No matter whom we are, what we do, why we do it and where we live, 99% of us have had someone we call boss, manager, supervisor, or any other title that makes us accountable to them (to avoid confusion, from here on in, I will refer to this person as “boss”).
Bosses come in various shapes and sizes. While researching this topic, I stopped after finding 40 different types of bosses! Knowing that was ridiculous, I compared all the information gathered, and obviously saw a variety of “names” for bosses with the same kind of traits. After narrowing this down, I found 10 distinct types of bosses that were described in at least three sources. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly), most of the typical bosses are flawed in one way or another. Dealing with a difficult boss can be quite a painful affair and some of the bosses mentioned below can be a real nightmare.
- He’ll “Control your Soul” — More commonly known as a control freak, nitpicker, or micro-manager, this boss is my personal nightmare. Nothing you do will ever please the control freak. He will question every decision you make about everything. Anything that doesn’t match up to his standards will automatically be discarded. You walk around on eggshells, afraid to breathe wrong, cough, or God forbid, have an original thought. You lose faith in your abilities, and begin to second-guess all your decisions. Soon you can’t think or function on your own. It’s believed the driving force behind this behavior is anxiety about failing or making mistakes. Controlling others gives them reassurance that the right path is taken.
- “BFF,” Best Friends Forever? — He must know Paris Hilton! This boss wants to be your best friend, not your boss. He will go to great lengths to avoid conflicts or confrontations, and do anything to make sure his employees like him. He will often tell jokes that aren’t funny, invite you to his kids’ birthday parties, and even pull childish pranks on his staff. For the most part, you’ll have a positive work environment, but since his expectations are never fully clear, you are typically unsure of what do you, and also uncertain if you’re doing it right.
- “Just Mean and Nasty, and I Mean it” — Also goes by names like monster, bully, the shouter, devil, and the boss from hell! This type of boss is one you want to avoid at all costs. Your life will be miserable. He has a tendency to scream at you, in front of other employees and customers, and typically does this to anyone, anywhere. He is totally unapproachable, and shows he has no compassion, pity, remorse or human decency. He seems to take pleasure in belittling you for no reason. In business he is ruthless; would push his mother under a bus if it benefited him in some way. One source stated her boss was heard to say, “I had to let him go; he wasn’t showing the right level of commitment. He preferred to go to his mother’s funeral rather than come to work. What do they think we’re running here? A holiday camp?” Run for your life, while you still have an ounce of sanity!
- “Bumble, Bumble This Boss Will Fumble” — This boss is so incompetent and useless, someone must have died for him to get the position! He won’t give you straight answers, because he has none, but refuses to take the blame for anything that goes wrong. He has an alibi or excuse for everything, and even “documented” proof showing he wasn’t around at the time, or other things to cover his a**. He has no ambition or drive, and is so boring and uninspiring, he probably couldn’t motivate a dog to bark! If you have a great idea that you know will work, don’t take it to this lackluster character, because he won’t have the intelligence to understand it.
- “All Work and No Play. . . .” — This martyr will work Christmas, Thanksgiving, and can be found at the office at 4:00 am. What’s worse is, he expects you to do it too! Its business all the time; no fun, no emotion, no personal pictures or items allowed. He knows when you’re goofing off, and even knows when you’re just thinking about goofing off. He doesn’t sleep, eat, drink, pee or have a life, and doesn’t expect you to either. He’s been heard saying, “I walked to the office for six weeks after my car crash, even though both my legs were broken. Why can’t you stay another hour each night, without pay? I would.”
- “And I Do Mean Demean” — This manager is similar to Mr.Mean & Nasty, except he focusses on and takes great pleasure in belittling and humiliating, for no apparent reason at all. His ego is so big, you wonder how he gets through the door. He lets you know each day how much of his time is wasted just acknowledging your existence, let alone answering your questions. Then he’ll poke his head out his office, yell as loud as he can to the rest of the staff, “So-and-so doesn’t know how to . . . .,” does someone want to show this idiot how to do it,” and for good measure he’ll throw in, “if he’s not too stupid to understand!” Every day after this, he has another cutting remark. “Do you know how to turn the computer on?” “Should someone show you how to alphabetize these?” “When the big hand is on the 12 and so is the little hand, you can go to lunch.” He makes you feel so awful and useless, but if you show it upsets you, he’ll only do it more. The only way to get this egomaniac off your back, is to give him a taste of his own medicine.
- “Do What I Say, Not What I Do” — This hypocrite will say anything to get what he wants from you. You want a raise? A promotion? Time off? No, problem – but don’t hold your breath. His only motive is self-interest, and what’s in it for him. He’ll promise you anything, but never deliver. What’s more, everyone has different rules. This charlatan plays favorites; and like the “teacher’s pet” maybe you’ll get to eat lunch with the “big kids.” Take advantage while it lasts, because as soon as he finds a new patsy, you’ll be dropped like a hot potato.
- “Scheme a Little Scam for Me” — He’s so obsessed with protecting his position, he’ll go to any extreme. Smart and shrewd, he’ll manipulate you into believing he genuinely cares. It’s all a big act; he wants you to feel so secure and well liked, you will share your weaknesses and fears. I really had a boss like this. She was the epitome of innocence and selflessness; a do-gooder, who was always willing to help. Everyone loved her, especially the superiors she worked so hard to impress. I don’t remember how I figured it out, but she would give me an important project, knowing I couldn’t possibly finish it. Of course she had the missing pieces, and no one was the wiser. She always swooped in at the last minute and saved the day! The more she took credit for my hard work, the more incompetent I’d appear. Her other trick was to steal/remove part of my work, when I wasn’t around, and watch as I went crazy, thinking I was losing my mind! You can’t report this manager, because of course, no one would believe you, so you must beat him at his own game. When no one is around, you either find and take back the work he stole off your desk, or remove some of his. He’ll finally realize you’re on to him, but can’t report you, because you’ll spill your guts! The other thing you can do is get one of those hidden cameras and catch him in the act. You’ll be the hero and he’ll be out on the street.
- “Shrinking Violet” — This boss has no backbone. He avoids any kind of confrontation or discord, like the plague, but unlike the “BFF” boss, this guy is unquestionably too afraid to deal with altercations of any type. As a manager, he is often faced with difficult decisions, such as firing employees. However, because Mr. “Weakest Link,” has panic attacks just thinking about reprimanding an employee, let alone firing him, your office is a free-for-all. Knowing they can get away with just about anything, the freeloaders slack off even more, others join in, and the few of you who actually work, get stuck doing it all. Worse yet, this “fraidy cat” is likely to wet his pants if a senior manger wants to talk to him. Because of this, he is even too scared to back up his own staff, and often winds up throwing them under the bus, so to speak, and getting them fired. The only way to deal with a boss like this, is to take the bull by the horns, march in his office and bluntly tell him, if he doesn’t get firm and do something about the riff-raff, you will! At the next company meeting or if there’s a suggestion box, propose assertiveness training courses for all employees.
- “Mr. Wonderful” — I’ve saved the best one for last. This manager is too good to be true. You wait for the bomb to drop, the rug to be pulled out from under you, but it never does. He doesn’t just ‘talk the talk,’ but really ‘walks the talk’ as well. This guy is actually real! He is supportive, encouraging, helpful, and believes work can be fun. He motivates his staff in positive ways, and even when he must criticize or reprimand, he will always bring up your strengths before saying anything negative. He’s diplomatic, fair, patient, and most of all H-U-M-A-N! As long as you are doing your job, and don’t take advantage, he understands that people get sick, have family emergencies, and sometimes just need a “mental health” day. Work your butt off, and be thankful every day, because managers like this don’t come along often. On the other hand, don’t get too complacent, cocky, think you’ve got it made, or push your luck, because wonderful as he is, he’s no patsy either. He can be tough if he needs to be, and the one thing that will make him crazy is if you take advantage of his goodness. Do that once too often, and you’ll wonder where Mr. Wonderful went!