Horrible Bosses and How to Handle Them

We’ve all heard boss nightmare stories or at least laughed at the hilarity of the Horrible Bosses comedy safely in the confines of an air-conditioned movie theatre. These stories are all very funny until we’re faced with a horrible boss of our own. Too often, many of these are fact and not fiction film.

Most bosses fit into seven categories. See if any of these 7 “characters” below match your supervisor’s characteristics:

The Rat – is out for his own good. He sniffs around, looking for opportunities that will lead only to his personal gain. The Rat, like all rats, is sleazy, plays fast and loose with the rules. No one feels comfortable around him.
How to Handle - Best to avoid altogether (often, their reputations precede themselves). If too late, report unethical or possible illegal behavior to the Chief Ethics Officer or through your company’s anonymous 24 hour ethics hotline. If that doesn’t exist, bring to the attention of HR.

The Hog - takes all the credit for your work and great ideas. You feel as though you can’t express your opinion because it will be stolen. This leads to anger, frustration and ultimately a demoralized workforce.
How to Handle - Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. Also, be sure not to counter the “hog” by tooting your own horn. Keep being a good contributor and be supportive of your boss. Most people who matter know the real score. Eventually you’ll be recognized for your behind the scenes contribution.

The Badger – This micromanager is so busy standing over you that nothing ever gets done. He / She is too busy making sure your minute tasks are achieved that big picture results are never seen. You want to burrow through a tunnel to escape.
How to Handle - Badgers micromanage for various reasons; some are control freaks, others either don’t trust or have confidence in certain individuals. Schedule a meeting with your boss to determine the reason. Obviously you must be careful regarding your approach. Be prepared by having a specific example (where you believe you were being micromanaged). Ask what you can do differently to gain (your bosses confidence).

The Fox – We are never safe from sly, sly, Mr. Fox. His cunning and manipulation is unmatched, and he appears to be one step ahead at all times, loving the politics. He pits one employee against another, plays favorites and always keeps you guessing.
How to Handle - Don’t play into their hands. Avoid engaging in gossip or responding to questions that are obviously aimed at garnering information that can be used as ammo.

The Tasmanian Devil – Perhaps some remember Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada.” This type is a tyrant, a bully that leads through intimidation and not so veiled threats leaving a path of destruction behind.
How to Handle - Many organizations have a zero tolerance policy against this type of boss. Bully bosses should be reported to HR. If your company’s culture has such a policy and are serious about backing it up, chances are good they will be severely reprimanded or terminated. This is happening with increasing frequency. If your company turns a blind eye to bullies, and you’ve exhausted other avenues (HR, Ethics Officer, etc.), best not to confront the boss.

The Chameleon – Makes promises and “special deals” with individuals but then bends with the wind. Often acting like a jellyfish no backbone, he /she will leave you high and dry. The Chameleon tries to please everyone but winds up pleasing no one.
How to Handle - Try to pin your boss down with specifics. Get “it” in writing if possible and save e-mail threads. They’re less likely to back down if you can pin them down.

The Squirrel - A Squirrel boss can't make up their mind, and lives by being indecisive. By the time they decide, it’s too late; they get run over. Too often, they leave employees in limbo leading to frustration.
How to Handle - Be persistent and keep pushing for a decision. Arm yourself with facts/data (a business case) supporting the case for action along with the repercussions for inaction or delayed decision-making.

It is important to recognize what type of boss you are dealing with and determine the best way to handle your current work environment.

Do you recognize any of these for yourself?