Nothing dampers a Monday morning more than a horrible boss. Keeping in mind that the label "horrible" is highly subjective, we have all worked for one at least once in our careers.
The trick to dealing with a horrible boss is first identifying who he or she is on the "Horrible Scale" and then strategically tackling the obstacle ahead of you... without getting fired. We're breaking it down for you in this week's post:
Horrible Boss #1: The Dictator
Your boss may not believe he or she is God but you couldn't imagine any different. This is the horrible boss that barks orders and doesn't seem to care about who's feelings are getting hurt or who is waving a Nazi salute in his or her back.
The best approach for a Dictator is to approach with caution. It's not going to make a difference what you think, so instead ask your boss to put this "orders" into context for you. Once your boss has an opportunity to explain what the overall goals are and what role you play, you will find working together to be much more civil.
Horrible Boss #2: The Idol
This horrible boss is well-known for his or her overly boosted ego. This boss praises himself or herself for all of your successes and radiates a toxicity that is killing your motivation.
A perfect example of this boss is in a customer service environment. You tell a customer that they can't return an item because of company policy (something you've been instructed to comply with to the last letter), but in swoops your horrible boss who says it's no big deal and he or she is happy to take care of them...
How can you handle this horrible boss? Frankly, constructive criticism is all that he or she needs. Nearly 99.9% of the time, your horrible boss doesn't realize how this affects you. Your horrible boss is simply doing what his or her policy states to do. Give a clear example of how your boss has undermined you. Your boss will likely lighten up quickly.
Horrible Boss #3: The Hands-Off Boss
There are few things worse than the Hands-Off Boss (except for Horrible Boss #7!). This is the boss that is never around when you need him or her, never follows through with his or her responsibilities, and always points fingers when someone higher up shows up.
The worst part about the Hands-Off Boss is that he or she still has the job. You work 10x as hard and have achieved so much more, and yet you still report to this horrible boss.
What can you do? The strategic approach is to approach him or her privately, ask for feedback on your performance, and request that you receive more training (whether you need it or not) to take on more responsibility. Do you see what you did here? You just gave an already Hands-Off Boss to hand off some of the authority and praise to you, and he or she didn't even notice.
Horrible Boss #4: The Secret-Keeper
Nothing damages trust more than a secret-keeper in the workplace, especially if it's your boss. Your boss always seems to know something you don't whether it's about a coworker, a new policy, or the like. You work with a very close team of people, and these secrets are really distracting.
Remember when I said the label "horrible" is completely subjective? Here's a perfect example. Back off. I'm serious. Whether you feel like you can trust the openness of your boss or not should never affect your work ethic. Your so-called horrible boss has a different set of rules as a leader and absolutely MUST keep some things confidential.
Get over yourself, and back off.
Horrible Boss #5: The Overly Ambitious Boss
I remember working for a boss that tried SO hard it made me cringe. He was short and waddled a bit like a proud penguin. Even though it was overkill, he wore a suit and tie (and cuff links...) every day. When he talked to a customer, his voice changed from the voice of authority to a baby-voice as needed and WAY too easily. He was as fake as you could get, and he had no problem stepping on everyone else's toes to be seen as "The Boss."
The Overly Ambitious Boss is never respected and often because he seems to have low standards of ethics in how he presents himself. Similar to the Hands-Off Boss, it's best to ask him for more training.
Why? This tactic will align you with someone who just wants to be respected. Your influence should get him to settle down and focus on the task of passing on his knowledge and experience.
Horrible Boss #6: The Enforcer
The Enforcer is not the same as the Dictator. The Enforcer is dedicated to his or her role in the workplace and often has to make the tough calls, but he or she at least has a heart. This so-called horrible boss is another that you need to cut some slack.
The Enforcer is the boss that you respect and obey, but then he or she turns around and fires your friend for no reason whatsoever. Maybe not. It's really none of your business, but get the facts before you pass judgment on this "horrible boss."
Horrible Boss #7: The Best Friend
We've all had this horrible boss. He or she is best friends with everyone... that is, everyone but you. You can't seem to catch a break. You try to get to know him or her, you join in conversations and laugh at his or her jokes, and you even offer to get coffee or lunch with him or her outside of work. No matter what you do, this horrible boss won't cut you any slack.
When you're feeling like this horrible boss has you targeted as scapegoat and won't give you the time of day otherwise, it's time to make a plan. The Best Friend is starting to cause some workplace drama, and it needs to be resolved.
Regardless of how he or she feels about you, the Best Friend is still your boss. Get a private moment and share your concerns in a mature way (Saying things like "You don't like me," or "It's not fair," aren't going to get you anywhere...). Identify examples of how his or her actions are affecting the team's overall performance and the overall workspace atmosphere.
Focusing less on you and more on how this horrible boss' attitude is affecting morale and performance is a solid approach that will actually show results.