How To Survive The Nightmare Manager

01 July 2016 Peak Recruitment


As an employee, the words “the boss”, usually come with an awful lot of baggage. For most people, even before you have any contact with “the boss” you are likely to be walking around with preconceived ideas in your head as what to expect. This vision is bound to be structured on past experiences, but more often it is weighed down with that age-old stereotype that pre-supposes that managers are likely to be bad news

The fact is, to a certain extent, that derogatory personality profile of this all powerful ogre that whips, chains and tortures his underlings is very useful for office bonding. In any group there is a need for one individual to be ostracised to enable the rest of the group to bond well. In other words, everyone feels a common enemy and works together.

Understanding the Person

However, this is probably over-simplifying office politics and certainly does not help with dealing with one-to-one employee-manager relationships. Especially if the ideas about him/her are, in reality, all a bit of an illusion.

First of all, it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking of your manager as a one dimensional being. Quite clearly, and more than likely if you squint, you will find he/she is in fact a human being. You know the type, a mortgage, family, loves going out on Friday nights, hates Monday mornings…well… probably just like you. The only difference is they have power and control over you and for us minions that is usually something we both despise and envy at the same time.

But by understanding our managers and bosses as people a little more and exploring a little further than office gossip, we are likely to find they have a certain pattern of working determined by their characters. Once we understand how they work we have a much better chance of having at least an even chance in getting the upper hand now and again or at least getting an even break. Here are 4 great examples of difficult bosses and solutions.

The Control Freak

The main problem with this kind of manager is they are not really interested in allowing you to grow in your own career within the company – they just want the job to be done to their perfectionist standards. They need to control every aspect of the job even though you are doing it and for that reason it is unlikely you will be allowed to make decisions and you will not be allowed to complete tasks without some form of supervision.


  • This type of manager will tend to withhold information so you have to keep on returning to them to further the project. When given a task try to visualise hurdles from the outset and ask as many questions as you can to avoid repetitively engaging the boss

  • This type of manager needs constant information updates so use a bit of reverse psychology here by perpetually interrupting him/her to keep them in the loop. Build this into your daily tasks – at least this way you are more in control of engagements and interruptions. In return they may just give you a little more slack.

  • You need to gain the confidence and trust of this person so let them know that you will be building progress communications into daily events into the task.

The Autocrat

This manager has one primary goal – his own. Corporate, company and employee needs are at best secondary. As he believes that his competence and skills are above anyone else’s in the company he is unlikely to give you credit or admit he has made a mistake.


  • You need to understand what your boss’s prime objective is. For instance, if his goal is for promotion you need to openly show you are doing things which will move him in that direction. This may sound a bit like “cosying up” but at the end of the day they are not going to change – accept who they are and turn it to your best advantage to make the journey easier.

  • This approach is bound to raise his opinion of you in his eyes – even if he never says it. The likelihood is an enhanced status within the team.

The “Best Pal” Manager

Initially you will be bowled over by this type of manager because it will seem as if he wants to be your best friend. But be careful – often in reality the opposite is true. Even though they give you lots of lovely credit and listen to your needs, behind closed doors where business needs come first they are likely to let you fall from a great height if things get sticky.


  • This type of person is usually fundamentally a soft person in a tough role. You have to be tough with people in management and this sort of person often finds being openly assertive, difficult. Let them know you want them to be honest with you about how you’re doing as this will help you build on mistakes made.

  • If you have built a good relationship with your boss challenge the relentless praises or vacuous statements every now and again.

The Cost Conscious Boss

Every successful manger needs to keep a close eye on the budgets but when that management affects even the tiniest spend you make while at work you know you have a problem

  • As with all the examples I have mentioned here, the key is understanding and accepting the boss as they are. They are not going to change and you need to work to their rules to make for a happier work environment. So start saving money and let your boss know. You could come up smelling of roses.

Having said all this and returning to our original theme. These are the bosses you have to go out of your way to try to work with – in most cases play the game. But it is good that in most cases bosses have an investment in making the working environment good for their employees. Looking after their team is a necessary part of their work. Some of them do it all of the time, some of them, unfortunately, don’t. If you can use the above tools to play the game you can at the very least make work itself a little easier.

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