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4 Types of Toxic Managers & How to Deal with Them

Being a manager isn’t easy. The technical skills a person relies on early in their career don’t always translate into the core skills needed to lead others. If they did, anyone could be promoted and adored by their employees. Of course, we know that’s not the case; toxic managers walk among us. Usually, a workspace stress is the direct result of having an ineffective leader.

Take a look at these four types of toxic bosses you may encounter in your career. We’ve also provided some strategies for dealing with each.

The Micromanager

The sign of micromanager is that they closely monitor every element of their staff’s work and can be quite controlling. Ask a micromanager why they act this way, and they’ll tell you it’s because employees aren’t accountable and can’t deliver the desired quality or quantity of work without constant oversight. On the flip side, employees feel like they aren’t trusted or empowered to perform their best.

Dealing with a Micromanager

Working with a micromanager can be frustrating, especially if you’re used to working independently. The best way to deal with a micromanager is to work on slowly gaining their trust. Give frequent status updates when you’re working on a project and make sure you deliver on your promises consistently. Over time, even the worst micromanager can begin to trust a good employee and loosen their vice-like grip.

The Buddy Manager

The buddy manager aims to please. When you first meet him or her, you’ll think you’ve hit the jackpot of great bosses because they’re fun and friendly. But they’re more interested in being friends than leaders.

The problem is, it’s impossible to be a good manager without making tough decisions, providing constructive criticism and occasionally angering staff. Buddy managers will just tell you what they think you want to hear. At best, you won’t receive the honest feedback you need to grow as a professional. At worst, you may never get the opportunity to advance in your role because you’re blissfully unaware that higher-ups aren’t happy with your performance.

How to deal with a Buddy Manager

To deal with a buddy manager, get into the habit of asking for positive feedback first. Once you’ve received some positive feedback, push for suggestions on how you can improve going forward. Then make sure you accept their input and act on it.

The Passive-Aggressive Manager

An Aggressive manager can be exhausting to work for. They’re constantly changing priorities, hyper-conforming, inefficient management and moving deadlines without warning, making it difficult for you to determine your focus for any given day – let alone establish long-term goals. They criticize you in public and withhold recognition and praise.

How to deal with a Stubborn Boss

The first step in dealing with an indecisive manager is to accept that being frazzled by shifting priorities won’t do any good. Your best bet is to build flexibility into your schedule. Plan on getting projects done ahead of scheduled deadlines so that last minute changes won’t throw your day into chaos. Also, check in with your manager often to discuss what you’re working on and ensure your priorities are aligned.

The Incompetent Manager

These managers say they care about employee development, but are rarely around to provide coaching or support, simply because they’re spread too thin.

Working under an absentee manager can be good for employees who like to work independently – at least for a while. But if you have questions or need feedback or on your work, they’re nearly impossible to get ahold of.

How to deal with a Incompetent Manager

Working with an absentee manager involves adapting to their schedule and keeping communication concise. Don’t expect a response from an email that is several paragraphs long and covers multiple subjects. Stick to one topic and use easy-to-read bullet points whenever possible. To get some face time with an absentee manager, schedule a meeting on their calendar. You’ll get more accomplished in a 15-minute video chat than you would in 50 unanswered emails.

While dealing with one of these toxic managers can be frustrating, there’s usually an upside. As now you know the toxic manager traits, you’ll learn to manage the manager. At the very least, you’ll become more flexible and adaptable to working with different personalities. That’s a soft skill that will serve you well whether you stick it out in your current workplace or move on.

If you think it’s time to find a new  manager who’s better suited to your own work style, check out the latest jobs report to see what’s going on in your job market.


Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.