Coping With Difficult Bosses

A recent article on titled Coping With 5 Boss Personality Types discusses five major boss types that aren’t easy to deal with (hence the need to cope). For each boss trait, the author cites advice from a number of experts, including myself. In my book Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant I give a bit different “boss classification” but I do like the way major personality types are represented in the article by recognizable movie and TV characters.

For example, for dealing with the Narcissistic Boss (a.k.a. Miranda Priestly, “The Devil Wears Prada”) the article very fittingly offers my “C.A.L.M.” method (Communicate, Anticipate, Laugh, and Manage Up):

“Communicate frequently, honestly, and regularly with aggressive bosses, so you understand what’s behind all the blustering. Anticipate problems before they occur or become more stressful (don’t encourage a tantrum with bad timing, either). Laugh: A little levity goes a long way when tensions are running high. Manage up by being a role model of good behavior, using positive and negative reinforcement as you would with a child.”

The article ends with a somewhat alarming revelation: when asked to characterize their boss in terms of a TV or movie character (the villain, the hero, the comic relief, the mentor, the oddball, the heartthrob, or a bit part) 41 percent of the poll participants said that their boss was the villain.

This should be an alarm call for any CEO or HR person – to look closely at their managerial ranks and weed out what I call Terrible Office Tyrants. Having to cope with a “villain” can’t be good for productivity; the interpersonal skills offered in the article are better used for creating harmony and balance in the workplace.