How to Deal With the Boss From Hell – and Not Be One

The behaviour of a horrible boss can haunt you long after you have left the office. Nasty managers can suck the life out of employee morale – and have potentially disastrous consequences not only on staff turnover, but also on the organisation’s profitability.
 
And yet many C-level executives, including CFOs, senior managers and supervisors do not seem to realise that they are regarded as the "boss from hell". In the spirit of Halloween, Robert Half has put together a list of the five most common types of challenging managers.
 
Does your immediate manager fit neatly into any of the scary categories below? Do you recognise any of the horrible behaviours in yourself as a boss? Here’s how to successfully deal with these situations. 
 
The Werewolf 
This boss has trouble delegating tasks. But he or she will have no choice when the full moon rises, so the werewolf will be forced to assign a project to you at some point – and will tell you exactly how, when and where to do it.
 
Trust is usually the issue here, so try to do everything in your power to earn the werewolf’s trust. Don’t miss deadlines, pay attention to details and keep the werewolf updated on all the steps you’ve taken to ensure quality work.
 
What if you’re the werewolf? Always remember that competent finance professionals are in short supply everywhere you go in Asia. CFOs, in particular, must curb their werewolf tendencies or risk finding an empty office when they return from howling at the moon. Try less howling and be more trusting
 
The Poltergeist
This boss is the opposite of the werewolf – he or she provides little or no direction. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute, or redone because goals and deadlines weren’t clearly explained. 

 
The key to dealing with a poltergeist is to diplomatically point out that by providing more information upfront, you’ll both avoid undue stress and save time in the long run. Seek clarification when confused and arrange regular check-ins on projects.
 
If you’re the boss, how do you know that you are acting like a poltergeist? By the results shall ye know them. If your underlings are constantly late with reports and projects or always need to redo them, chances are you’re not providing sufficient direction and guidance. And if you don’t do something about it, you might have to clean up the poltergeist mess by yourself.
 
The Bogeyman 
Gruff and easily frustrated, the bogeyman wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all. Make sure you stand up for yourself when the bogeyman comes to haunt you.
 
The next time your supervisor shoots down your proposal, for example, calmly explain your rationale. Often, this type of manager will relent when presented with a voice of reason.
 
If you’re this type of boss, focus on the positive side of your gruff personality – your ability to respond to the voice of reason. If you can’t help being a bogeyman, you can at least be a reasonable one.
 
But continue trying to gradually dial down your impatience quotient. Count to 100 before you let your temper go. Who knows? Maybe next Halloween, you might need to count to just 10 before you calm down.
  

The Witch

This manager undermines the efforts of others and rarely acknowledges individuals for a job well done. This boss will take credit for employee ideas, but places blame on others when projects go awry.
 
The best way to cope with the witch is to make sure your contributions are more visible to others, especially senior management, so that your role isn’t overlooked. Get information in writing, such as in email, so you have a chain of communications to refer to, if needed.
 
If you are this witch of a boss, don’t despair. Everyone can change. The first step is to acknowledge that you need to join Witches Anonymous and pledge to reform. You may not lose your witch-y ways entirely, but you just might escape being pushed into the oven or having a farmhouse fall on you, a fate that eventually befalls every witch.
 
The Grim Reaper
This manager’s moods are typically unpredictable – he or she may confide in you one day and turn a cold shoulder the next.  
 
Try not to take this boss’ disposition personally. A calm and composed demeanour is best when dealing with the grim reaper. When this person is on edge, try to limit communication unless a matter is urgent to avoid a bone-chilling confrontation.
 
And if you’re this boss, be more self-aware. The line between quirky and schizophrenic – or manic depressive – can be a thin one. 
  
About the Author
Pallavi Anand is Director at Robert Half Hong Kong. Her team swears she is none of the above as a boss (and the picture above is not of her either). 

 

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