The Top Five Crimes of Crummy Managers

Like many employees, Matt, a communications professional in New York, had a boss who was a lovely person but couldn't manage a team to save her life.

One minute Matt's ex-boss was the kind, supportive mother figure who wouldn't hesitate to pick up the latte tab or dole out helpful career advice. The next, she was the briefcase-toting Bride of Frankenstein.


"When things were not going her way she would yell, scream and even hide from the situation," Matt explained via e-mail.

One incident in particular occurred when Matt presented his boss with a client briefing document he'd prepared.

"She was unhappy with the way that the document was laid out so she expressed her disgust by ripping each page out of the binder and throwing them at me one at a time," Matt said, noting that the binder contained 40 pages in all.

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Another time, "She asked me if I had decided (and I quote) 'to put my brain in my ass instead of my head this morning,'" Matt said.

Happily for Matt, his boss -- who had a history of terrorizing her underlings -- was replaced last year.

It's no secret that countless managers land the job without receiving an ounce of leadership training. You can't really blame them: Who wouldn't want a bigger office, job title and paycheck -- even if it meant learning how to lead on the fly?

What you can do, however, is learn to nip bad bossery in the bud. Herewith, five of the biggest cardinal sins of stinky supervisors and some suggestions for dealing with them, no matter how nice they may seem in the breakroom:

Pulling a Jekyll and Hyde

Like Matt, Joel, a professional in the San Francisco Bay Area, was cursed with a boss who could go from "greatest guy to hang out with for drinks or a game" to raving lunatic in mere seconds.

"He called me at 6 a.m. one morning ranting and raving for 20 minutes about me not giving him an update on a high-profile project before I could get a word in edgewise to tell him that we had an hour-long conversation about it the night before," said Joel, who left the job after three years to work for himself, mainly because of his boss' "erratic behavior and unreasonable standards."

"A boss that can be a sweetheart in the morning and act like a monster in the afternoon is often overwhelmed by their pressures," said Lynn Taylor, author of the forthcoming book, "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT): How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job."

Since quitting or getting a transfer isn't always an option -- especially in today's employment environment -- Taylor suggests familiarizing yourself with a volatile boss' triggers. If they tend to implode after 3 p.m., seek them out early in the day. If they're a terror after status meetings with their own manager, stay far, far away. If they hate long e-mails, keep the correspondence snappy.

If you still find yourself the target of an unexpected tirade, "Give your boss the opportunity to have the floor," Taylor said. "All they want is to vent. Don't fight a tantrum with a tantrum."

Elevating Micromanagement to an Art Form

Next to Jekyll/Hyde syndrome, this is the biggest complaint I hear people make about their incredibly sweet yet woefully inept bosses.

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