How to Handle the 15 Worst Types of Bosses

How to Handle the 15 Worst Types of Bosses

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Bad Boss #1: The Micromanager

They will probably say to you, day one, "I am not a micromanager." I had a boss who "wasn't a micromanager," which was weird because he emailed me and texted me all throughout the weekend, sent me one-liner emails, and nitpicked everything I did. When I asked for a sit-down for him to lay out exactly what he needed, he told me—again— 

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Bad Boss #1: The Micromanager

—"I'm not a micromanager." Okay, but you are a micromanager, so... How to Handle a Micromanager: Before writing off your boss as a micromanager, consider this. Are there things you need to learn from your boss? Are there elements of your job about which she is constantly correcting you? With 

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Bad Boss #1: The Micromanager

new management, it is easier to have a conversation in order to reduce micromanagement. Take some time to make sure you understand all the parameters of your job. You might even go so far as to create an outline of your job responsibilities, produce templates for certain projects, and set up weekly meetings over your first 90 days.

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Bad Boss #2: The Negative Leader

No matter how big or small your company is, there is likely some pending bottom line resting on their shoulders. If their team isn't performing and they are taking flack from higher-ups, you're probably going to hear about it. There are times when a boss has every right to be negative. If your team screwed up a major project (and—let's face it—we 

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Bad Boss #2: The Negative Leader

usually know when we are the guilty party) then there is naturally going to be some negative feedback. How to Handle a Negative Boss: It is extremely contagious and it takes hold inside everyone's heads. Counteracting negativity can be as easy as letting your boss know that it is unhelpful to employee morale. Your boss 

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Bad Boss #2: The Negative Leader

might be very receptive to this head's-up. Once I was told by a friend that I was skewing on the negative, and it was such a wake-up call. If your feedback isn't sticking, consider counteracting negativity with—you guessed it—positivity!

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Bad Boss #3: The "Phones It In" Boss

This is a frustrating one. I consider a good boss to be someone who has lived and learned from their own experiences. As a result, they remember what it was like to not be the boss. The boss who says one thing—only to do a completely different thing—is a puzzling animal, indeed. In addition, to add more fuel to your fire, this 

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Bad Boss #3: The "Phones It In" Boss

type of boss usually takes credit for the final product. How to Handle a "Phones It In" Boss: The best leaders are built in the trenches. They are the leaders who are involved in the everyday. In this way, they know how to delegate best, when the workload is too heavy, and when to back off a bit. Having a leader who is unwilling to do 

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Bad Boss #3: The "Phones It In" Boss

any of this—well, that is unacceptable. This is a tougher conversation to have, mostly because this type of boss is likely deeply out of touch. They might not even know you that well.

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Bad Boss #4: No Empathy Boss

Have you worked for years under a boss who doesn't even know where you live? Maybe this sounds silly, but it's important for leaders to lend a listening ear to their employees.  There are always going to be unexpected challenges in the workplace—both professionally and personally. Having a boss who doesn't know their own 

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Bad Boss #4: No Empathy Boss

team, especially in the face of adversity, is going to see inspiration replaced by burnout. What to Say to a No Empathy Boss: "I have been working at [Company] for [Period of Time]. I would love to get to know you better and to better align our goals. Do you think we could carve out time for a meeting or for a lunch at which to do so?"

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Bad Boss #5: Blame Game Boss

Remember "phones it in" boss? Chances are she is also a "blame game" boss. Under bad leadership, mistakes often happen. When these mistakes happen, coupled with the aforementioned bad leadership, guess who is not going to take the fall? That's right! The blame game boss is a leader who is quick to place a mistake on somebody's head.

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Bad Boss #5: Blame Game Boss

Everybody makes mistakes. No matter how much planning goes into certain projects, mistakes happen. When you add in a bad leadership element, the mistakes are bound to be bigger. How to Handle the Blame Game Boss: While dictatorships are always the most fun, nobody wants this kind of boss. Leadership 

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Bad Boss #5: Blame Game Boss

requires a good amount of respect, but fear-based leadership is never going to work. If you have a boss who constantly blames everyone (and everything) else, you might be able to get them to look deeper to see the real root of the problems, whatever it may be.

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Bad Boss #6: The Clone Boss

This is the boss who thinks you should be just like them. In fact, they think every member of the team could do well to be more like them. The Clone Boss might also have some self-awareness issues to focus on, but that's for another article. This is fairly common, as a "just like me" bias can play heavily in the interview process. Before you 

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Bad Boss #6: The Clone Boss

know it, you're surrounded by dozens of people who look the same, act the same, think the same—and who all come into the office equally depressed when their alma mater lost "the big game" over the weekend. How to Handle the Clone Boss: Well, their way does not need to be your way. if you are producing good, timely work, it's time to speak up to the 

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Bad Boss #6: The Clone Boss

Clone Boss. Before having this conversation, gather data where you can—especially if you're switching up "their way." Show how it's efficient, how it activates other employees who are otherwise under-looked, and how it affects the bottom line. Clone bosses tend to love that bottom line.

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Bad Boss #7: The No Respect Boss

Remember all of the bosses above? Well, if you tried having truly constructive conversations with them—only to see the same habits on repeat—you have yourself a No Respect boss. In a Harvard Business Review study, over 54% of employees claimed they get no respect from their bosses.

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Bad Boss #7: The No Respect Boss

How to Handle a No Respect Boss: You can try speaking frankly to the No Respect boss. However, your constructive criticism is likely to be ignored or explained away. In this instance, take care of yourself. The best way to combat the 100 percent No Respect Boss is by empowering yourself by learning new skills, 

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Bad Boss #7: The No Respect Boss

amplifying your existing skills, and by talking to HR about advancing your career.

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Bad Boss #8: The Jealous Boss

The jealous boss is a boss who—wait, is it your imagination or are they actually jealous of you? It’s hard to believe at first. How could your boss be jealous of you, but it’s true. This boss can seem harmless on the surface, but if they’re outwardly jealous, imagine the damage they can do. We have one word for you: stationary. If you suspect your 

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Bad Boss #8: The Jealous Boss

boss is jealous of you, your work, your talent, and any recognition you might receive, then they might also make sure that you stay stuck where you are. How to Handle a Jealous Boss: The boss and employee relationship is tricky under normal circumstances. When your boss is jealous of your work, the power dynamic has 

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Bad Boss #8: The Jealous Boss

shifted into a weird limbo spot, but your boss still *technically* has the power. Remember that. We headed to the experts at Harvard Business Review for a little advice on handling a jealous manager.

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Bad Boss #9: The Plays Favorites Boss

The further we get down the list, the close we feel to grade school. However, just like it was in kindergarten, the “shining star" or teacher’s pet thing doesn’t necessarily go away. In fact, many times, these teacher’s pet situations start in the hiring process. Affinity bias occurs when a hiring manager sees something in a candidate that feels familiar to them.

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Bad Boss #9: The Plays Favorites Boss

They make the hire because the candidate reminds them of themselves. If your boss plays favorites, take a deep breath. How to Deal With the Plays Favorites Boss: Our advice with the favorites boss is to keep your head down and continue to do your work. In fact, make sure your work is great. Create and measure your own KPIs and generally keep 

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Bad Boss #9: The Plays Favorites Boss

track of your success. If you feel you’re being passed over for opportunities, speak up. You don’t need to accuse your boss of playing favorites. Instead, consider scheduling a review. Communicate what you’ve achieved so far and work with your boss to identify areas of improvement and/or new opportunities for you.

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Bad Boss #10: The Passive-Aggressive Boss

Dealing this a passive-aggressive boss is tricky because the behavior is extremely immature. Beyond that, it feels outrageous to have to call your superior out for acting like a sixth-grader. Passive-aggressive language is usually used as a means to avoid a direct confrontation while still getting your point across. Even better? If you 

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Bad Boss #10: The Passive-Aggressive Boss

respond to your boss’s passive-aggressive comments, you’ll likely meet passive-aggressions lovely cousin, gaslighting. How to Deal with the Passive-Aggressive Boss: Passive aggression is tough to deal with precisely because it’s... juvenile. The way we see it, you have two options. The first approach is to simply ignore it. Typically, passive-

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Bad Boss #10: The Passive-Aggressive Boss

aggressive comments are a sheepish way to say something without actually saying it. If your boss makes passive-aggressive comments, take note and keep working. Sometimes their input might even be valid—even if the delivery is childish.

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Bad Boss #11: The Big Brother Boss

This kind of boss is becoming “a thing”—especially the bosses who are begrudgingly leading remote teams. The Big Brother boss is usually also a micromanager. They want to see what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, how much time you’re spending on it, and they want to know where you are. This is the type of boss who wants a doctor’s note 

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Bad Boss #11: The Big Brother Boss

when you’re out sick. This is the boss who will email you during your PTO. This is the boss who asks for your grandmother’s name when Nana passes, then Google her name to make sure there’s an obituary. How to Deal with Big Brother Boss: Before dealing with the Big Brother boss, make sure to check your employee handbook 

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Bad Boss #11: The Big Brother Boss

and contract. Some workplaces do have language in contracts that notify employees of monitoring. If you agreed to it, then you’ll want to make sure everything you do on your company computer is on the up and up. Yep, that means logging out of your Messages app.

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Bad Boss #12: The Narcissist Boss

A narcissistic boss requires you to complete a whole other job that is fully dedicated to paying attention to them. Narcissists require constant and excessive praise. In return, they give little to nothing, unless they are feeling volatile.  In that case, a narcissistic boss can be extremely competitive, entitled, and demanding. “Narcissistic” is a word used to 

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Bad Boss #12: The Narcissist Boss

describe folks who appear to be self-obsessed. However, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a lack of empathy. A sense of grandiosity, and a need for praise. How to Handle Narcissist Boss: If you’re reading this article, chances are that “playing along” with a narcissist’s 

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Bad Boss #12: The Narcissist Boss

antasy version of themself isn’t working for you anymore. However, “handling” a narcissist has more to do with your inward attention. When a narcissist is in charge, they are likely to take all the credit for success.  That can mess with your head as an employee. The first step in dealing with a narcissist is chronicling your 

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Bad Boss #12: The Narcissist Boss

achievements. In particular, make sure to share any ideas or input that you independently contributed. Even if your boss can’t see it, you can.

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Bad Boss #13: Psychopath Boss

Before we dive into the scary mind of the psychopathic boss, let’s talk about what a psychopath actually is. Psychopath is a word that has been co-opted by teens and exes to describe emotional behavior. It’s a word that has been weaponized to characterize someone who might be expressing displeasure.

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Bad Boss #13: Psychopath Boss

In reality, the actual word psychopath is used to describe someone who is callous, unemotional, and morally depraved. How to Handle Psychopath Boss: Hands off. It’s almost impossible to measure psychopathy in the workplace. However, studies have shown that more individuals

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Bad Boss #13: Psychopath Boss

with psychopathy reside in leadership, especially in C-level positions. How do they get there? Like narcissists, psychopaths have the ability to be extremely charming and charismatic. They also seem fearless and stress-free at all times. As a result, they are able to take unmitigated risks and manipulate any person who presents as a roadblock to their mission.

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Bad Boss #14: The Unwittingly Bad Boss, The People-Pleaser

What if the worst boss you've ever had is the nicest person you've ever met? The people-pleaser boss is the unwitting bad boss. At their core, people-pleasers are trying to be helpful. In that pursuit, however, they often become unfocused and lost. People pleasers are often ineffective leaders. The Office’s Michael Scott might fall into a few bad 

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Bad Boss #14: The Unwittingly Bad Boss, The People-Pleaser

What if the worst boss you've ever had is the nicest person you've ever met? The people-pleaser boss is the unwitting bad boss. At their core, people-pleasers are trying to be helpful. In that pursuit, however, they often become unfocused and lost. People pleasers are often ineffective leaders. The Office’s Michael Scott might fall into a few bad 

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Bad Boss #14: The Unwittingly Bad Boss, The People-Pleaser

boss categories, but we think that he is first and foremost, a people-pleaser. Obsessed with being liked, Scott cracked jokes that were rude and unfunny. He mismanaged his team. How to Handle People-Pleaser Boss People-pleasers are the toughest bad bosses to deal with because they really do mean well. There really are 

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Bad Boss #14: The Unwittingly Bad Boss, The People-Pleaser

huge benefits to having a people-pleaser leader, from an employee standpoint. When you’re looking for comfort or encouragement, they are perfect.

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Bad Boss #15: Sketchy Boss

Before you’re being called by a major newscaster for a quote on your recently-incarcerated boss, let’s talk about the sketchy boss. When we say “sketchy” bosses, we’re talking about bosses who seem guarded, untrustworthy, and generally slimy. These are the bosses who take secretive meetings behind closed doors. They might ask you to do 

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Bad Boss #15: Sketchy Boss

strange tasks that don’t align with your job. When you ask why you’re shredding 30 boxes of documents in a darkened room, they tell you to be a team player. How to Handle Sketchy Boss We all like to count the red flags after the fact. Our advice? Do it sooner. In fact, we think you should start looking for the red flags in your interview.

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Bad Boss #15: Sketchy Boss

Where there is smoke, there is likely fire. If you feel your workplace is engaging in Theranos-level deception, you’ll either want to leave or retain legal counsel. If the feeling is just a feeling, you don’t need to investigate. Like dealing with many bad bosses, keep your paper trail. Don’t gossip with coworkers, but keep a printed file (at 

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Bad Boss #15: Sketchy Boss

home!) of bizarre interactions and observations.

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