The 8 Types of Difficult Bosses (And how to deal with them!)

Difficult bosses are the worst!

This is a post I’ve started and stopped many times, because I was concerned about rocking the boat. Here it is, the different types of difficult bosses and how to deal with them (Which sometimes includes leaving your job!) I’m very lucky to have a fantastic boss now, but I wasn’t always so lucky. (And neither were the people who helped me compile this list!) Having a stressful work situation is awful, because we spend a huge chunk of our time in the workplace. Also, when someone does something that jeopardizes our livelihood, it feel personal. It is seriously the worst!

I’m not writing these to be mean to anyone, they are simply for informational purposes to help others. And this was a very cathartic experience for me. Here we go!


The Pedestal Smasher

Your boss gives you praise, that seems undeserved. You do your job, but you aren’t sure it warrants all of the adoration you are awarded. But who can complain about being adored? And then suddenly, they push you off the pedestal and take a sledge hammer to it. This may be due to you making a mistake, or possibly just because they decided they don’t like you anymore. This can be confusing, stressful, and downright scary.

Solution: Talk to your boss about what went wrong. It is quite possible that it was a misunderstanding, and this could be repairable. Keep in mind that this behavior is characteristic of a borderline personality and if you talk and things do not get better, do what you need to for you (including finding a new job).

The Scapegoat Creator

Everything is always your fault. If anything goes wrong, it must have automatically been due to something you did. You will find yourself making more mistakes, because everyone is breathing down your neck. Almost everyone does worse under this type of pressure! Anything you complete, no matter how perfect it is, is never good enough.

Solution: Define your job expectations. Determine what is being asked of you. Arrange a time to discuss how you can improve your job performance. By discussing your actual work performance, you can discover what you can improve, and hopefully improve your relationship with your boss. This will in turn improve how they view you and the way they treat you. Do what you need to for you!

The Bully

This boss is downright mean, and sometimes even abusive. As a result, you feel unsafe, scared, and depressed and anxious about anything work related. They may have even recruited other people in your workplace to bully and mistreat you as well.

Solution: Try to talk it out, attempt to come to an arrangement, but if all else fails, find another job. Life is too short to work for a bully.

The Bully Enabler

This boss isn’t actually mean, they just allow someone else to be mean. The bully was either given authority, or simply took it. This boss is either apathetic, clueless, or lacks the courage to stand up to the bully. It’s hard to say which one of these reasons is worse, and it could be for more than one of those reasons.

Solution: Bring this to the attention of your boss. It is quite possible that they weren’t aware of the behavior. Attempt to arrange some mediation, with your boss or HR present, but if you need to, get the heck out of there!

The Disorganized

This boss neglects to plan ahead, and you find yourself being asked to do rush jobs and last minute tasks, or needing to work long hours to accommodate their lack of organization. It’s exhausting! And avoidable.

Solution: Define job expectations. If you can anticipate what you will be asked to do in the future, you can save yourself a lot of headache. Let’s say there is a monthly presentation, find out what you need to do to prepare. Maybe there is an upcoming audit, ask what you can do to get the paperwork ready. By taking initiative, you are asking your boss to look ahead and become more organized, which is turn will alleviate a good portion of your stress.

The Lassiez-Faire

This boss doesn’t care at all what you do. They are burnt out on their job, they are lackadaisical, they are apathetic. It can be confusing, and when employee evaluations come up you are unsure as to what you will be evaluated on because you don’t understand what is expected of you. While it sounds nice in theory, it is very unsettling.

Solution: Again, define your job expectations. Sit down with your boss and have a discussion. This could be an opportunity to take on some new projects, and implement some new ideas. Some very exciting opportunities await you in this situation.

The Avoider

This boss is even worse than the lassiez-faire. They simply won’t answer your questions. Even worse, they may even get frustrated with you for not knowing the answers, even when you attempted to gather information before.

Solution: Do your best to contact them through various mediums, (phone, email, face to face, handwritten notes, instant messaging if your company has it) some people are more successful with certain types of communication. Go to someone else if you simply can’t get a hold of them. As a last resort, talk directly to your boss’s supervisor, and they can give you some clarity.

The Upside-down

This boss’s priorities are upside down and topsy-turvy. The way they choose to spend company money and company time is very odd and inefficient. It actually undermines the processes of the business. An example of this is that money is spent on non-visible unimportant items, and very little money is spent on items that attract new customers. Their processes are confusing and strange.

Solution: Truly, it’s not your business, so it is not your call. Do feel free to discuss your ideas with your employer if they have an open door policy and they are approachable. It could be possible that
their processes are in line with the mission or vision that they have for the company. However, if the difference in priorities is moral and non-negotiable, consider changing your employment.

The Friend-Pretender

This type of boss is friendly at first, and and you are able to have open and honest discussions. You feel that you have found a friend in the workplace. Suddenly, everything you have shared is used against you and you are completely betrayed. You feel foolish for sharing with them, and they may even use gas-lighting to make you feel like you are the one who is crazy.

Solution: If it is at all possible to rectify the situation, by all means have a professional open discussion. However, this type of difficult boss is also indicative of borderline personality disorder, so be aware of that. And if you choose to continue with employment under this boss, keep them at arms length.

All in all, respect yourself enough to do what you need to for you. Healthy people leave bad situations when they are non-reparable, and when they are damaging to their quality of life. Life is far too short to be miserable in a job. What have your experiences been with working with difficult bosses? Let me know, I love to hear from readers!

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