There are some terrific leaders out there, but unfortunately there are also some absolute stinkers.
I’ve encountered lots of types of horrible boss over the past couple of decades. Some can be labelled very easily, whereas others change their identity more often than Mr Benn.
I've put together our top 10 types of horrible boss. Let’s kick off with one I’m sure we can all identify with.
Horrible Boss No 1: The Lost Lamb
This is the poor soul who has risen through the ranks too quickly and is now completely out of their depth. They literally have no idea what they are doing and are certainly not ready to manage other people. Their shortcomings should quickly be found out and they will hopefully tumble back down the corporate ladder as quickly as they came up it. In the meantime, be careful not to pick up their slack, therefore keeping them in denial of their own ineffectiveness and in the lofty managerial position that just isn’t right for them.
Favourite Quote: “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Horrible Boss No 2: Miserable McMisery
I don’t expect people to be buoyant all the time, but how on earth do leaders expect to motivate staff when they are continually grumpy, stressed or angry? A Miserable McMisery can also be extremely unapproachable, meaning staff are unlikely to share any problems they have with projects, which can have a massive detrimental effect on productivity. Don’t sink to their levels of despondency and try to keep the relationship as professional as possible.
Favourite Quote: “I bloody hate it here.”
Horrible Boss No 3: The BFF
This is the horrible boss, better known as everyone’s "best friend forever", who hasn’t quite managed to strike that balance between professionalism and camaraderie. They can’t fathom why befriending you on Facebook doesn’t really send the right message to the rest of the team. A bit like David Brent, they don’t really command the respect they crave and can’t understand why nobody takes them seriously in the workplace.
Favourite Quote: “Some people are intimidated when talking to large numbers of people in an entertaining way. Not me.”
Horrible Boss No 4: The Energiser Bunny
This horrible boss makes you feel as if even your greatest efforts are barely 10 per cent of what they achieve on a regular basis. Nicknamed the Energiser Bunny because they keep going and going; working late, getting in early and even working weekends.
They will think nothing of sending emails from their BlackBerry at 4am marked "URGENT" and will always set the right example by getting into work even if their appendix has just been removed or the office has been hit by a meteorite. Don’t try to compete. If they want to work themselves into the ground, leave them to it!
Favourite Quote: “Weekends are for wimps!”
Horrible Boss No 5: Terry Teflon
Terry Teflons will take the credit when their team delivers the goods but will be quick to point the finger when the team messes up. They hide their lack of abilities by changing direction so frequently that people stop paying them any attention. Remember that top-priority project they launched last month? Well guess what? It’s been superseded by another lame-brain scheme Terry Teflon is sure will make all the difference this time around. Don’t be afraid to question the thought processes behind their projects, but remember you are judged on execution as well as results, so sometimes you will have to go along with their bizarre projects.
Favourite Quote: “I told you so.”
Horrible Boss No 6: The Big Baby
This is the boss who acts like a toddler, constantly whingeing and complaining about their own boss to you. The way to manage a big baby is to ensure you don’t stoop to their level. Stay professional, positive and neutral. Eventually they will get the message that you are not a sympathetic ear and they will move on to other poor soul who will feel the brunt of their misery.
Favourite Quote: “Just be thankful you haven’t got a boss like I have!”
Horrible Boss No 7: The Climber
The climber always has promotion at the forefront of their thoughts and is desperate to get to the top of that corporate ladder, no matter what it takes. Ultimately they will see you as just a piece of their jigsaw to achieve success and will trample over you if you get in their way. The best way to manage the climber’s peacock-like ego is to tell them that you understand that your job is to make them look good and then try to step into their shoes as soon as they get that swift promotion.
Favourite Quote: “Let’s run that up the flagpole and see who salutes.”
Horrible Boss No 8: The Micro-Manager
Possibly the one boss you would like to hit over the head with your keyboard more than any other, the micro-manager wants to manage everything. They obviously don’t trust your abilities and will constantly ask for updates on projects, therefore slowing down your productivity. The only way to deal with a micro-manager is to make them busy, but even that isn’t a guarantee. If they start timing your lunches, toilet breaks and time in the kitchen, maybe it’s time to have a word before you embed that keyboard in their skull.
Favourite Quote: “That was a long time in the toilet, have you eaten a dodgy curry?”
Horrible Boss No 9: The Politician
Also known simply as "The Liar" or "The Weasel", this horrible boss is full of false promises. Never take anything they say at face value and always get documented evidence before they have a chance to backtrack. I was once promised a £1,000 bonus per deal in a job many years ago. Having delivered 12 deals, I started thinking about the new car I was going to buy. Unfortunately, because the bonus scheme wasn’t captured in writing anywhere, my boss at the time quickly backtracked and said it was a total of £1,000 bonus regardless of how many deals I managed to clinch. Make sure everything is detailed and in writing so that when the politician begins to bend the truth, you always have a paper trail at the ready.
Favourite Quote: “No, no, you must have misheard me.”
Horrible Boss No 10: The Monster
What’s that coming over the hill? The Monster is an even more despicable boss than the micro-manager could ever be. The Monster lives to make your life a living hell and boy are they the masters at it! The Monster will scream at you in front of customers and mock you in front of your fellow employees, knowing that you daren’t retort for fear of what they may dish out. This archaic leadership-by-fear model has no place in the modern office and the Monster is thankfully becoming a dying breed. There really isn’t a way to manage the Monster, you either have to sit it out till they get found out and ejected from the business, or get out and work somewhere else.
Favourite Quote: “Did I ask for your opinion?”
In summary, if you don’t get on with your boss it can be a real pain and your options might be limited. Don’t suffer in silence though, life is too short and if your problems are unresolvable, there are always other jobs out there.
Charles Trivett heads up Coburg Banks’ IT Division, and has worked in recruitment for nearly 20 years.
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