The bully boss never went away, they just wear a disguise now. Here are the 4 archetypes of bad bosses and how to deal with them

In the past, many workplaces were characterized by high-intensity environments where bosses would yell at and harass their employees without consequence. Sexism and racism were also more prevalent, and employees had few reliable channels to address these issues. However, times have changed, and most big firms now have HR departments that discourage bullying tactics like shouting, degrading, or intimidation. As a result, the era of the "traditional bully" boss is largely over.

However, this doesn't mean that bad bosses have disappeared completely. Workplace bullying still exists but has taken on more subtle forms. Grace Lordan, a labor economist at the London School of Economics, has identified four archetypes of contemporary bad bosses based on her interviews with workers.

The first archetype is the modern bully, who is an updated version of the volatile boss. Instead of exploding in anger, these bosses target specific individuals and harass them by limiting their opportunities for participation and advancement in the workplace. They may ignore their victims, isolate them, or exclude them from important meetings and opportunities. If you find yourself working for a modern bully, it is important to create physical and professional distance from them. Build networks that the boss cannot infiltrate, consider changing desk locations, or work remotely to minimize interaction. In extreme cases, keeping a record of instances when you were excluded or treated unfairly can be helpful in providing evidence to HR.

The second archetype is the egotist, who has a huge ego and a strong need for validation. These bosses dislike being threatened, so they avoid hiring or promoting employees who may overshadow them or challenge their ideas. To navigate working with an egotist, you can choose to flatter them and conform to their preferences, which may result in raises and promotions. However, it is important to strike a balance and not give too much praise, as it can negatively impact the organization's efficiency. Similar to dealing with the modern bully, maintaining a record of your own actions and achievements can be helpful, and understanding how much you are willing to compromise for the sake of playing their game is important.

The third archetype is the mediocre manager. These managers often lack competence in their core responsibilities but excel in building relationships within the company. They know how to navigate company politics and survive restructuring or mergers. To deal with a mediocre manager, it is crucial to understand that their success is based on playing games rather than their job performance. To ensure compliance and transparency, keep a record of promotions and communicate the details of your accomplishments. However, it is wise to keep in mind that staying under a mediocre manager for the long term may not be beneficial, as they can be unpredictable and may blame subordinates for their own mistakes.

The fourth archetype is the overly nice-boss. While this may seem desirable at first, it can hinder career growth because these bosses prioritize being liked over assertiveness and productivity. They may avoid difficult conversations and shy away from essential discussions related to innovation or restructuring. To handle an overly nice boss, you can explore opportunities within the organization by asking for exposure to new colleagues or a transfer to another team. Their tendency to say yes due to their niceness can work to your advantage.

In conclusion, it is advisable to avoid working under these five archetypes of bad bosses, including the traditional bully boss. If the negative behavior of a boss cannot be fully addressed, it is important to establish strict work-life boundaries to contain the toxicity and minimize personal stress. And ultimately, if necessary, switching jobs is always an option, especially if a boss poses a serious threat to your career. It is important to set a deadline for improvement and take action to minimize any potential damage. 

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