The 5 Types of Bad Bosses and How to Handle Them


Have you ever worked for a horrible boss?

If so, you’re not alone. Google “I hate my boss” and you’ll stumble upon more than 13 million results.  Nearly half of the employees that participated in a survey published by staffing services firm OfficeTeam said that they have worked for an unreasonable manager. Of those, 59% made the decision to stay in their jobs and either address the situation or just accept it.

According to a study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 77% of employees experience physical symptoms from stress, including heart problems. Unfortunately, the stress caused by a bad boss doesn’t go away once you leave the office, according to a survey by Lynn Taylor, the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT),  employees spend about 6 hours of their weekends worrying about what their boss says or does on top of the 13 hours they already spend worrying during the work week.

OfficeTeam identified five main types of horrible bosses, they include:

1. The Micromanager – We’ve probably all seen someone like this. They have trouble delegating tasks and when they do, they spend all of their time looking over your shoulder to make sure that you’re doing it right. This type of boss doesn’t allow you to contribute your own ideas or to reach your full potential.

How to Deal – For the micromanager, trust is usually the issue. Your best bet is to work hard to win their trust. Always come in on time, never miss a deadline and always keep them copied on emails and in the loop about whatever it is you’re doing. That way, they never have to worry about you and over time, they’ll come to see that you’re a capable employee.

2. The Poor Communicator – Unlike the Micromanager, this boss is notorious for providing little to no direction. They just want you to get it done and get it done fast. Unfortunately, they don’t take the time to explain to you what they want. This can be extremely frustrating for employees who want to do a great job.

How to Deal – The best way to cope with a boss that is a poor communicator is to ask lots of questions up front. Don’t make any assumptions about what they want, just make a list of questions that need to be addressed and let them know that you need to know what their expectations are in order for you to meet them.

3. The Bully – If your boss is a bully, it’s their way or the highway. They often use a threatening tone and intimidation techniques in order to get their way and don’t mind belittling you in front of other employees.

How to Deal – Stand up for yourself, make your voice heard and put your foot down when necessary. Bosses who are bullies will usually respect you if you lay down the law because you’re speaking their language. Make your arguments in a respectful way and most will listen when you present yourself as a voice of reason.

4. The Saboteur – This kind of boss undermines the efforts of others and likes to play the blame game. If something goes wrong, it’s everyone else’s fault, but when something goes right, they are more than happy to take the credit for it.

How to Deal – Don’t be afraid to make your contributions known to others, including your peers and senior level executives. Also, try to get things in writing from your boss so that you have a trail of evidence to present should they attempt to blame a mistake on you when you weren’t at fault.

5. The Mixed Bag – This type of boss is unpredictable. They sing your praises one day and demote you the next. They can be your best ally or your worst enemy depending on the day of the week. They’re also known for having terrible mood swings.

How to Deal – Develop a thick skin. Try not to take this boss’ attitude personally; most likely, they treat everyone the same way. When they are having a bad day, steer clear of them if possible and limit your communications to urgent matters only.


Like most things in life, you can’t control someone else’s actions; you can only control your responses to them.

Oftentimes, your boss is acting out because of problems and insecurities that they may be experiencing. Maybe their supervisor is putting pressure on them to meet their goals. Maybe they have an unhappy home life. You never really know what other people are going through. Although we all have our problems and may manage not to take them out on other people, try to have a little compassion for those that do.

When all else fails, you can always be straight up with your boss, politely let them know what’s bothering you and let the chips fall where they may. You’ll often find that their reaction isn’t that bad and they just may make an effort to change for the better.