Bosses can make or break a workplace, or even a career. There’s that saying, “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses”, and it’s daunting for countless employees. But how do you ‘manage upwards’ if you’re stuck with a rubbish Manager? Just how do you work with a bad boss?
According to HR Magazine, nearly half (42%) of employees surveyed by business networking firm Approved Index had cited their boss as the single influential factor in quitting their jobs.
Top reasons for quitting their bosses included a lack of appreciation (40.76%), being overworked (39.96%) and employee favoritism (34.64%). Does any of this chime with current or past experience?
These stats won’t come as a surprise. Often, it’s the boss’s management style that can be frustrating and even demoralising experience for many employees. But leaving a job doesn’t have to be the solution to a ‘bad boss’.
Recognising their personality traits, and finding ways of adapting to them, could be the answer. Let’s have a look at the types of difficult bosses and how to work with them.
1. The Visionary Boss
Visionaries aspire to a brave new future, but don’t always have the answers or resources to make it happen. Often, they depend on their team understanding what they’re hoping to achieve.
Visionaries aren’t necessarily bad; they’re inspiring and empathetic individuals, and generally they’re keen on listening to others.
How to work with a Visionary Boss:
• Show positivity and enthusiasm; contribute your own ideas.
• Listen closely to their ideas, and take note of their goals for the future.
• Work with your team to brainstorm ideas to help achieve those goals.
2. The Bootcamp Boss
Right or wrong, they’re in charge and they’re giving the orders, whether you agree with them or not. The ‘Bootcamp’ boss can be dictatorial, often intimidating to others and overtly aggressive, and enjoy setting challenges to play team members off against each other.
How to work with a Bootcamp Boss:
• Find strategies for remaining assertive.
• It’s best to just follow their instructions carefully and do your work well.
• Try to achieve results, not just doing tasks. They’ll appreciate your work ethic.
• Show the boss a range of solutions if you’re unsure of what they want.
3. The Micro-Manager
These bosses are literally perfectionists. They are highly controlling, unrelenting and can often be undermining of people. They like to control all aspects of your work even though it’s your job, and they don’t listen to any of your advice – even making changes to your work to please them. They can also be very arrogant and think they know it all.
How to work with a Micro-Manager Boss:
• Don’t let them demotivate you; they want to do your job and everyone else’s – you still get paid.
• Suggest ideas when they ask for them.
• Try to achieve results as objectively as you can to avoid any confrontation.
• Pick your battles carefully, and tactfully defend your corner only if it feels right.
• Compromise is crucial. Make tactful suggestions whilst keeping them in control.
4. The ‘Not Really a Boss’ Boss
At best, the NRAB likes to be friends with all employees, often wanting to be seen as an equal rather than their Manager. They’re likeable, but sometimes emotionally involved rather than being objective.
Sometimes they can be a pushover as well; they might not be comfortable in a leadership-adjacent role. They can be passive in order to avoid trouble, so they’ll let lateness, absenteeism, or slacking on the job slide.
At worst, they’re just an idiot. They have no clue about how to manage a company or a team, yet they’re in a management role. They find it hard to grasp things, can be naïve, and lack considerable judgment to lead a team.
How to work with a NRAB:
• Try to find the right balance between work time and play time.
• Ensure you stay focused on delivering results in case you get distracted.
• Be friendly, but keep professional too.
• Try not to take advantage but see it as an opportunity to rise up the ranks.
• Ensure you’re working closely with colleagues when your boss isn’t on top form.
• Set your achievable goals with the team and work with them to get best results.
• Always remain focused and achieve results – you could get promoted in the future.
• Don’t get too caught up with their lack of leadership, but prove your own potential.
• Exercise your initiative and good judgment, especially on tasks with colleagues.
5. The Workaholic
This boss will ‘live and breathe’ work, putting their job first above all else and working holidays, weekends and after office hours. They can be extremely addicted to work, unsociable and unrelenting, and expecting a lot from you.
How to work with a Workaholic Boss:
• Remember you have a social life after work, so don’t let this boss deter you.
• Ensure you do all your work diligently so they won’t complain.
• Maintain the right attitude and commitment, but don’t overdo it like they do.
6. The ‘Old School’ Boss
This boss has worked in the company for years, but is too stuck in their old ways and can’t accept how times have changed. They’re dinosaurs; too complacent in their traditions, they just can’t seem to listen and embrace new ideas.
How to work with an ‘Old School’ Boss:
• Show that you value the tried and trusted ways of doing things.
• Accept your boss may not try new methods, so work with what you have.
• Let the results speak for themselves if new methods are working for you.
7. The ‘Apprentice Villain’ Boss
This boss enjoys being the workplace villain. They’re ruthless, narcissistic, and even conniving to eliminate any possible ‘threats’ to their status. They intimidate and threaten employees to keep their control, and they value power and status above all else. It’s their way or the highway.
How to work with an ‘Apprentice Villain’ Boss:
• Always keep a sense of integrity and do what you feel is best in the job.
• Ignore any outrageous demands and keep focused on your approach to a task.
• Try to do your best, but if they cause grief then tactfully speak to them about it.
• If this fails, then approach their superiors and tactfully explain your concerns.
• Only look for a new job if the management is not willing to listen.
It’s clear that the best way to cope with a bad boss is to manage your expectations. It’s no failure if you just can’t get along with them – just give 100% to things that are within your control.