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Learn to spot the 7 types of bad bosses, and find out how to handle them

Posted by Shivali Anand

June 29, 2021

Even the most satisfying job can become a nightmare when you’ve got a troublesome boss. Terms like micromanager, narcissist and just plain lousy may come to mind if you report to one. These vexing leaders can become the bane of their team’s morale and lead to poor retention.   Here we describe the seven “classic” kinds of bad bosses and provide advice on how to deal with them.

  1. The stickler for details / micromanager

Only the boss is correct, and everyone else is wrong. Worse, they seemingly can’t stop hovering while waiting for the opportunity to call out your mistakes. This compulsion to micromanage, which frequently entails giving overly detailed and unnecessary instructions, irritates capable employees, especially when they suddenly become hands-off when the team actually needs direction.  How to cope: If your employer is a controlling perfectionist who proofreads every email you write, you will have to appease them for the time being to gain their trust. Keep them informed of your every step until they feel confident in your abilities. Then you may push the envelope a little and tell them you want to take on additional responsibilities.

  1. The friendly boss

This type of boss is so preoccupied with forming friendships with their employees that they neglect work and seriousness. They have no power and want to be accepted as "one of the team." They crack jokes with their direct reports and routinely have drinks with them. once A friendly boss is prepared to put their productivity and leadership aside to fit in and be liked by their employees. How to cope: This isn't always a negative trait, but you should inform your boss that you also want straight feedback and constructive criticism since it will help you improve. You may have to assist them in establishing limits with you and other junior workers.

  1. The narcissist 

Instead of prioritizing the well-being of the company or employees, narcissistic bosses are concerned with just one thing: themselves. They'll generally be early risers who've kissed more than their fair share of corporate behinds, and they'll focus more on impressing those above them than those below them — frequently to the detriment of their department. How to cope: They are, fortunately, pretty simple to deal with. Stay on their good side, amuse them, keep them informed about your efforts and maintain a positive connection. They'll almost certainly move on to their next promotion soon enough.

  1. The boss out of reach

Although their frequent absenteeism may initially be seen as a positive, the lack of leadership will eventually cause problems. Employees may lose their focus on projects, and a lack of feedback and exposure can stifle your professional development. How to cope: Consider using their absence as a chance to stand apart. Take charge and demonstrate your abilities. If the boss' phone goes straight to voicemail again, find someone else to approve your plan. Be resourceful and engage with other teams and managers. Your efforts will be recognized, as will your boss's nonexistent leadership style.

  1. The hurly-burly boss

These bosses are constantly on the go. They only have one minute to listen to an update on a project, although they are eager to learn more about it. They will ask you to do something and then promptly forget about it. The end result can be chaos. How to cope: Send a weekly update or a summary of the tasks you're working on to your hurly burly boss. That way, instead of updating them on the status of several projects, you can use the little time you have together to ask specific questions.

  1. The imbecile

As the name implies, this boss is one who is utterly out of their depth and leaves the people they supervise scratching their heads, unsure of how they got there. But be careful before you cast your boss in this category. Just because you disagree with a particular choice doesn't necessarily indicate your boss is a fool; they could just be looking at the larger picture. How to cope: If you’re convinced you’ve had the misfortune of being assigned an imbecile boss, you’re in a difficult spot. You can face the storm, work hard and try not to let your boss's incompetence reflect poorly on you, or you can voice your concerns with upper management. But the latter is a dangerous tactic because if you don’t get back-up, you'll find yourself in an awkward situation. Better to cut your losses and try your luck elsewhere in this instance.

  1. The manipulator

Some people automatically think that manipulative bosses are extremely  bright. But this isn’t necessarily true. They do, however, have a set of talents that make them extremely difficult to deal with. For starters, they can take advantage of any circumstance. Their mistakes become your misfortunes, and your triumphs become their victories. The majority of the time, they are passive-aggressive. They also have a hidden objective: They will go to any length to obtain a promotion, and you are just another step on their path to the top. How to cope: First and foremost, don’t attempt to beat them at their own game. They are not only better at it, but they also know more than you because of their position. You can try to be upfront and honest with them while still demonstrating that you are not dangerous. Maintain a safe distance, don't look weak or easily intimidated, and be aware of your rights. If they go too far, your HR department may be able to assist you.


Shivali Anand
Shivali Anand

Shivali Anand is a content developer at Escalon Business Services. Her expertise lies in creating consistent and relevant B2B marketing, SEO and social media content. She is armed with a PG Diploma in English Journalism from the IIMC Dhenkanal, Odisha. After starting as a travel writer, she embarked upon a career as a copyeditor, news content specialist, and researcher across organizations including Ministry of MSME, Vaco Binary Semantics LLP, Doordarshan News, and New Delhi Times.

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