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Bad Bosses and How to Deal With Them

Media release

8 August 2011

Bad Bosses and How to Deal With Them

It's no wonder bad bosses often make it to the big screen: it is a scenario many workers can relate to. Research by leading finance and accounting recruiter, Robert Half, shows half (50 per cent) of New Zealand workers would look for opportunities elsewhere if they had some conflict with their manager.

The survey also found 53 per cent of New Zealand finance and accounting professionals would look for other opportunities elsewhere if a manager was not offering the opportunities they thought they deserved, while 42 percent would contemplate a move if they were not inspired by their manager. A further 34 per cent would also be attracted by a better management structure elsewhere.

These results suggest that if businesses want to hold on to top performers, ensuring managers' leadership skills are up to scratch is a good place to start.

Robert Half New Zealand general manager, Megan Alexander, explains bad bosses aren't necessarily bad people, but they can certainly make work challenging for those who report to them.

"Often people are promoted because they have impressive skills, but that doesn't mean that they are effective leaders. Friction between managers can stem from differing work styles. Professionals who adapt their approach to their supervisor's preferences may be able to build stronger working relationships."

Robert Half identifies five common types of challenging bosses and tips for working with them:

Boss type

Coping strategy

The micromanager has trouble delegating tasks. When assigning a project, this boss tells you exactly how, when and where to do it.

Trust is usually the issue here, so try to do everything in your power to build it. Don't miss deadlines, pay attention to details and keep your manager apprised of all the steps you've taken to ensure quality work.

The poor communicator provides little or no direction. Your assignments often have to be completed at the last minute or redone because goals and deadlines weren't clearly explained.

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 bully wants to do things his or her way, or no way at all. Bosses like this also tend to be gruff with others and easily frustrated.

Stand up for yourself. The next time your supervisor shoots down your proposal, for example, calmly explain your rationale. Often, this type of manager will relent when presented with a voice of reason.

The saboteur undermines the efforts of others and rarely recognises individuals for a job well done. This supervisor takes credit for employee ideas but places blame on others when projects go awry.

Make sure your contributions are more visible to others, especially senior management, so that your role isn't overlooked. Get information in writing from this person so you have a chain of communications to refer to, if needed.

The mixed bag is always a surprise. This manager's moods are typically unpredictable: He or she may confide in you one day and turn a cold shoulder the next.

Try not to take this boss's disposition personally. A calm and composed demeanour is best when dealing with this supervisor. When this person is on edge, try to limit communication unless a matter is urgent.


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