is his answer. Structure and policy aren’t a priority for him.

You are on your own with this boss, he can’t say boo to a goose! He won’t be outspoken on your behalf. Let him know what he should do to support you with your work and growth. Collaborate with your colleagues to cleverly make the right decisions for all of you and the business, then get him to agree and do something about it. Inform him of the work that you can do to add value to the team and make him shine.

10. The Drama King or Queen
He or she is like a headless chicken whenever things go wrong. He/she likes calling meetings and getting overly emotional whenever things go wrong. The Drama King or Queen will tell you that the roof will come caving down. He/she likes to name and shame. With him or her, everything is a big deal.

Anticipate the boss’s drama king/queen behaviour and have an action plan ready to damp it. Put your plan into action when the boss cries wolf. Be careful with your work and don’t make mistakes. Get another pair of eyes to always check your work. See if you can have ad-hoc meetings with him or her to assure him/her that you are on the right track. Let him/her be the first person to know if you have made a mistake.

11. The Manipulator
He’s quick to make promises that he cannot keep to see results. He’s prepared to stretch the truth when it serves his purpose. He lacks morals; he can sweet talk nuts out of a Squirrel’s mouth. He’ll sweet talk you to gain an advantage.

When you deal with this type of bad boss, always document his and your communication. Repeat his comments back to him and ask him if that’s what he means. Have reminders and keep records of all work plans.

12. The Brown-Noser
He relies more on his charm than skills. He shakes like a leaf whenever upper management is around. He says yes to everything they say because he’s keen to be in their good book. Heck, he takes them for dinner to get what he wants, and he fetches coffee for them every day than he manages his team.

Watch what you say as he’d grass on you to gain favours. Don’t gossip with him about anyone. Aim to be in his good book too. Make it your business to know what is important to him so that you know how to meet his expectations. Agree to what he says but ask questions to make him rethink his directives.

13. The Impulsive Boss
He changes his mind like a mother changes her baby’s diaper. He regurgitates ideas upon ideas on impulse without thinking them through. He visits another company; he sees something there that you must implement. He sees a new system, without thinking, he wants you to buy it. He generates tons of unnecessary work and projects.

Praise his ideas first and then ask leading open questions on costs, capacity, fit and what he’s trying to address. You can also have a list of pros and cons for him. These will make him think of his ideas better. That is the only way to make an impulsive boss see that his ideas do not solve any problems, fit with the team or company strategy.

General tips for managing bad bosses

1. Be Professional. This is important. Always deal the kind hand and take the high road. Follow the policy for registering complaints with Human Resources, or higher-level superiors. Don’t resort to name-calling but be straightforward and professional.

2. Be Ready. Study the bad boss’s pattern of bad behaviour and prepare your responses beforehand.
If the boss begins to scream at you while he foams at the mouth, you can calmly ask, “Shall I come back when you are calm and civil please?”

Business mobing

3. Be Proactive. The best way to deal with a bad boss is to have a plan of action in place. Anticipate the boss’s bad behaviour and have an action plan ready. Put your plan into action when the boss misbehaves. Likewise, reinforce good behaviour through a kind comment.

4. Be Persistent. Be prepared for the long haul. See if any of your colleagues are willing to follow your lead and help to straighten a bad boss. The main thing is not to let your boss get away with his bad behaviour.

Now that you know how to deal with 13 types of Bad Bosses, tell us the type of boss that you have and how you manage him or her. Leave your comment below.


Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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