Hell no more: Surviving scary bosses

By Robert Half on 26 October 2014

It need not take Halloween to see these characters out and about. They may be lurking in your office and you might even be reporting to one now.

We are surrounded by Halloween boss archetypes who might turn into a “werewolf” or a “bogeyman” even before the sun sets.

Fret not. It need not all be doom and gloom if you are armed with these tips on how to deal with them.

The Werewolf is a lone ranger and prefers to work solo. Forget about the prospect of robust brainstorming sessions. He is unlikely to be a team player and you will be very much left to your own devices, most of the time.

How do you manage?

Try to work around this boss’ style of managing people. Maintain clear and concise email communications if he prefers not to interact in person. Schedule meetings at his convenience with a detailed agenda to maximise face time.

The Poltergeist creates a lot of unnecessary noise in the office to get attention but provides little or no direction for the team. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute or you have to redo your work because goals and deadlines weren’t clearly explained at the start.

How do you manage?

The key to dealing with this manager is to diplomatically point out that by providing more information upfront, you’ll both avoid undue stress and save time in the long run. Seek clarification when confused and arrange regular check-ins on projects.

The Bogeyman uses scare tactics to intimidate others to get things done. He or she is usually insecure and employs fear to keep their team members in check. It’s their way, or no way at all.

How do you manage?

Don’t miss deadlines, pay attention to the small details and keep this boss updated of all the steps in your projects. Clarify when in doubt and be sure to stand up for yourself calmly if your boss crosses the line unfairly.

The Zombie is usually lost in a world of his or her own, with no clue of what’s going on. He or she is spaced out at meetings and has nothing of value to contribute. When things get rough however, he or she is likely to drag you down with them.

How do you manage?

The best way to cope with this type of boss is to make sure your contributions are more visible to others, especially with the senior management. Clarify and get information in writing, so you have a chain of communications to refer to, if needed.

The Grim Reaper is a walking image of darkness. He or she wears a negative expression and somehow manages to flag up the bad in every single project. The dark mood is contagious and unsurprisingly, they are always the first bearer of any bad news.

How do you manage?

Try not to take this manager’s disposition personally. Keep interactions with him or her factual and professional. When this person is on edge, try to limit communication unless the matter is truly urgent.

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