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Have you ever had a good job but still wondered how to deal with a difficult boss?

You may have already landed the job of your dreams: you’re paid well, you really love the work, and it’s a good step for you strategically in your career.

But what about that not-so-nice boss around the corner, who seems to want to bug you about your projects at every turn?

Read on to learn more about how to stay sane when dealing with those problematic bosses.

What motivates employees?

What do we need to stay happy? According to Gallup, 75% of people quit because of their managers.

If a horrible boss is enough for an employee to jump ship, how can you make sure that you’re not losing good people to bad bosses?

It starts with identifying the personality traits of bad managers.

Here are the top five most problematic types of bosses:

1. Micromanagers

If you are wondering how to deal with a difficult boss, you’ve probably already encountered the micromanager.

Effective delegation is an integral skill for any boss, but these kinds of people can’t help but excessively supervise their employees.

The micromanager seems very busy, yet still manages to notice everything you do. They refuse to let go of the reins, no matter what the situation, or project.

Rather than merely assign a task and tell them when it needs to be accomplished, they monitor the employee’s every move. They’re also quick to offer criticism and dictate that the employee does things their way.

How to deal with a difficult boss2. Ghost Bosses

Ghosts are the opposite of micromanagers — they’re not accessible because they’re rarely around.

In fact, they tend to be so hands-off that they delegate and empower employees to the point where they no longer hold themselves accountable.

Having an absentee boss means employees never know what is expected of them because of their managers neither coach nor offer valuable feedback.

So if you’re in the process of learning how to deal with a difficult boss, this is a key trait to take note of.

3. Workaholics

Workaholic bosses do not seek the ever-elusive work-life balance; they are driven by a “live to work” mentality.

While it may seem impressive, this type of approach can be damaging to anyone physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Not only does the title of “Workaholic” fill their plates, but they also expect their people to emulate them.

This might mean things like skipping lunch, sacrificing weekends, and working ridiculous hours — don’t go there!

For more on this topic, read Quiet Leaders, Chaotic Consequences.

4. The Conflict-Avoidant Type

If you’re wondering how to deal with a difficult boss, it may or may not come as a surprise that the ones who don’t engage can be the worst kinds of bosses.

The pushover lets employees walk all over them while avoiding confrontation. While this may seem ideal for some people, a manager that doesn’t have control of their own business decisions is doomed to fail.

Pushover bosses are often insecure, so they gravitate towards employees who validate them in some way.

This demonstration of favoritism can be destructive for a team, jeopardizing productivity and morale.

How to deal with a difficult boss5. Narcissistic Types

Bosses with narcissistic personalities are quite common since they are consistently pushing to stay in control of everything.

To some extent, having someone who wants to keep tabs on everything can be positive. But a narcissistic boss also destroys morale.

Narcissists, in general, are unable to take criticism and are blind to their flaws. They yearn to be admired but are also extremely sensitive.

And while this type of leader craves empathy from others, they are not really empathetic themselves. In addition, they tend to be highly competitive, and it’s this obsessive pursuit of victory that can destroy teams.

Prevent Turnover & Keep Your Best Employees

Does your organization have a high turnover rate? Are you losing good employees, but you’re not sure why?

It may be time to review your managerial strategy and get some advice on how to reduce turnover.

If you’d like to learn more about the damaging effects of problematic bosses, send me a message at

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

How We Really Learn
Productivity Redefined: Debunking The Lazy Millennial Myth
What Is Your Employee Value Creation Strategy?

This article was originally published in December of 2018 but has been updated just for you in May 2020. 

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734