Who They Are And How To Survive Them
A couple of days ago, I was talking with a friend who’s just left his job. Him and I met in Dubai; we both started work on a scorching day in June as the temperatures were pushing 48C (118F) and been friends since, for almost 14 years now.
As he was wrapping up his life in Dubai to move back to the UK, we were reminiscing about some of the things we both loved about our Dubai life but also about some of the things we couldn’t stand; the later mainly revolving around people we worked with or for.
Picking up from that conversation, here is my roundup, in no particular order, of the most horrible bosses and how to survive them:
The dragon is the managers’ dream and the colleagues’ nightmare. A true workaholic through and through, there is nothing to stop the dragon from spending every living moment in the office. Having the flu or being sick is never a good enough reason to stay home; as long as you can stand on your feet, you can work.
I used to be one of these people once.
I was unstoppable! My bosses loved me; there was never a “this can’t be done”, it was only a question of how.
I was not always the easiest person to work for. I was very demanding and I expected my team to deliver the best quality output. Even though I was tough I was also always fair; I’d always make sure my staff got the max on their year-end compensation and would always have their back. Whoever was mean to my team would have to deal with me and that wasn’t always pleasant for the poor soul who chose to cross me.
That, amongst other things, earned me the nickname “The dragon”.
How to survive the dragon
Tip 1: The dragon will always push you (most likely because they think you can do it) and if you raise to the challenge, you will likely also rise within the corporate hierarchy; not because you are a brown noser, but because you will raise your game and you will get the recognition for that.
Tip 2: If you do not want to be part of the dragon’s mad work pace, just say so. Have an honest conversation with them, explain that you are happy where you are and that you do not have the same outlook as they do. The dragon might be a workaholic machine, but is also fair and will respect your boundaries, if you stand up for yourself.
It doesn’t matter what you do and how hard you try, it’ll never be good enough for the micromanager.
Micromanagers are obsessed with knowing everything and being kept in the loop. They believe that they know best and they have a hard time delegating because they simply do not trust their team to complete a task. As for the times that they do delegate, they interfere so much, they require constant updates on even the smallest task and might even require you to provide details of what they have worked on daily or record on spreadsheets the time spent in every task.
How to survive the micromanager:
Tip 1: the micromanager needs to feel in control and to know what’s coming next, so they can feel secure. No matter how hard you try to foresee their needs and comfort their insecurities, sooner or later the micromanager will wear you out. As a result, there is only one thing you can do to manage them: set boundaries. How? By positioning what you want in a way that sounds like it’s to their best interest. Sneaky? Not at all. It’s about positioning your argument in a way that the other person can resonate with.
Here is an example: if your micromanager boss requires daily updates on a deliverable, say something like: “I don’t think this is the best use of your time, especially as you have ‘x’ to focus on. Instead….” and provide a solution that works better for you.
The hostile boss
They’re everyone’s worst nightmare. The hostile boss will sabotage your career, discourage you, prevent you from or make it difficult for you to apply for another position or leave their team. They are rude, arrogant and obnoxious and they certainly know how to hold a grudge.
Dealing with a hostile boss is a psychological nightmare because no matter what you do, you simply don’t seem to get it right.
The hostile bosses certainly do have their favourites, but these would be the brown nosers of the office and the yes-people.
I read a psychological study recently that found that employees who assist bad bosses by going above and beyond, helping them with heavy workloads even when they're not asked, get treated less badly by those bosses.
I fundamentally disagree with this approach. We all work because we have to. If money was not an issue, I doubt many of us would turn up to the office. This though is neither a reason nor an excuse to tolerate bad behaviour from a hostile jerk and on top of that go out of your way to please them in order to avoid their menace.
How to survive the hostile boss:
Tip 1: In my books, there is only one way to deal with a hostile boss. Stand your ground and in firm (neither rude nor aggressive, but certainly firm) but no uncertain terms, tell them that you don’t appreciate being spoken to like that.
A hostile boss is a like a playground bully. They will push you around if they know they can. If you set firm and clear barriers, especially i in front of others, they will eventually get the message and will look for a new target to take out their aggression.
The idiot has not a clue what ‘s going on. Ask them a question about how something should be done and they’ll reply with an off-the-wall suggestion. But then someone higher up the food chain has a brilliant new idea and the idiot will be the one who will volunteer you to implement it. You’ll do it together with all other BAU of course, you’ll just need to “fit it in”.
These types of bosses are great at politics, which probably explains how they got to where they are. They manage upwards and they will never upset anyone by promoting the wrong agenda. They are excellent in politics but when it comes down to actual work, you can’t expect much from them.
How to survive the idiot:
Tip 1: the idiot hates one thing about all others. Looking bad in front of their bosses. So, when you get yet another project thrown at you, sit the idiot down and explain what can be done and by when; manage their expectations and the idiot will manage upwards.
A word of advice: The idiot always needs a strong number 2 to do the work they can’t do and consequently make them look great in front of their bosses. Though this is a good survival mechanism, a word of advice: 1) be careful not to pick up their slack and 2) when the idiot rises up the corporate hierarchy, they might not always pull you up with them, so you need to find ways to watch your own back.
Which horrible bosses have you worked for? What other types of horrible bosses are there?
Le me know on the comments below