Horrible bosses: five of the worst breeds to work for

Is now the time to start looking for a new job? If your boss falls into one of the following categories, possibly...

Is now the time to start looking for a new job?

michael smyth author employed and under fireYou remember that feeling in your stomach from school days but you never expected it as an adult: Sunday night, holidays over, back to work – ugh! Of course, it’s not the work that’s the problem, it’s your boss.

Bosses come in all shapes and sizes

It is a sad reality that in New Zealand there are a significant number of bosses who are simply horrible. Jim Collins in Good To Great describes the characteristics of a “Level 5 Leader”, which is summed up as someone who puts their ego to one side for the greater good of the business. These horrible bosses struggle with that…

The Playground Bully

The Playground Bully has discovered that the best way to caress their own ego is to assert their dominance over someone else and if you are the victim it can be pretty easy to lose your self esteem. I often hear victims say, “Why me?”. To answer that question you need to understand their psychology. You see, most bullies have low self-esteem but are afraid to show it. To maintain their self-esteem they need to put yours down. So by being better at the job than they are, you become a victim.

The Control Freak  

For Control Freaks no-one can do the job better than them. But as they have risen to the ranks of manager they are expected to delegate. This creates an internal conflict: “If I delegate, it will only come back wrong and then I’ll have to do the job anyway!”. The solution is to micromanage. Of course, nothing you ever do will be good enough, and if by some fluke you do come up with a great idea, they will claim it as theirs anyway. 

The Telepathic

Like the control freak, Telepathics will have very high standards, but to them how you achieve those standards should be obvious. So Telepathics don’t tell you what they want and how they want it done: instead they rely on telepathy and expect you to know. Now that’s fine if by some chance you get things right, but lo and behold if you get things wrong,  they will just think you are stupid for the rest of your working career and move you on.

The Godfather

If your employment agreement consists of a handshake, a wink and a nod then that should raise alarm bells that your boss may suffer from Godfather syndrome. Like the Mafia, bosses with the Godfather syndrome think loyalty is everything, much more than minimum statutory entitlements. While you are in the inner circle everything is fine, but question why you didn’t get paid time and a half for working on a public holiday and things are likely to deteriorate rapidly. Leave and you will always be a traitor.

The Creep 

The Creep has an overly inflated view of their own sexual magnetism and can’t understand why you don’t instantly succumb to their flirting. Personal boundaries don’t exist, and rejection just means “try harder and be more obvious”. To them resistance is futile and only makes work more of a challenge. They are a sexual harassment case waiting to happen.

So what do you do?

Faced with one of these bosses, do you simply throw the job away or do you stand up for yourself?

My book Employed But Under Fire: Strategies For Dealing With A Difficult Boss (there's a special discount for Idealog readers detailed below) answers this very question by explaining the pros and cons of each, and if you do decide to stand up for yourself, it gives practical strategies which you can employ to ensure a successful outcome.

But whatever you decide, do something, because no-one should have to feel that sickly feeling in their stomach at the thought of going to work.  

Michael Smyth is an employment law barrister and the author of Employed But Under Fire: Strategies for dealing with a difficult boss. Idealog readers get a discount when ordering the book: $25 (normally $35) for the paperback and $12 (normally $19) for the e-book. Just quote the code 'IDEALOG' to receive the discount