I’ve now been a wage-slave for over half my life. At the age of sixteen I decided education was overrated and Real Life was ready to be grabbed by the testicles and swung round violently. I ditched college, headed down the job centre and got my first job which bought me face to tedium with my first boss. I haven’t been lucky with bosses. Most of them have been mouth-breathing morons who couldn’t find their hands with both hands let alone their arses. I have found, however, that all bosses generally slot quite neatly into one of a few certain types. These are the ones I’ve encountered during my career so far.
The Angry Boss
Perhaps as a child he witnessed the death of a pet, maybe he was chubby and picked last for sport or maybe he was just born that way. Whatever the reason, Angry Boss is incapable of communicating with anything other than rage. He never relaxes, although he may occasionally move to a lower level of tension but that’s generally reserved for the Christmas party providing no one mentions the festive office closure. In Angry Boss’s head, all employees represent irritating responsibility, irritating demands and general brain-melting irritation. Angry Boss is proud of his job and probably loves the company he works for but that’s because the only other things in his life are a nagging spouse and irritating, ungrateful children. When he witnesses his irritating employees being anything less than faultless, he takes it extremely personally and will generally require no more than an over-loud sneeze to explode in a shower of puce cheeks and spittle. Angry Boss is impossible to manage. There’s no point trying to kiss up to him; he is oblivious to brown-nosing because any interaction with any employee automatically makes the vein in his temple pound like a kick drum. The only options are to buy ear plugs, wear full kevlar body armour to work or resign immediately.
The I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-A-Boss Boss
What happened? One minute, ICBIAB Boss was happily pootling along never noticeably over-achieving but never being a total moron either. He probably had one or two team members to whom he was slightly senior but really they were more like mates and he certainly never delegated. He was responsible for the team tea run every morning and afternoon because really, it was no trouble. One day he’s having a nice comfy review with his line manager and they beamingly inform him that due to his admirable work record, faultless punctuality and can-do attitude, he’s now in charge of the entire department. ICBIAB Boss is suddenly torn. He can’t decline; he’s saving for his cottage in the country/VW Camper/bee hives but he’s just not boss material! He sits miserably in his new office, his entire body language screaming guilt at his promotion over his former team mates who are far more worthy than him. He still offers to make tea but no one accepts and if he ever has to (heaven forfend) discipline anyone, he’s more likely to take them down the pub, avoid the issue entirely and end up accidentally giving them a pay rise through sheer embarrassment. Handle ICBIAB Boss any way you please. A boss like him can be a blessing but if you’re looking for a strong leader, don’t look to him. He’s more likely to be at the back, holding a Thermos.
The Two-Faced Boss
You can’t believe your luck. There you were, terrified of starting a new job but your first lunch is spent sitting opposite Two-Faced Boss in the local Italian restaurant, cosily sharing a tiramisu and discussing your families. Nothing is too much trouble, take as much time as you need to settle in because honestly, we’re just like a family here. Gradually though, you feel unsettled. When Two-Faced Boss told you a fortnight was fine for that project you weren’t expecting her to wait two days then go to your colleague behind your back and task them with it as well, ultimately pitting you against each other, but that’s what she’s done. Two-Faced Boss is a master of spin. She will greet your concerns about this duplicitous behaviour with a beaming smile and a rueful ‘I can’t believe you thought that’ shake of the head. She will explain that your colleague is simply lacking in confidence and she gave him the project as more of an exercise. YOU are the one with the genuine responsibility. You can bet your canteen vouchers she said exactly the same thing to your colleague about you. Two-Faced Boss believes herself to be the puppet master. She revels in the final explosion of situations she’s created and of course, always walks away blameless. She will smile directly at you while slipping a knife between your vertebrae. Don’t try to handle Two-Faced Boss, simply accept that everything they say is a lie and resign when your brain finally turns into a wet cake.
The Emotional Boss
Emotional Boss has no idea what constitutes acceptable workplace boundaries. Within two hours of working for Emotional Boss you will know all about his family, his friends, his imminent divorce, his eldest child’s impetigo and his erectile dysfunction. You are his unwilling confidant, a lighthouse in the dark, tumultuous sea of his life. Mainly by virtue of the fact that you’re paid to sit next to him all day with no escape. Emotional Boss doesn’t handle confrontation well. He takes everything to heart and is more likely to wail ‘Why me?’ than he is to participate in a grievance procedure. His work is slapdash because he’s really more of an artist (have you seen his watercolours/shell clocks/paint-it-yourself gnomes?) and attention to detail doesn’t come easily. The world is out to get him and if you don’t listen dutifully and offer constant, tireless advice he will assume you’re against him too and either become clingy and needy or will ignore you entirely. Emotional Boss is just desperate for someone on whom to be dependent so if you want to manage him, just be there for him. Soon you will be able to write your own job description and will have taken over his parking space. However, even someone with boundless patience will eventually be driven loopy so it’s advisable to convince him to sign your office transfer request and fast.
The Moronic Boss
Moronic Boss is a mystery. How someone who has no grasp of basic spelling, let alone a split infinitive came to be in charge of people is baffling. Moronic Boss will give you a document to type, so full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been written by a blind, Japanese five year old, on a rollercoaster. Her IT skills stretch to finding the ‘on’ button on her PC after a few false starts jabbing hopelessly at the coffee machine and photocopier. She will summon you repeatedly, each time whining that ‘it’s broken’ or ‘it was doing it OK yesterday, someone must have fiddled with it’. Each time you will press ‘send’ on the email she’s typed or ‘save’ on the spreadsheet she’s attempted and each time she will say ‘Oh, I’d have got there eventually.’ Moronic Boss’s idiocy is not limited to IT or the English language. Frequently you will discover she has reorganised your filing system, simply because she had time to kill while her PC was rebooting after yet another user-error and now everything is filed by which season the document date falls into. You will find that she’s decided to change stationery supplier to someone five times more expensive with a minimum three-day delivery period, purely because their logo was pink. Moronic Boss has no guile and no game. She is dumb as chalk but someone obviously likes her so be careful what you do. Over time you will outshine her but until that day comes you must drop your IQ by 10 points, simply to sit near her.
The Nice Boss
Oh, don’t be so ridiculous.