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DURING a typical working career, statistics show you’re likely to change workplaces a fair number of times. Unlike our parents and grandparents, it’s almost certain you won’t stay with one employer over the duration of your working life.
You’ll encounter many different bosses, and along the way it’s important to be able to identify the personality types you are working with, and be able to deal with ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’.
Having a terrible boss is now so common that they make movies and sequels about it.
There are as many types of bosses as there are different personalities, but here are some common stereotypes you may encounter, and the best ways to respond:
The Friend or Pushover
This type of boss wants everyone to like them and to be their friend. They can’t make decisions, which may displease you, as it may jeopardise your friendship.
They say yes to everything to keep the peace and have no control over the workplace. As you watch how they operate you’ll end up having no respect for them. Their decisions will not aid in your success or achieve the overall goals of the organisation.
It’s important not to take on these characteristics yourself. Ensure you keep a strong work ethic and perform your work effectively, as these work habits will assist you in future employment. Ask yourself ’Is it important that your boss is your friend outside the workplace?’
This boss has definitely not heard of work/life balance. They don’t take their annual leave, work late every day and never have a lunch break. It’s possible that they are not carrying out their work efficiently, are driven by ambition or don’t have a reason to go home.
Reporting to a workaholic shouldn’t be too big a problem for you, but don’t feel you have to work the same hours or adopt the same work practices. Occasional overtime is okay, but make sure you carry out your work within your stated work hours.
The missing in action boss will be either in the office with the door shut, in a meeting or travelling for work in another part of the state or country. This makes it difficult for you, as you are left with no support or guidance. This will be a test for you to work independently and use your initiative.
If you are lucky, you may be able to turn to others to show you how to carry out tasks, but you must endeavour to keep in touch with your boss. Ensure they pass on what they want achieved for the week (or month) before they leave and use email to stay in touch with them.
Make sure you don’t contact them for minor issues, but equally don’t make decisions above your pay grade.
Like a helicopter parent, this manager will consistently hover around you trying to closely observe and monitor your work. They may come from a level of perfectionism and insecurity.
You can help this situation by making sure you know what’s expected of you, including any deadlines. Propose a short meeting first thing daily to give status reports on the work before they are requested. Use reporting tools such as project plans, timetables and schedules which can be provided to show progress.
This type of boss is easy to identify. They use intimidation, demean and sometimes isolate you from your colleagues. They may set you up for failure by issuing unachievable deadlines. A bully wants power and control and uses these methods to try and achieve it.
Repetitive verbal abuse, exploitation, micro-management and other activities that repeatedly degrade you will eventually take a toll on you.
Firstly, become familiar with your workplace bullying and harassment policy. This policy will state what is classified as bullying or harassment; the process you should take when you find yourself in this situation and will include firstly reporting this to your supervisor/manager as soon as possible.
Contact the Australia Human Rights Commission for advice, as this behaviour is very serious and unlawful.
The Ideal Boss
This boss listens, treats employees fairly, motivates others, is appreciative of everyone’s efforts and shows it. They want you and your other colleagues to be successful and realise there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.
They lead by example, set goals collaboratively and take you on the journey with them.
Ultimately the ideal boss knows they cannot achieve success without the help and support of others. Remember you may not agree with all their decisions, but they make them from a position of what’s best for the organisation and the employees.
If you have this type of boss, you owe it to them to always do your best work.
It’s important to realise not everyone has the capacity to be an effective leader and people come to the table with different motivations. If the situation is manageable, remember people move on, and they (or you) won’t be in that role forever.
If you don’t think your work situation can be improved, consider moving on to another position in a different department or organisation.
Remember what you like and don’t like about a boss, what works and doesn’t, and take this knowledge with you on your journey to becoming an effective leader yourself.