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5 Characteristics of the Bosses We Love to Hate

In a perfect world, the office environment would be perfect every day. Employees would get along famously. Everyone would be recognized for their achievements and continually developed to their utmost abilities. Projects would be equally delegated, and work would always be productive. Customers would always be happy. Sound too good to be true? It is! One of the most common complaints employees have is with their boss.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some phenomenal leaders out there, that put their heart and soul into developing their team members. Many of us owe our career success to those bosses that truly made a difference in our lives. But then there are the bosses we love to hate: those that have created the stereotypes we all like to talk about. What constitutes a bad boss, and how can we overcome their reign?

Let’s find out more.

1. The Micromanager

The Micromanager tops the list of most common complaints about managers, though for many, this would be the least of their concerns! The micromanager usually is a hard worker, but has a difficult time relinquishing control of duties. He or she intervenes in daily activities, which often disrupts normal workflow and ruins personal growth. A subordinate has a difficult time claiming a task or decision as his or her own when a micromanager is around, which can create confidence issues.

How to Deal with Micromanaging Bosses

  • Make an effort to be extremely organized, and outline each employee’s responsibilities before a project begins
  • Provide your boss with your expected assignments or materials before they are requested
  • Gain their trust by performing above and beyond their expectations

2. The Scattered Boss

The scattered boss is also another example of a hard worker, but the disorganization and constant change of direction is detrimental to anyone that is trying to follow his or her lead. The scattered boss may have great ideas, but they are never executed, causing inefficient use of time and loss of focus for the team. Since this person is running at light speed, decisions are hasty and not well-planned. Attention to detail is obviously lacking, so projects often have to be repeated, or scrapped altogether.

How to Deal with a Scattered Boss

  • Ask your boss to prioritize tasks that he or she needs accomplished on a daily or weekly basis
  • Send updates of your plan to ensure that you and your boss are on the same page
  • Provide realistic timelines for some of the tasks you are being assigned and politely ask if you can attach them to a long-term goal for your own personal goal sheet

3. The Blamer

This boss does NOT play well in the sandbox, and when the going gets tough, he or she is the first to point fingers! Worse yet, this type of boss is often guilty of taking credit for the successes of the team. Employees often feel that the blamer is competing with them, and the blamer often feels threatened by his or her employees, so the end result leads to lack of training and guidance for those that are hired.

How to Deal with a Blamer

  • Propose a series of team goals, as well as individual goals, and follow them up with constant communication among all team members
  • Confirm project expectations for all involved in writing, and check off tasks as they are completed (and by whom)
  • Encourage collaboration in a neutral environment to show that others are not a threat


4. The Dictator

The dictator leads by using fear and actually believes that it is an effective way to manage! This person is stubborn and inflexible, feeling that their way is the only way to complete a task. They spread negativity across an organization, and their resistance to innovation demoralizes their staff. Furthermore, this person is often condescending, uncaring, and quick to argue.

How to Deal with a Dictator

  • Do not give this person a chance to make a scene – discuss issues behind closed doors
  • Be prepared with all of your material when you need to meet, and do so in a compassionate manner
  • Guide your conversation with directed questions; do not allow him or her to control or threaten

5. The Drama Queen (or King)

The drama queen or king is emotionally unstable, to put it mildly. Their world is filled with “problems” that they tend to blow out of proportion. Employees do not know how to gauge this boss. He or she is can be enthusiastic one day, and crumbling to pieces the next. These are often attention-seeking techniques, orchestrated to gain the sympathy of those around the drama queen. This boss is either indecisive or makes quick, impulsive decisions, losing the respect of colleagues with this self-destructive behavior.

  • Ignore the attention-seeking antics and keep all conversations strictly business
  • Ask for specific directions and clarify all tasks in writing
  • Keep the relationship positive by delivering beyond this boss’ expectations
  • Worry about your job; it is NOT your job to feel sorry for this person

Hopefully you will not have to run into one of these characters in the course of your career, but chances are, you will. Having a sound, well-strategized plan of attack will help you to stay out of harm’s way in the office, and have productive conversations with your supervisors. Utilize these experiences as learning experiences to assist you in refining your communication (and diplomacy) skills.

What characteristics have I missed? What category does the “Boss You Love to Hate” fall into? I would love to hear from you!

For more resources on toxic managers, please check out the following books:

Toxic Boss Blues, by Steve Neal

The Allure of Toxic Leaders:  Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians – And How We Can Survive Them, by Oxford Press

Bosses Who Kill:  6 Toxic Leadership Behaviors, by Kimbretta Klay



by Natalie Lemons
Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, and The Resilient Recruiter and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog.  Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.