Tip: Wondering what to do about a bad boss? Start by having regular one on ones with your boss. Find out how in the free one on ones course for employees.

What Causes Bad Bosses?

A challenge with managing your boss is that bad bosses come in many shapes and sizes. A bad boss could be good person doing a bad job. They could be ignorant or insecure or be struggling with their own problems. There's nothing special about bosses and they suffer the same problems as other people which means they could be anywhere on the spectrum from not socially well adjusted, through to serious mental and social un-wellness right through to undiagnosed clinical conditions. Understanding the different types of bad boss will help you solve the particular problems. What type of problems do you recognize:

What are the Types of Bad Bosses and How to manage Upwards

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BAD BOSS TYPE: The Angry Boss/ Bully Boss/ Crazy Boss/ Narcissistic Boss

We all know these people and avoid them but what happens when one is your boss? These bosses are critical (without being constructive). They use intimidation and fear to get their way. The secret is that the cause of this bad behavior is insecurity and that they don't know any other way to assert their authority. This bullying can be toxic to your health and this boss will do no favors for you or your career.

How to Manage a Bully Boss or Narcissistic Boss

Imagine that you are speaking to someone who doesn't know how to communicate well. For example you could be talking with a child, a crazy person or a non English speaker. What's happening is that they are trying to express themselves but are bad at it. Take some big deep breaths and prepare to address the situation with an unemotional mind. Ignore anything that is hurtful - that's not your fault and it's not helpful. Let it go. Instead throw all of that away and see if there is anything truthful in the message that can be used for future improvement.

Keeping narcissistic bosses informed about your achievements gives them something that they can use to promote their own department with their own manager. Keeping them informed makes them feel in control and consulted.

Prevent them from getting angry in the future by keeping them informed of your progress. Consult them regularly especially where there are decisions that they want to input on. Inform them of issues before they become problems. Meet with them regularly to understand their touch-points better. Check in with them weekly to make sure you are meeting expectations. Want to know how? Register for the free training : One on One Meetings with your Boss

BAD BOSS TYPE: Laissez Faire Boss/ Ghost Boss and Too Busy Boss

The ghost boss is the type of boss who is either playing golf or thinking about it. They believe in Management By Exception and their catchphrase is you do your job, and I'll do mine.  Ironically this is very similar to the boss who is too busy to give you the time of day because in both cases you have an absent boss.

On the face of it, the freedom sounds great but your boss is effectively absent which means they aren't helping to grow your career, correct your limiting blindspots, aren't recognizing your contribution. You'll soon feel undervalued, disconnected and unimportant. Often these bosses have expectations from you which they don't tell you about. What inevitably happens is everything seems ok, until suddenly it isn't because years of neglect finally catch up, often disastrously.

How to Manage a Laissez Faire Boss/ Ghost Boss/ Too Busy Boss

This is a great case for managing up. Because the cause of this is usually that these bosses where never trained what they are required to do as a boss. Usually these are incompetent bosses. Which means they neglect their duties which negatively affects their employees. Now you can choose to get upset with your boss or you can accept the personal responsibility to do what is right and cover for your bosses shortfall. This means maintain communications with your boss. Keep your boss informed of your contribution, check in with expectations, give your boss the opportunity to input on important decisions, align priorities etc. This is what I show you how to do in this free training One on One Meetings with your Manager.

PS it includes an email invite template to request one on one meetings with your boss

BAD BOSS TYPE: The Micromanager

On the other end of the scale we have the micromanager. The boss who gives you no authority. Who is always interrupting you and wasting your time. The boss who requires way too much oversight and detail. This is annoying because you aren't trusted to do the job the way you think it should be done. Your boss doesn't allow you to grow. This can destroy your confidence but mainly is a negative, inefficient way of working which means you'll struggle to achieve your potential. The constant demands from your boss will put pressure on your personal life too.

How to Manage a Micromanager Boss

Share your results so that you build a track record that they can trust. Communicate regularly so that they feel kept in the loop. Be sure to consult with them on decisions requiring their authority. But the trick to this is how you do this so that it doesn't drive you mad.

And how you do this is with regular dependable One on One meetings with your boss. The tip for managing your boss here is that when your manager knows they have a meeting booked with you in advance, they tend to leave you alone until the meeting. In the One on One meeting I show you how to group all of your communication into a super efficient time slot. The source of micromanagement is insecurity and a desire to control. But when you run a professional, dependable One to One meeting with your boss, then you will give your boss the confidence that you know what you are doing... You can also use the meetings to ensure that your boss knows what you are working on plus feels consulted. You can also use this meeting to set boundaries.

BAD BOSS TYPE: The Over-Friendly Boss

Best captured by the quote from “The Office” when Michael says: "Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."

On the surface a boss that wants to be friends seems like a good thing. But when their desire to be liked gets in the way of their boss duties, then you'll be the one who pays the price.

How to Manage Over-Friendly Bosses

The good news is that over friendly bosses will give you more support to grow, more exposure and more flexibility to do the job the way you like. But you will be the one who has to make sure that you are meeting expectations, that your priorities are aligned, that you stay professional and focussed. How to do this is by holding One on One meetings where you set boundaries, stay focussed on the work agenda and ensure that you tease out everything that the over-friendly boss might ignore.

BAD BOSS TYPE: The Whirlwind Boss

This is the boss who is always on the move, constantly changing their mind. Impossible to pin down. Bad at administration including forgetting what they asked you to do. They lack focus.

How to Manage Whirlwind Bosses

These bosses are difficult to stay aligned with and are bad at recognizing your achievements because they are already moving onto the next new thing. So this is why covering these topics in your One on One meetings is the best way to manage up. A regular meeting with a structured agenda provides alignment, consistency, dependability that is lacking in these managers. These 1 to 1 meetings with your boss are also the best places to ensure focus and make sure that necessary administration is taken care of.

What do you do if you have a bad boss?

People don't leave jobs... they leave bosses.

More than 1 million employees can't be wrong…

A Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss. "People leave managers not companies. In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue," Gallup wrote in its survey findings. 


Now sometimes you just get stuck with a bad boss, but the beautiful thing is that you don't just have to accept that. And no I'm not talking about what we call "firing your boss" which means quitting in a huff and changing your boss by finding a new job. Because odds are you will just replace one problem with another. The key is Managing Your Relationship With Your Boss. Wondering how to manage up and how to manage your manager?

The easy introduction to this is to have high quality One-on-Ones with your boss like I show you in this free mini-course. (The course includes best practice one on one downloads plus managing upwards tips)


Have you had any bad boss experiences? Please share your questions, comments or tips in the comments below.


The "Management Sweetspot" is where employees are productive because they find value and meaning in their work. Managing them becomes easy and company profits fly. Find your "Management Sweetspot" at WWW.BOSS.CAMP. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power.