The 3 types of difficult bosses and the 4 essential ways of dealing with them!

The average person spends 40 hours a week at work, or nearly 2000 hours per year! Throughout the average lifetime, it’s said that most people will now have between 4 and 10 careers – that means a lot of bosses!

The 3 types of difficult bosses

Most people have had to deal with a difficult boss at some stage of their lives. Working with a bad boss can make the days drag on and raise your anxiety and stress levels. There are proactive ways to deal with a bad boss, but first it’s imperative to work out exactly what type of bad boss you have.

The Micro Manager

A micro-managing boss doesn’t seem to trust you with anything. They constantly second-guess your decisions and look over your shoulder. Nothing you do is ever good enough and they barely give you any exciting projects at all, preferring to steer you towards the dull, monotonous tasks that they could entrust to the cleaning lady!

The Aggressive Bully

A bully-boss will often lose his or her cool. They can usually be seen thundering through the corridors, making everyone feel uncomfortable and under threat. The aggressive bully will usually pick on people ‘smaller’ than they are – that is – people lower down the business chain of command. If you fall into this category, then watch out! You could be the bully-bosses’ next target!

The Napoleon

He or she likes to conquer and divide. Often the office is like a case of “he said, she said” where all the employees are pitted against each other over the most minor of infractions. A Napoleon boss is often not very confident in his or her abilities or social standing within the group. Sometimes their show of power and demanding behaviour can be a virtual cry for help.

The 4 best strategies to deal with a bad boss

Once you have worked out which type of bad boss you have, there are 4 basic strategies you can employ to deal with them in the most effective way. The best thing is, if you deal with a bad boss in the correct way, both you and your boss will actually be happier, more efficient and may even enjoy a longer working relationship than if you were constantly clashing every day.

Learn to adapt has a great article where work-life expert Tevis Rose Trower, founder of Balance Integration Corp in New York City tells an all-too-common story: “This boss held court and psychoanalysed my life while I was pinned to the chair across her mahogany desk,” she says. “Instead of retreating, I took the high road, learning to hold the boss in compassion even when the boss monopolized my time.”

The boss’s excessive need to speak at length with her for ages and ages was her way of expressing a basic human desire. Trower broke her own rule of not getting sidetracked from “mountains of work” and listened to her boss. She says that this tactic worked, as it created a way for her to move forward in a positive way, without too much of her time being unnecessarily marginalised.

Identify your boss’ motivation

It’s also important to try to understand why your boss does or cares about certain things. This can give you some valuable insight into his or her management style. Nadia Jones from Brazen Careerist says: “If the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’ motivation.”

Looking at what drives them can provide the biggest clues to their bad or suppressive behaviour, she says. “Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it looks to other employees and their superiors.”

Fuss over them

Monica Wofford from AOL says: “Certain personalities love to be “fussed over” more than others, but who doesn’t like to be made to feel special? The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” exists for a reason and there’s a chance your boss can’t really share most of what is going on with anyone.”

Monica suggests that you need to ‘have your boss’ back’. Offer to get her lunch. Be helpful and ready to serve and see if it changes your perspective and hers.” Some bosses may need this sort of TLC (Tender Loving Care) and by giving it to them before they ask you could help to make them feel more secure in their management style, essentially easing your own path.

Hug it out

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to listen to your boss and try to talk to them like you would a friend or family member. Susan M. Heathfield writes on “Tell him/her what you need from them in terms of direction, feedback and support. Be polite and focus on your needs.”

She suggests that “…telling the boss he’s a bad boss is counterproductive and won’t help you meet your goals.” So what is the solution? “Ask the manager how you can help him reach his goals. Make sure you listen well and provide the needed assistance.” She also suggests that employees with bad bosses should seek a mentor from among other managers or more skilled peers, “with the full knowledge of your current manager, to enlarge your opportunity for experience,” says Susan.

Are you a great employee?

Lastly, have a look at your own behaviour. We all have our off days and if you and your boss have been feeling the pressure lately, check out how you’ve been relating to them. Offer to buy your boss a coffee, or bring him or her a home baked muffin one day. Sometimes little gestures can really make a difference when it comes to healing a potentially toxic relationship.


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