We’ve all worked for difficult bosses —here’s how to handle some of the most common, and frustrating, types. A bad manager can have a lasting impact on your career. A recent Gallup State of the American Manager report found managers are responsible for up to 70 percent of inconsistent employee engagement. Since staying plugged in is key to long-term success, we asked career experts how to “manage up” so you can stay on the right path, even when you’re not getting the mentorship or motivation you deserve.
The Queen or King Bee
There’s no room for anyone else in this “star’s” universe. “Chances are, this boss denigrates others or ignores their contributions, no matter what the person does,” says Lois A. Krause MBA, a human resources consultant at KardasLarson.
Managing this manager: First, manage your own expectations. “You probably won’t be showered with consideration from this type of boss,” says Krause. Make sure to copy all applicable team members and managers when turning in work or suggesting ideas. That way others will be aware of your contributions.
A hands-off management style can leave you looking—hoping—for guidance or feedback. “You could even miss out on having a sounding board that helps you stay on course, ” says Christina Austin, founder of ExecBrands LLC, an executive career branding and image consulting firm.
Managing this manager: Schedule meetings to update your boss or ask for advice on key items, suggests Austin. Meanwhile, Krause suggests, “Get on your boss’s calendar at the beginning of a project, when it is delegated. Then initiate your own follow-up at logical intervals to ensure you receive the support needed to complete the task.”
This boss believes he needs to have his hand in every pot. And that nothing can be accomplished if he’s not hovering above everyone. “All this micromanaging usually leads to the boss making mistakes and then assigning blame to others,” says Krause.
Managing this manager: Reframe errors or missteps. “Privately explain to him that you are unsure of the best course of action because your previous experiences involved doing X but they’ve suggested doing Y,” suggests Krause. This will usually trigger an about face and your boss switching to your suggested plan. “After time, this manager will respect you and come to trust your judgment.”
This boss will say yes to everything, even projects that are undeliverable, says Heather Monahan, a business expert and Chief Revenue Officer for Beasley Media Group, Inc. It can make the whole team look bad.
Managing this manager: Offer to help pinpoint and execute what is possible when tough requests come through. This way your boss won’t feel like a failure, and the team won’t burn out. Eventually, upper management will figure out The Pleaser has a key member of her team, and when she is reassigned or terminated, you’ve set yourself up as the logical replacement, says Monahan.