Dealing with Real-Life Horrible Bosses

Dealing with Real-Life Horrible Bosses

Truth can be stranger (funnier? crazier? scarier?) than fiction, but let's hope that's not the case when it comes to bad bosses. While the workers in the "Horrible Bosses" movies were pushed so far as to contemplate murder (and kidnapping and blackmail and...) to rid themselves of terrible leadership, most of us just stick it out, according to an OfficeTeam survey.

Desperate Times

Nearly half (46 percent) of employees said they have worked for an unreasonable manager. Among those, 59 percent stayed in their jobs and either tried to address the situation or resolved to live with it. Of these, 24 percent "suffered through the torment." More than a third (38 percent) quit their jobs but 11 percent left without having another position lined up (which speaks to how miserable they were).  

Coping Measures

The survey suggests 35 percent of you will choose to tolerate your horrible boss if you have one, and therefore, will need a few pointers on how to deal. Below is an overview of just a few of the types of subpar leaders you might run across in your career, along with a few recommendations for how to survive the chaos.

  • The micromanager has trouble delegating. This boss looks over your shoulder to make sure you complete a project exactly as told.

    Try this: Make sure you build trust, which is usually the issue here. Don't miss deadlines, pay attention to details and keep your supervisor aware of all the steps you've taken to ensure quality work.

  • The poor communicator provides little or no direction. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute or redone because your boss didn't clearly explain goals and deadlines.

    Try this: Ask for any information your boss has not yet provided at the start of a project. Diplomatically point out that these details are necessary to ensure you meet his or her expectations. Seek clarification when you are confused and arrange regular check-ins.

  • The bully wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all. Horrrible bosses like this also tend to be gruff with others and easily frustrated.

    Try this: Stand up for yourself. For example, the next time your supervisor shoots down your ideas, calmly explain your rationale. Often this type of manager will relent when presented with a voice of reason.

  • The saboteur undermines the efforts of others and rarely recognizes individuals for a job well done. This supervisor takes credit for employees' ideas but places blame on others when projects go awry.

    Try this: While it's true that part of your job is to make your boss look good, it should not come at the expense of your own career advancement. Ensure your contributions are more visible to others, especially senior management. Get information in writing from your boss so you have a chain of communications to refer to, if needed.

  • The mixed bag keeps you on your toes in a bad way. This manager's moods are unpredictable: He or she may confide in you one day and turn a cold shoulder the next. 

    Try this: Try not to take this boss's ever-changing temperament personally. Stay calm and composed when dealing with him or her. When this leader is on edge, try to limit communication to urgent matters. 

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