What type of boss do you have and how do you manage your boss? As stated in Managing Your Boss by John Gabarro and John Kotter, when you take the time to cultivate a productive working relationship—by understanding your boss’s strengths and weaknesses, priorities, and work style—everyone wins.
Unfortunately, when it comes to bosses, one size does not fit all. There are many types of bosses in the workplace, and you don’t get to choose your preference.
In an ideal world, we would all have great bosses who will help us to succeed and make us feel valued. However, this is not usually the case. Often, we find ourselves working for bosses who are challenging to work with. Successfully managing such a boss could be a challenge in itself, but it’s often achievable.
Why do you need to manage your boss?
First, it’s crucial to understand the reason why you need to manage your boss. As suggested by John Gabarro and John Kotter, at a minimum, you need to appreciate your boss’s goals and pressures, his or her strengths and weaknesses. What are your boss’s organizational and personal objectives, and what are his or her pressures, especially those from his or her own boss and others at the same level? Once you know, it’s easy to derive a plan that will help you to manage your boss. As you implement the plan, you will boost your work life happiness. Your stress level will go down and you will feel more in control of your work and career.
When you consider that we spend most of our time at work and the central figure at work is our boss, it is understandable that whatever we do, we can’t really escape our bosses. Seven or more hours a day is a long time to work alongside a boss we don’t enjoy working with.
Although, conflict is a necessary part of the workplace, only conflicts that are well-managed can help to move a workplace forward and generate new ideas. Conflicts created by dealing with a challenging type of boss are highly counter-productive and stressful for staff.
Management styles affect employees
The research, The Impact of Organizational Factors on Psychological Needs and Their Relations with Well-Being corroborated the fact that the more negative the bosses’ management style, the less happy the workers. This is not a surprising finding. As well, when bosses were controlling rather than encouraging, employee well-being was low. On the other hand, when employees felt that their autonomy was encouraged (for example, when bosses gave a “meaningful rationale for doing the tasks” and made employees feel they were being asked to contribute rather than commanded to do something), they also had better overall well-being.
The psychological climate of the organization itself also affected participants’ happiness: The more supportive the company, the happier the employee.
A boss with a challenging management style means different things to different people. Just because you find your boss’s management style challenging doesn’t mean that everyone will struggle with the same boss. In some cases, it could be a clash of two very different personalities. However, if your boss’s style is a common complaint amongst your colleagues too, you will need to equip yourself with tips that will help you to deal with the boss.
7 Types of bosses and how to manage them
If your boss falls into any of these 7 categories below, then, explore how to best manage such a boss.
The Micromanaging Boss
The Workaholic Boss
The Backstabber Boss
The Selfish Boss
The Drama King or Queen
The Brown-nosing Boss
The Impulsive Boss
How to manage 7 types of bosses:
The Micromanaging Boss
In business management, micromanagement generally has a negative connotation. A micromanaging boss closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. He can’t trust you to do a good job without poking in his seemingly superior nose each time. This problem stems from insecurity, pressure to perform, the company culture or a number of other different reasons.
Working under a micromanaging boss can put you in an awkward position if you feel that it’s affecting your job performance and your overall well-being. A micromanaging boss will always be on the phone or at your desk explaining or showing you how to do things. He will waste your time as well as his by going into too much nitty-gritty details of everything you do.
Manage a Micromanaging Boss: To cope, ensure that you bombard a Micromanaging Boss with update details first before the details are asked for. Be sure to over-communicate and offer up regular status reports, so that he/she doesn’t approach you frequently for updates or ask you to always keep him in the loop.
2.The Workaholic Boss
He lives and breathes work without a switch off button. He is the first to come in and the last to go home. The word, ‘annual leave’ ‘break’ or ‘holidays’ are not present in his Dictionary. What is work-life balance to him? It means working through life and only coming up for air at intervals! He could stay in his office and work until the next morning if he is permitted to do so. He sends e-mails after office hours, at weekends and asks for reply immediately. He expects that you are tied to your work mobile phone at all times. Just because he works like a Jackal, he expects you to do so too.
Manage a Workaholic Boss: Always manage his expectations by sharing updates of your projects. Show that you are on track with things and that your projects are proceeding well. Communicate the next steps of your projects and the result that you are working towards. Let him know what you do as your after work obligations and inform him that they prevent you from checking work emails at home, after work and at the weekends.
3. The Backstabber Boss
Stay away from the bus as he’s able to throw you under anytime. He acts like your friend, but he will freely throw you under the bus at a drop of a hat behind your back and in front of others just to save face. He has no scruples; his moral compass is long dead.
Manage a Backstabbing Boss: Be professional at all times. Document your conversation with him by putting things in writing and checking the content with him. Always ask for feedback from him and be quick to change his perception of you or your work whenever he insinuates anything negative. Never discuss anything personal, sensitive or confidential with him.
See Are You a Bad Manager? See 8 Signs
4. The Selfish Boss
He’s all about himself! He kisses up and kicks down. It’s all about how he looks to the upper management. It’s about his own desires and progression. He doesn’t care about your own progression or your team’s. It’s all about his next promotion opportunity. He covers his back all the time and hangs you out to dry.
Manage a Selfish Boss: Force him to acknowledge you, your work and your growth. Always have a work in progress meeting with him. Ask him to commit to your learning and development. Ask him to include you in training and job shadowing opportunities. Let him know your career aspiration and ask him for his support.
5. The Drama King or Queen
He or she is like a headless chicken whenever things go wrong. He likes calling unnecessary meetings and getting overly emotional whenever things go wrong. The Drama King or Queen will tell you that the roof will come caving down. He/she likes to name and shame. With him or her, everything is a big deal.
Manage a Drama King or Queen Boss: Anticipate the boss’s drama king or queen behaviour and have an action plan ready to damp it as it rears its ugly head. Put your well clad plan into action when the boss cries wolf. Be careful with your work and don’t make mistakes. Otherwise, expect a drama of epic proportion. Get another pair of eyes to always check your work. See if you can have ad-hoc meetings with him or her to offer your assurance that you are on the right track. Let him/her be the first person to know if you have made a mistake and try and calm him/her down.
6. The Brown-nosing Boss
He relies more on his charm than skills. So, he shakes like a leaf whenever upper management is around. He nods even when he doesn’t agree and says yes to everything they say because he’s keen to always please and be in their good book. Well, he fetches anything they want and also takes them for dinner to get what he wants; he fetches coffee for them every day than he manages his team.
Manage a Brown-nosing Boss: Watch what you say around him because he’ll grass on you to gain favours. Don’t gossip with him about anyone. Aim to be in his good book too. Make it your business to know what is important to him so that you know how to meet his expectations. Agree to what he says but ask questions to make him re-think his behaviour.
7. The Impulsive Boss
He changes his mind like a mother changes her baby’s nappy. He regurgitates ideas upon ideas on impulse without thinking them through. He visits another company; he sees something there that you must implement. He sees a new system, without thinking, he wants you to buy it. He generates tons of unnecessary work and projects.
Manage an Impulsive Boss: Praise his ideas first and then ask leading open questions on costs, capacity, fit and what you he’s trying to address. You can also have a list of pros and cons for him. These will make him think of his ideas better. That is the only way to make an impulsive boss see that his ideas do not solve any problems, fit with the team or company strategy.
General tips for managing bosses
Be Professional at all times.
Be Ready for anything.
Be Proactive and take necessary actions.
Be Persistent and not relent.
See 8 Qualities That Make Great Bosses Unforgettable
Now that you’ve explored how to manage these 7 types of bosses, tell us other types of bosses that you have encountered in the past and how you’ve managed them successfully.
About the Author
Catherine Adenle is the Founder of Catherine’s Career Corner, the career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Catherine is passionate about Change Management and Career Development.
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