A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses: Dealing with Bullies, Idiots, Back-Stabbers, and Other Managers from Hell

A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses: Dealing with Bullies, Idiots, Back-Stabbers, and Other Managers from Hell

by Gini Scott


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, April 7


Being saddled with a terrible supervisor can turn even the best job into a nightmare. Unfortunately, not every boss is the great symbol of managerial perfection one would hope for. In fact, more people than not consider themselves stuck with a ""bad boss."" But short of remaining miserable or quitting a job, what can be done about it?

A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses provides readers with savvy, practical advice for coping with managers and supervisors who are mean, incompetent, unethical, and worse. The book includes powerful strategies for not only working with -- but thriving under -- such bad boss types as:

* The Great Betrayers -- how to defend yourself against a corporate backstabber
* The Know-Nothing Bosses -- what to do when a boss is clueless
* The Bad Communicators -- how to respond when a boss is consistently unclear

Whether a boss is high-strung, incompetent, or a power-mad tyrant, this book has the solution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814472989
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 11/25/2005
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 480,786
Product dimensions: 4.71(w) x 7.17(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range: 17 Years

About the Author

"Gini Graham Scott, Ph. D. is the founder and director of Changemakers

and Creative Communications & Research. She is the author of more than 40 books,

including A Survival Guide for Working with Humans. She has written the syndicated

""Work it Right!"" column for The Oakland Tribune and other newspapers. She lives in Oakland,


Read an Excerpt

A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses

By Gini Graham Scott


Copyright © 2006 Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7298-2

Chapter One

The Dishonest "Genius"

What happens when the top brass in an organization think your boss is a genius, but his underlings know better? They know the boss is deceptive and dishonest, yet they are demoralized and unorganized themselves, so they don't say anything. Such a situation is more likely to occur in a rigidly hierarchical organization, where the boss is the only one who has contact with higher management. In this case, employees have little power to press for change, particularly when the quality of the resulting work seems fine. To management, it seems the boss and his team are doing well. If only top management really knew that the boss was actually a liar and cheat who is not only taking credit for the employees' work, but is also on the take.

It may seem like you have few options to change what is going on. Or do you? Well, it all depends. Perhaps you might think of yourself as an enduring oak, while your boss is like a cloud, sometimes gray and threatening to storm, sometimes puffed up or wispy, and sometimes just speeding by. You're never sure what this cloud is going to do so you just try to stand firm and make the best of it, hoping to weather the storm.

That's what happened to Suzanne when she got a job for a majorairline as a sales promotion writer. She felt a great sense of pride and liked the loyal, dedicated spirit of the employees working for the airline. But then she found it nearly impossible working for her boss, who had a team of dedicated, efficient women working for him, doing promotional copy on different projects.

As she described it, "Everyone in the company was so organized, efficient, and on time. But then Jacques would come roaring into the office around noon, and he would want everything done tout de suite. Though often, after you'd do it, he'd change his mind and want something else. It was so frustrating."

For example, Jacques once said he needed some promotional materials to support the airline's new business service to a new destination. He told Suzanne she had to get it done by Friday. But when she turned it in that day, he was furious, telling her that he wanted the materials to deal with leisure travel to the country's capital. Yet, he didn't acknowledge that this was a change from what he had originally asked her to do. "You could never be right," Suzanne explained, noting that her response-like that of the other writers working for him-was always to acquiesce, apologize for whatever he claimed was wrong, and do what he said he wanted now. The team members felt "stymied and trivialized," yet they continued to take it, not wanting to rock the boat and possibly lose their jobs in a great company. Moreover, the team members often put in extra hours to make changes and corrections to make up for Jacques's poor or inconsistent directions.

Why go along? Because Suzanne found that Jacques was the darling of the top managers and company owner. Jacques was the one who turned in the work for everyone in the department; he was the one who went to the meetings with the top brass. So management had no idea that Suzanne and the other employees all had complaints about his management style. Moreover, there was little chance the top managers would find out on their own, since the executive offices were all in the front of the building, while the promotional department was located in the far rear-which to Suzanne felt "like a hundred miles away."

Meanwhile, as Suzanne continued to go along to get along with Jacques' disorganized, on-a-whim, and take-the-credit style of management, she began to notice another major problem: Jacques seemed to be on the take or paying bribes to some of the vendors. As she discovered when she worked late for several nights each week, Jacques would meet with the department's main vendors after hours, when everyone else was normally gone. A few times, she saw money or envelopes change hands, which seemed suspicious.

Still, Suzanne said nothing, since she knew Jacques's bosses considered him a "creative genius," as other employees in the office told her. They had no idea that the employees in his department were unhappy that he was taking credit for others' work, or that he was on the take. Jacques was expert at making himself look like a star. Management didn't know what was happening below them. Moreover, since Jacques was careful never to meet with the members of his team as a group, but instead handed out the assignments on a one-on-one basis, there was no organized way for people in his department to bring up their complaints as a group. Is there anything any lower-level employee might be able to do in a similar situation with a disorganized and seemingly dishonest and deceptive boss?

What Should Suzanne Do?

In Suzanne's place, what would you do and why? What do you think the outcomes of these different options would be? Here are some possibilities:

* Organize the other employees to meet with Jacques as a group to protest his lack of organization and find a way to improve communication and clarity in doing the work.

* Write up notes after meetings with Jacques and send him a memo confirming your understanding of his instructions, and stating what you plan to do and by when.

* Send an anonymous memo to the top executives in the front office to let them know that Jacques seems to be taking bribes or making payoffs to vendors.

* Tell Jacques when you get your next assignment from him that you need him to be clearer in what he wants.

* Stand up to Jacques when he tells you that you did the wrong assignment, and show him your written notes from your initial project meeting to show that he was wrong, not you.

* Learn to accept the status quo, and look on this as a way to get a good reference for your next job.

While there are many things you might like to do in this situation, a good analogy would be a poker game, where the other player has all the good cards and knows it. You can't do much, and a power play or bluff is likely to cost you the game. A big problem here is the department's location far away from the central command, so you are in effect cut off from top management. And if the top executives are thinking of Jacques as their creative golden boy, a trait seemingly reflected in the work he turns in and in his charismatic performance at his regular meetings with management, you already have several strikes against you. So an appeal above Jacques' head is very risky and unlikely to get you anywhere. Because the other employees are not organized and seem inclined to do little more than let off stream through their complaints, trying to organize them may have a limited chance of success as well.

Thus, in a situation like this, the best strategy seems to be to make the best of a bad situation, particularly if you love the company but hate your boss. Think of the job as an endurance contest where you win the longer you can stay on, and this win will help you score and shine in the next competition. Meanwhile, do what you can to make your time at the company go more smoothly and comfortably.

For example, Suzanne might do what she can to clarify her assignments by writing down what she thinks she is being asked to do. She can then plot out what she intends to do and set deadlines for herself, and then send a memo to Jacques for a confirmation. This memo will also serve as documentation for a later discussion, if Jacques changes his mind. Still another possibility is to begin to cultivate a relationship with senior executives and managers in other departments. Eventually, you might find an opportunity to confide in them about what is going on. Another approach is to report what Jacques is doing to the human resources department, since kickbacks are the kind of thing they would investigate and, if true, would be Jacques' ticket out the door. But if you are new and Jacques has been with the company for a long time, this is a risky move early on, particularly if you are the lone wolf crying foul. Thus, it's better to first gain the support of others in the company who can back you up. No, this is not the optimal solution that might involve immediately showing up Jacques and exposing him for the disorganized, dishonest, deceptive boss that he is. But the risk of doing that is high, so unless you love the thrill of the high-risk career move, it's generally safer and surer to play your poor cards conservatively and keep the stakes from soaring up too high.

Today's Take-Aways

* As in poker, you need to know when to hold them or fold them, and in this case, folding may be the more sensible way to go.

* Don't think of the expression "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" as another phrase for giving in. Sometimes joining 'em-or at least appearing to accept what's going on by remaining silent, since you don't want to do anything illegal yourself-sets you up for another win later down the road.

* When your boss acts like a flashy, jumpy hare, maybe it's better to move ahead like the quiet, steady turtle who ends up winning the race.


Excerpted from A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses by Gini Graham Scott Copyright © 2006 by Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Part I: Not Fit for Command

1. The No-Boss Boss

2. The Pass-the-Buck Boss

3. Clueless but Connected

4. Scatterboss

5. Critically Clueless

6. The Dishonest 'Genius'

Part II: That’s Unfair!

7. On Overload

8. Only Good Enough to Train Others

9. No Backup

10. No Excuses

11. That’s Perfect -- Not!

12. Promises, Promises

13. No Trust

14. You’re Great, But ...

Part III: Power Players

15. Just for Sport

16. Turning Yeses into No’s

17. The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

18. Controlling the Control Freak

19. Bad Boss in a Big Bureaucracy

20. Breaking Through the Bureaucracy

21. It Goes with the Territory

22. Who’s the Boss?

Part IV: Out of Bounds

23. Dirty Looks

24. A New Boss Is Insulting and Abusive

25. Call 911

26. Drunk, Disorderly, and Untouchable

27. The Intrusive Boss

28. Party Planner

29. Cultural Divide

Part V: Ethical Challenges

30. Dealing with Danger

31. The Cover-Up

32. It’s a Crime!

33. Sex and Faxes

34. Give In to Collective Denial or Leave?

Part VI: Putting It All Together

35. Bad Boss or Bad Employee?

36. How Bad Is Your Boss? An Assessment Quiz

37. Knowing How to Deal


About the Author"

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

" ""I wish I had A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses ten years ago when I went through three bad bosses in a row, and thought I was the only one at fault! As a career and business coach, I will definitely recommend this book to my clients because it has no-nonsense, practical tips on what to do. It also helps new bosses avoid these pitfalls themselves. I love this book!""---Susan Urquhart-Brown, M. A.; author of The Accidental Entrepreneur; Principal of CareerSteps123 Coaching in Oakland, California

""For Gini's sake, I hope she hasn't personally had to deal with the entire array of ""bosses from hell"" she describes in her new book! Most employees, unfortunately, will be able to relate to at least one of the vignettes she's compiled. Blessedly, they will also find tried-and-true solutions to whichever situation they're currently facing. Thanks to Gini for telling it like it is!"" -- Shari Dunn, Managing Principal, CompAnalysis

""Gini Graham Scott has done it again! This is a terrific book with some great hands-on advice. As always, Gini combines practical sense and fun. Pick it up -- laugh and learn!"" -- Dale Marie Golden, Vice President, Private Banking, Wells Fargo Bank

""With examples from real work situations that resonate, Gini Graham Scott’s new book offers pragmatic ways to respond for anyone who has a difficult boss, and who wants to exert influence and a degree of control."" -- Claire Kinlaw, Ph.D.; Developmental Products, Inc.; project team development consultant

""Everyone should add this book to their HR library!"" -- Joe Haraburda, President, Chief Executive Officer, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce"

Customer Reviews