Half of Us Have Had 'Horrible Bosses': How to Handle Them

Half of Americans have bad bossesMost Americans might not plot to kill their supervisors like the employees do in the new Jennifer Aniston movie Horrible Bosses (opening Friday), but nearly half have reason to scream bloody murder, a new survey says.

A whopping 46% of workers have toiled under an "unreasonable boss" according to an OfficeTeam staffing poll. Of the 441 respondents, 35% said they stayed at first to deal with the issue, while 11% quit immediately.

Apparently the majority of American workers are fearful of confronting their bosses -- or getting fired. Despite the negative situation, 59% continued in their position under the same supervisor.

A study that highlights our dissatisfaction with the people who sign our checks doesn't exactly come as news, but the high rate is worth noting. Where are all the superior superiors? Bosses were once underlings, too. Didn't they learn anything on the way up?

"Bad bosses aren't necessarily bad people, but they certainly can make work challenging for those who report to them," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Often, individuals are promoted because they excel in a given job, but that doesn't mean they have the skills to be effective leaders."

OfficeTeam identified five types of mis-managers and brief coping strategies for each:

The helicopter boss who hovers to make sure you're doing your work. Build trust, OfficeTeam recommends, by meeting deadlines and keeping your supervisor in the loop.

The boss who gives you no direction. Point out in a gentle way that you need some details to complete the task to your boss's specs.

The boss who strong-arms you to do it his way. Plead your case in a calm way. Sometimes the voice of reason resonates, even with bullies.

The boss who takes credit for your work. Do what you can to make sure your contributions are apparent to other managers, and document your communication with the boss.

The boss whose personality swings make Sybil look stable.
You're a pal one minute, a scapegoat in gray flannel the next. Don't take it personally, and try to keep your communication with this boss to the work issue at hand.

In Horrible Bosses, Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey play the honchos from hell who torment Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day. We haven't seen the movie yet, but we're guessing the recommended "voice of reason" method didn't work so well for them.


Gallery: Your Stories of Bosses and Co-Workers from Hell

Bosses from Hell


Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

27 Comments

Filter by:
Raul

Want to retire in the next 24 months or less . Go to wwwretireby2014com . Watch the videos there . Then get on the waiting list.

July 28 2011 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sharolyn

I can honestly say that I had a good boss lady who was very caring and appreciated all the work the employees did but sometimes others are jealous and they did not get the cudos that she did because she treated us well and we did the work that we were suppose to do and did it 110% because of her. Don't get me wrong if we did something she did not like she would never ever discuss it outside of the office but oh boy we would the tongue lashing of our lives behind closed doors. Many of the administratiors had Masters Degree which they thought made them above others but I swear I beleive some of them brought those degrees from the streets or printed them on their computers at home because they are dumb dummies just clueless. Then you have those that are head of various departments and they have no clue as to what is going on. They hire and fire who they want to and if they don't like you your out of a job. JUST SICKOS WITH A WEE BIT OF POWER.

July 25 2011 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Whad Up Girl!

I have a great boss, but in the past when I had horrible bosses; I just tuned them out. I never called in sick, so when I would get real upset, I'd get a doctors note and be out for 1 week.

I quit one job during a board meeting. I left the president of the health company think that I had all the papers in order for the stockholders. When the meeting came, I had someone in IT mess up my computer and I told my boss I quit in front of the stockholders. One of the stockholders was nice, actually they all were. I stood in front of them and told them how horrible she was. They didn't seem shocked; as I know they saw her bad behavior. Found out she went through 6 executive secretaries in 6 months. Even called me and wanted me to come back, just hung up on her ass. She was eventually fired. And it got around what I did to her and many told me "good for you" I did it for all the staff, she wasn't a nurse, but she'd be telling the nurses how to do their job.

July 23 2011 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john morton

I am taking business technology in college. I agree that some bosses are unreasonable over-the-top egotistical maniacs. But, it's a job. Some jobs are fun, and some jobs are considerably unpleasant. I believe a job is what you make it.

July 23 2011 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jfatshaft

A bad economy makes it worse because you feel trapped....sometimes you get lucky though.......had a great day today...found a new job....!!!!!!!!

July 21 2011 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Connie

Had 2. One is dead now. Ate herself into oblivion. The other was known as the hatchet lady. DP&L dayton, oh. Think she is still there unfortunately.

July 08 2011 at 7:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lorraine Grippo

i gotta say it female bosses are the worst. I would rather work for a male any time,even though they can be bullies as well.

July 07 2011 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gina

I left a very nice job making great money because the owner was such a lying, mental, nutcase! I ran her business to the point she was able to open another one within the same year of opening her first one. She was rolling in the dough but still felt the need to swindle every employee who quit out of at least 20 bucks from their last check by claiming they took something from their work station. I hate to say this but the term "Jew you down" must have been coined after my ex boss! She was so money hungry she wanted everyone to come in to work even if they were throwing up with a raging fever! She wished one girl would get "Food Poisoning" because she had to leave early to attend a wedding. She never had enough money in her bank account so whoever was the last or next to last person to try to cash their check always got screwed.

July 07 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gina's comment
carolindacool

Oh Gina Gina Gina---lol lol Your hatred of using a disgusting prejudicial term with which to "express yourself" just wasn't quite strong enough to save you from exposing your extreme ignorance. How very narrow your life has been, and how hateful your mouth is. "coined AFTER your former boss"? Nope. You learned that term from your brilliant parents. Many people are born into families who are bottom-feeders---not just you. It's our responsibility to grow beyond the toxic environment into which we were born. Here we are in the new millennium, and you actually believe that Jewish people have a patent on dishonest behavior!! You've met so many Jewish people! Right! That's how you can even have an opinion at all. Thank God you don't have my Jewish boss. You don't deserve to have a boss as intelligent, kind, and considerate as my boss. You're really pathetic, dear...

July 24 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
squishyfishface

As mid management I can relate to both sides. I worked for a national food chain for almost two years. I had employees who showed up late or did not show up at all, and because of some excuse or another, they got away with it. I had employees who thought that work meant nothing but a place to socialize and catch up on gossip and payed no attention to our customers without someone saying hey, this person has been waiting for over ten minutes...I also had a boss who would scream and yell and pretty much throw a tantrum, and five minutes later act like your best friend. She would tell the mid management team to do things a certain way or not do it at all, and then blame us when our monthly inspection came around. I took my shift and my crew from the lowest ranked crew in the store to second place for six months in a row and she took all the credit for it, regardless of the fact that she was always gone or just leaving when our shift started. I took us to record closing times, and again she took credit. It was a relief when I found out they were transferring her to another store, but then they replaced her with a manager that stayed in the office all day, even when we were short handed and yelled at the crew and managers because they were not doing ten jobs at one time. I am of the belief that you never ask your employees to do something that you won't or wouldn't but if I am working my butt off my crew and manager should be right there doing the same thing to make sure that we achieve our goals. When it came up that I was pregnant, after losing a son shortly after birth less than a year before, and my pregnancy was high risk, and at the same time my grandmother had been diagnosed with stage two lung cancer and I would be taking her to daily treatments an hour away from our home, I tried to work with this new manager and let her know what was going on and I would have to stay on closing shifts she started scheduling me at times that were impossible for me to work. When my doctors told me that I would have to reduce my stress level and my family and I made the decision for me to leave this job, she made the comment that she worked and lifted fifty plus pounds until she was 7 months pregnant, and that I just wasn't tough enough, my crew got in her face and on my last day 6 people out of my 10 person crew walked out. I think if more managers AND employees realized it is about teamwork and credit should go where credit is due, the work place would be allot happier. After I left my district supervisor called and asked if I would come back after the baby was born, I politely declined. I am still friends with many of the ppl I worked with and from what I understand the turnover rate is now at 110%. All I can say is good luck explaining that to the owner.

July 07 2011 at 1:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
gmydogbud

The worst type of person to work with is a "BACK STABBING" - Counterpart. You know the type who is sweet to your face and puts a knife in your back as soon as you turn to walk away. This typeof lowlife, goes to the Boss full of complaints and is after your job. Have been lucky to only run into one of this type in my work life! In my opnion, dealing with this type is worse than dealing with a low life boss!

July 07 2011 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply