A bad boss doesn't mean you have to leave your job or put up with their misery. In fact, some bad bosses can actually motivate you to achieve more than you ever imagined and mentor you to new career highs. The secret is in understanding what motivates them, how they work, and how you can make the most of their personalities.
Here we identify five bad bosses, why they act the way they do and some tips on how you can regain control and start enjoying work again.
It's Monday morning, and before you can even grab a coffee, they're checking your diary to see what you have on for the day. They review your work with a fine red pen and make sure you don't talk to other stakeholders in the business without touching base first. You have to email them when you leave and return from lunch. You feel like you work in a straitjacket as this micro-manager sucks the life out of your workday.
If this is how you feel, you aren’t alone. Micromanagement is the top complaint people have about their bosses.
While it may seem like they don't trust you, micro-managers are typically ruled by their own anxiety. The only way they know to deal with their fear is to feel in control, which is what drives them to micro-manage. If you can help them to trust you and ease their load, they are far more likely to get off your back.
The single biggest tip is to create a script of questions that will show you are pro-active, trustworthy and help them feel in control. Every workplace is different so it may take some trial and error - some examples could include; What is the deadline? Is there anything you would like me to know about how this will get used? What format works best for you? How long do you anticipate this taking? What should I do and not do on this project? Given the other tasks assigned, where should this fit in my priorities? Whom would you like me to consult with on this project?
Micro-managers often feel misunderstood, so if you can help win their trust, lessen their fear, you will become their right-hander.
You've had decisions on your project sitting with your boss for a few weeks and aren't getting any answers. The project timelines are now at risk; you're spinning your wheels and worried the lack of progress reflects poorly on you. You've followed up before, and it went nowhere so your options are to make your own decisions, continue to nag or let it slide - none of which fill you with confidence.
Procrastinators get overwhelmed and can have perfectionist tendencies, but there are ways to help them see the wood for the trees and give you what you need to get the job done.
Try and keep things simple, be a problem solver and give all the information required to make decisions in one hit. Using project or work-in-progress tools to provide regular status updates can objectively bring visibility to their lack of momentum and serve as a gentle reminder too.
You see the hair stand up on the back of their neck, the eyes roll, and you know you are going to cop it. Their anger and disappointment ooze as they start to berate you in the open plan office. Today is your day to be in the firing line, and you feel about two feet tall.
The tyrant enjoys the power that comes from being a boss and loves to remind their team that they can be replaced at any moment. This power gives them a sense of importance - as if they matter in the world and fuels their identity.
Power-hungry bosses are usually insecure in their own authority so while it may hurt your pride a little, try and position yourself as an ally rather than engaging in a power struggle. It also helps to let them do the boss-like work – so if their job is to handle demanding clients, don't try and do it for them – this makes them feel they are still the boss.
Power hungry bosses are one of the hardest to manage so if you find your confidence starting to waiver set a limit on how much more you are willing to take and plan an exit accordingly, on your terms.
The poor communicator
You're excited about the task you've just finished and share it with your boss - who lets you know that you've entirely missed the mark. Your heart sinks as you feel set-up-to-fail and still have to deal with the consequences of re-work.
Some bosses are terrible at setting expectations, and this is the biggest frustration cited by employees. Poor communication typically doesn't mean lousy intent, so as an employee, there is a lot you can do to wrap your arms around this situation and make it work for you.
The secret is to take the instruction, ask for the objectives, and if there is an example. Go away and spend a little time to write down the goal and the tasks needed in your own words, along with the people you need to engage. At this point, go back to your boss and get their feedback. This way, you can ensure you are on the same page before getting too far along.
These bosses have seemingly impossible standards, they push and push and push, and no matter what you do, it doesn't ever seem to be enough. They don't want excuses they want performance, and unless you are up there time and time again, they will be the monkey on your back.
These bosses are extremely driven, competitive and value hitting their goals above all else.
The opportunities to learn under their wing, are second to none. The push they provide will see you achieve more than you could ever imagine and propel your career forward at lightning speed.
The tip is to be aware these bosses will keep pushing so you need to manage your energy proactively, so you don't face burnout.
More often than not, your boss will have good intent and their success will be evaluated on their leadership skills – so they want to do the right thing by you. It can be easy to forget they are human too and may need a little help in giving you what you need to be set up for success.
If you can keep clear boundaries and look after yourself while you find ways to help the situation, it may turn that bad boss into one of your biggest supporters.
If you’re serious about building a team of productive, engaged employees who have the adaptability to work with bosses of all types, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and get advice from the experts in labour hire, permanent recruitment and contract staff.