10 Bosses You’ll Have At Some Point In Your Life (And How To Deal With Them)
We’d like to argue that a major factor in staying at — or leaving — a job is your relationship with your boss. If your boss recognizes your good work and stands in your corner, you’re more likely to feel on solid ground than if you have a boss who drives you nuts by changing his or her mind every other day. Here are the 10 types of bosses you’ll probably have at least once in your life.
1. The Best Friend
The Situation: This boss feels more like a personal confidante and an actual friend than a real boss. He prefers to get to know you by taking you out to happy hour on your first day and buying the first round of drinks, so you know he’ll be super easy to get along with. On the other hand, he doesn’t acknowledge any professional boundaries. He may call you at 2 a.m. to gush about seeing Tina from marketing black-out drunk at the bar. This boss may not give you honest feedback because he doesn’t see you as a colleague. Even worse: if you do get feedback from him (or you give him feedback in return), you both may take it more personally because you’re not used to being so direct and formal.
The Solution: It’s not really fair, but it’s up to you to set the boundaries. Say no to happy hour invitations outside of team events, or if your boss is gearing up to talk smack about someone else in the office, respectfully say that your biggest priority is to make your boss and your company happy with your performance, and that everything else has to fall to the wayside. Your boss will likely be really impressed with you for taking the high road without feeling brushed off.
2. The MIA Boss
The Situation: She rarely checks in on you. In fact, you can count on one hand how many times you’ve seen her at all this week. This boss is seemingly always on vacation, at a conference or just working from home. The nice thing about an MIA boss is that she’s not breathing down your neck to get that project done, and instead (you assume) she trusts you to handle your own job with full autonomy. Unfortunately, since you never see her, you can’t be sure that she feels that way, or any way, about you. She’s never around to give you feedback, and you can’t get her to commit to a performance review meeting. As a result, your accomplishments may not be recognized.
The Solution: You need to document everything and be overly communicative with your boss. If applicable, CC your boss’s boss on your biggest updates and notes about your accomplishments so that someone is paying attention, or at the very least, you have your progress in writing. The key is to do anything possible to get your work and your most pressing questions in front of your boss, and if she doesn’t answer, then consult her boss. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re “snitching” on your boss for not answering — you’re literally just doing your job, and you’re doing it well. Recognition of that is the bare minimum that you deserve.
3. The Micro-Manager
The Situation: A micro-managing boss is someone who does breathe down your neck with questions, check-ins and tweaks to your work. Though you’re likely to stay on task throughout the day and actually get shit done with this type of boss, you’re also likely to feel like your boss doesn’t trust you to do your own job, especially if you can’t finish a sentence without her interrupting you. You probably feel extremely claustrophobic just sitting in an office with her, which could easily drive you nuts.
The Solution: Since this is not only a workplace attitude, but probably also a personal problem your boss has, it’s unlikely that you can change the dynamic. The best advice we’ve got is just to accept it and adapt as best as you can. Understand that your boss probably isn’t “after you” or “picking on you” — it’s just her leadership style. Chalk it up to that and keep a smile on your face as you fix everything she requests.
4. The Crazy Boss
The Situation: There’s a range of crazy behaviors your boss could be demonstrating, from being “quirky” to having full-on random meltdowns for no reason. One day, he’s super fun and schedules an impromptu mid-day happy hour just to celebrate better-than-normal numbers, and the next day he’s freaking out on you for not getting enough work done the day before. Essentially, he’s emotionally unpredictable, and he can take a toll on your mental health if working with him feels like getting motion sickness from a rollercoaster.
The Solution: Above all else, make sure you get your work done to the best of your ability before feeding into any of your boss’s behaviors, even if they’re positive. Don’t go running off to that happy hour without checking everything off your to-do list, and keep documentation of all your work and your convos with your boss. Keep your head and think as logically as possible, even through your boss’s mood swings. Above all else, if it becomes too much, leave the damn job.
5. The Traditionalist
The Situation: A traditionalist boss will always play fair and she goes by the book 100 percent of the time. You know exactly what you’re getting on a day-to-day basis, and you can rest assured that she doesn’t play favorites or do anything shady behind your team’s back. The downside? She can like you just fine, but she’ll always maintain an air of formality and professionalism, even in personal emails, so you won’t ever feel super friendly with her. You also won’t be granted any wiggle room for that extra PTO or much-needed work from home day, even if she wants to give it to you, specifically because the company policies always win.
The Solution: For the most part, you’re in a good spot, so accept that you won’t be getting any freebies that aren’t already stated in your contract. If flexibility is a must for you, then reconsider if the company is the right fit.
6. The Scary Boss
The Situation: She walks in. You shudder. She sits down at her desk. You cringe. She barks or creepily whispers her first orders of the day, and you don’t waste a spare second. The scary boss is exactly that — super terrifying, to the point where you’re always on edge. She can be fair or a total psycho, but she just has an air about her that makes you think she eats nails for breakfast. The good thing about her is that she trained you to always be on your game, and you’re proud of yourself for surviving the atmosphere she created. The bad thing is that you can’t approach her for anything, and you could be having a panic attack at your desk after sending her a single email, which is not good for your health.
The Solution: Confidence is key, so buck up and learn to do your job really well. If you’re still feeling intimidated by your boss (and you’re starting to feel like she’s scaring you just for the hell of it), find the courage to bring it up to her constructively or talk with your HR department. But a scary boss can often make someone feel like hiding in a hole, so consider moving to another department or finding another job if things get too extreme.
7. The Pushover
The Situation: A pushover boss is the guy who will not only seek out your suggestions on a project, but he’ll implement your suggestions the second you give them. Essentially, your ideas are always heard, and he makes you feel like he really cares about your happiness. On the other hand, you’re not sure if your ideas are even good, or if your boss is saying yes just to avoid upsetting you, so your personal growth may be stunted. It’s easy to take advantage of him, and he may say yes to even unprofessional requests like coming in two hours late because you’re hungover.
The Solution: If your boss is giving you more responsibility, letting your opinion be heard at every meeting and throwing you endless slack, the issue probably lies with you for taking him for granted and abusing the system. He’s not going to give you a reality check, so it’s up to you to give yourself one. What you should hold your boss accountable for is giving you constructive feedback, so ask to start having regular check-ins in which he gives you both praise and constructive criticism. If you’re not learning what you can be doing better, you’re not gaining anything valuable from your current position.
8. The Inexperienced Boss
The Situation: You may personally like your boss, but you notice that he’s asking you how to perform basic functions of his job — like he doesn’t know how to use Adobe Photoshop, but he was hired as the senior designer. You feel less pressure on the job since you both act more as peers rather than employee and boss, and because of that, you can grow and learn together. On the other hand, you could get fed up with having to step in when your boss doesn’t know how to do his job. Even if you’re also not qualified for the role, you want someone who is experienced enough to guide you and help you grow professionally, not someone who you fumble through your day-to-day tasks with.
The Solution: Because the issue lies solely in your boss’s inability to perform the duties he said he was able to at the time he was offered the position, someone higher up is gonna notice that he’s flailing. Sit back, do your job to the best of your ability and let your boss’s boss take care of it. The chances of that person not noticing your boss’s ridiculous inability to perform are slim.
9. The Indecisive Boss
The Situation: This boss hasn’t set a single standard that hasn’t already been massively changed or rescinded. This is so much more than simply redirecting the company vision — this is redirecting every single day’s missions and activities. You can persuade this boss to see your side on an issue more often than not since he hasn’t made his mind up on…well, anything. The down side? You never know where you stand on a day-to-day basis because what he wants to achieve is always changing. Even worse: you could do something that completely fits his prior standards and it’s not right in that moment.
The Solution: Do everything you can to solidify certain standards and rules, and get your boss’s approval in writing. If he continues to flip flop on you, calmly and professionally share your written proof that he approved things before, and if he acts like his prior opinions are no longer valid, seek counsel with his boss. You’ll probably feel dirty going above him, but you have written proof that he’s not a reliable leader.
10. The Great Boss
We’d bet that everyone only gets one truly great boss in their lives, and that boss is sent from the career heavens to make your professional dreams come true. He or she is an excellent communicator, you both just jive and you receive constructive criticism and praise. He or she is always in your corner, and even after one of you leaves the company, he or she is genuinely still interested in your professional progress, as well as how you are as a person. Hold onto the memories you hold with this boss, because while you’re knee-deep in a screaming match with your current boss, you’ll need to gather all the positive strength you can to get through the day. Honestly, this boss is the person you’d like to be one day, and he or she gives you hope that there are people looking out for you in the big bad world.