How to deal with these terrible types of manager

A lot of us have maybe seen Horrible Bosses or either version of The Office and thought to ourselves how lucky we are that we don’t have a manager like that. Unfortunately, some of us may have seen a similarity or two in our own managers – and this isn’t good. If you have a bad manager, going to work is just that bit more difficult. Production levels can drastically drop and your motivation to work just stops. You start dreading going into the office or being left alone with your manager in a meeting. There are of course loads of different types of manager, and here are a few and how you can deal with them.


The lazy manager

Nobody likes a lazy colleague, so why should having a lazy manager be any different? Lazy managers fail to meet deadlines (and have poor excuses up their sleeves), are full of false promises and don’t follow through with what they say they’re going to do. You may feel unnoticed, forgotten or just frustrated with their lack of motivation.

Why are they like this?

Managers are lazy for various reasons. It could be that they have completely lost motivation in their job due to a lost promotion or feeling like they are at the end of the line in their careers and see no light at the end of the tunnel. Or, it could be that the work they need to do is out of their depth and they don’t know how to tackle it. Unfortunately this is being projected onto you (maybe without them even knowing it) and it’s making you feel rubbish.

What do I do?

The best thing to do when dealing with lazy managers is to try and be as helpful as possible. Not to the point where you end up doing their job, but to make the point that if they need some help, that’s what their staff are there to do. If possible, see if you can address the issue directly with your manager and mention that you’re feeling perhaps a little overworked or make them aware that you’re not sure what’s going on within the department (most likely due to their lack of communication). If still nothing works, it could be worth going to senior management about the issue. Be careful with this, because you don’t want to be seen to be undermining your manager without good reason. It’ll just look as if you’re blaming any of your failures on them.

The micromanager

Micromanagers think they’re being great managers by helping out their staff with their jobs and being really hands-on. However, this isn’t the case. All micromanagers do is undermine the knowledge and talent of their staff.

Why are they like this?

Micromanagers don’t know how to offload work onto their staff, sometimes because they’re a bit uptight or really picky about how the work turns out. They might be difficult to get trust from them because they’re possibly insecure about how your work reflects on them.

What do I do?

Trust is the main key to dealing with a micromanager. You need them to understand that you can do the work yourself and that they don’t need to get involved as much as they are. Make them aware that you know what you’re doing by producing good work. Simply telling them that you understand what’s expected of you may just cause tension.  A way to build trust is to have fantastic communication with your micromanager. Have a small meeting with them every morning outlining everything you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. This might seem tedious but eventually as you prove yourself these meetings will happen less and less often.

The manager who’s your best friend

Sometimes managers think that if they’re best friends with their staff then they can ensure good communication and results. The only problem is, they’re so eager to be your friend and make you happy that they have almost no authority or credibility.

Why are they like this?

It could be because they recently got promoted and they don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes while they climb the career ladder. Perhaps they feel bad that they got a promotion over someone else who may have deserved it more. Either way, they haven’t learned how to be a good manager yet. If they’ve been in management for a while, they may have seen the buddy technique be quite successful in the past.

What do I do?

Sometimes it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right? Nobody wants a mean manager. If you highlight that your manager is too friendly they might panic and just become the exact opposite of what they were. Try asking for some more critical feedback in a one to one and continue to clarify deadlines so nothing gets missed. Don’t forget to retain the friendship side where you can, as this can be useful.

The negative, mean manager

So your manager isn’t trying to be your best friend at all. In fact, they’re totally the opposite of the above. They occasionally make digs at you in front of other people to assert dominance or bring you down. Perhaps they’re unprofessional and treat the work space as a children’s playground. They may be in a clique with other members of your team and leave you out of meetings and important emails. It can feel horrible and extends to workplace bullying territory.

Why are they like this?

Managers are mean for no reason other than their own insecurity and immaturity. Perhaps they feel threatened by your quality of work and feel like their job is at risk the more you progress. It’s not a desirable quality, and if they’re aware of their own behaviour then they’re too ashamed to address it – so it’ll continue until something changes.

What can I do?

It’s difficult to deal with a mean manager, especially when you haven’t been in the job that long and don’t want to come across as a disruptive employee. Is your manager like this with anyone else you work with? How do they respond? If they feel the same way you do but haven’t done anything, then band together to address the issue. It may be a case of going to HR and seeing what can be done. You also need to make a journal or diary of any unprofessional incidents your manager makes. You don’t want your argument to be that you just ‘feel like they’re being nasty’. It won’t work. If you have some evidence to back up your claims, then something can be done to address the problem. Also, you must never let the volatile environment influence the quality of your work. If your work goes downhill, only you will be blamed and your manager will just have more excuses to be nasty.

The oblivious manager

Oblivious managers have a tendency to be completely unaware of everything, from your progress through to your day to day duties as their staff member. As a result, you end up feeling forgotten and unimportant in your role with unclear guidelines about what it is you need to achieve.

Why are they like this?

Naturally, oblivious managers don’t know what they’re oblivious to – unless they’re blatantly ignoring you. It could be that they’re out of their depth and they’re burying their head in the sand, hoping you’ll figure things out yourself. Or, they’re just outright terrible communicators who have no management skills.

What can I do?

Oblivious managers need to have the message given to them loud and clear. Set up frequent one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss your work and your progress. Ask them for targets and guidelines without mincing your words, and make sure that you’re both on the same page and that you have everything you need in writing. That means later on if your manager has no idea what you’re referring to from a previous important meeting; you’ve got evidence of their acknowledgement of said meeting.

Managers can vary their techniques from staff member to staff member, so don’t panic if they’re managing you in a different way to everyone else. Good managers recognise that everyone is different – so if they’re constantly emailing you with tasks, it could be because they feel you need some extra support. If they’re doing the opposite, it could be because they think you can manage yourself pretty well without them interfering. The most important rule in dealing with any manager is to have regular communication with a window for feedback (such as one-to-one meetings). Leading up to that meeting, make a list of everything you want to talk about, so you don’t forget anything.

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