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8 Types of Bad Bosses — And How to Survive Them

Strategies to stay one step ahead of an inferior superior.

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Most of us have a boss (unless you work for yourself!). For the majority of us, the boss is just someone we deal with as part of the daily grind. However, some bosses stand out for all the wrong reasons. Here are the eight worst offenders; which one do you have?

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1. The Comedian

If you have ever seen an episode of either the UK or U.S. version of "The Office," you know this kind of boss all too well. This kind of boss has one driving priority — to be popular. He or she will be cracking jokes at every meeting, and will have an office filled with "wacky" gadgets and posters that put a dorm room to shame.

However, they are so focused on getting people to like them that they refuse to make tough decisions. They won't reprimand anyone for fear of losing a friendship. And they certainly won't make changes that are necessary, but unpopular. This kind of boss will lead to the downfall of his or her department.

Game plan

You know what motivates this boss, so use it to your advantage. Suggest that making certain decisions may not appear popular in the short term, but will make the boss a hero in the long term. At the very least, laugh at his or her jokes, and stay popular long enough to get a few raises and promotions before moving on to a different department, or company, that is not destined for a nose-dive.

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2. The Seagull

The seagull boss flies into the department (often from another location or division), makes a lot of noise from a great height and disrupts before quickly flying away. They don't know the real problems and strengths associated with the daily routine, and they really don't care. All they want to do is look good by making everyone else look bad. Nothing you do will ever be good enough, and even if you implement their ideas, you will be blamed when they don't work. This kind of boss reduces morale quicker than a pay cut and a canceled holiday party.

Game plan

First, don't react — at least, not negatively, and not to his or her face. They have power that you don't, and they are happy to use it against you. Let the seagull boss do what they have come to do, but take it all with a huge grain of salt. Then, when they leave, figure out as a team what you need to do to make the suggestions work, or improve the department to the standards that have been set, without annoying the boss or tanking morale even further.

3. The Ladder Climber

This boss has enough ambition for the whole department, but lacks the moral fiber of conscience to care how the promotions happen. Stepping on good employees to climb just one rung is seen as "all part of the job." They'll smile to your face and bad-mouth you behind your back. They will take credit for your work, and put their mistakes firmly on your shoulders. They want just two things — promotions and raises. And if you get in the way, you're history.

Game plan

Don't do anything to impede their success. They're the boss, so they have the upper hand. Instead, be civil, and even ask how to help them achieve their goals. Your aim is to get them promoted into a position that no longer impacts your daily life. Hopefully, they'll take a job somewhere else for more pay and a better title. If you happen to send them these opportunities, saying they are meant for greatness, even better.

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4. The Insufferable Martyr

Whatever this boss is doing, they're doing it for you. And, they work harder than anyone in the office. You think you had it rough last week? Well, just listen to their sob stories and be put in your place. 100-hour weeks. Being berated by clients and management. Rewriting proposals during their daughter's sixth birthday party. Building a time machine just to go back a week and stop a disaster from happening. OK, so maybe not that bad, but it does get ridiculous. Everyone rolls their eyes but stays quiet as this boss recounts the worst week of their life, which happens every single week.

Game plan

You really only have one way to deal with this one; go along with it. If you challenge them that they don't have it as rough as they say they do, they'll consider you to be unempathetic and against them. However, you really don't want to enable this behavior — it makes things worse. Just nod, agree that life is tough, and move on.

5. The Faker

There's an old saying; "Fake it till you make it." Sometimes, people in business fake it really well, and sadly, they're still faking it by the time they become your boss. You won't learn anything from this type of manager, other than how to bite your lip when they say something that's clearly wrong. However, they got this far, and the chances are they'll continue to do well by employing the same charm and guesswork that got them here in the first place.

If they have friends in high places, they'll take full advantage of that favoritism. If you're good at your job, they'll use you to make themselves look good. They may even ask you to do their job for them, in a roundabout kind of way. And as you wonder how they ever got this far, they'll get yet another raise and promotion. It really is infuriating.

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Game plan

It's tempting to set a trap for "the faker" to show how little knowledge they actually have. But, a word of warning: Setting them up, perhaps in a meeting, will only put you on their bad side. They have spent years, or even decades, avoiding detection by those in power. They have more excuses than you'll ever be able to combat, and they have a long memory. You do not want to get on their bad side, especially with this kind of move. At some point, they'll either move on, or make a mistake they cannot squirm out of. Keep your cool.

6. The Chicken Little

The sky is always falling for this boss. Corporate is constantly down on his or her department, and the pink slip is coming any day now. Jobs are going to be severed. Wages cut. Bonuses slashed. Everything is horrible, the department is doomed, and you should start looking for new work because it's all going wrong.

The problem with this kind of boss, other than the constant stress he or she exerts on employees, is that it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Time spent stressing and running around looking for answers becomes more important than the actual job. It gets noticed, and they eventually seal their own fate; perhaps yours as well.

Game plan

Be careful what you believe, and what you toss aside as speculation and worrying. There are always problems in every company, and news can be taken one way or another. In all likelihood, there could be some truth to the doomsday predictions, but more than likely, it's a storm in a teacup. Do your own research, and make your own conclusions.

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7. The Sleazebag

This usually applies to male bosses, but that does not mean women are excluded from exhibiting this kind of behavior. This boss is all hands and roaming eyes. They notice every time you wear something that reveals a little skin. They make suggestions that would not even belong in a locker room. And, they make your skin crawl the second they walk into the room.

You feel uncomfortable in their presence, and sometimes, you even feel afraid. This kind of boss will use his or her power to take advantage of every situation, and will often try to blackmail you into giving in to their horrid advances.

Game plan

Nip this one in the bud, and fast. Keep meticulous records of every interaction, every email, every voicemail, and anything that will support your genuine claim of harassment. Then, take it to HR. If you don't have an HR department, take it to the most senior person on the executive staff. And if that happens to be your boss … you need to leave.

8. The Mosquito

They are the back seat driver of the office. They come up behind you when you're working, and you hear them breathing in your ear. They look over your shoulder, they bug you 15–20 times a day, and they never seem to take a hint that you do not appreciate their constant irritation.

This boss is something of a micromanager, but also seems to be at a loose end for the entire working week. Why don't they have something better to do? Why are they looking at every line you write, or every job you start? Why don't they just leave you alone!?

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Game plan

First, prove to them that you know what you're doing. If they're bugging you because they don't trust you, it's time to gain that trust. If they are just the kind of person who likes to hover, have a genuine heart-to-heart. Tell them you appreciate the checking in, but you get more work done when you're left to do it yourself. But when you need their excellent advice, you will definitely ask for it.

This article is from Paul Michael of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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This article is from Wise Bread, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.