For National Boss Day, Some Advice for Employees with Bad Bosses

By Ellen Wulfhorst | October 15, 2009

Friday is National Boss Day but for employees who cannot imagine celebrating such a day, a new book titled “Working for You Isn’t Working for Me” might come in handy.

The book, subtitled “The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Boss,” is a manual that aims to help beleaguered workers survive bosses as difficult as the never-pleased “chronic critic” or the “underminer” who cannot be trusted.

In this down economy, one of the most common types is the “control freak” boss who wants to approve every decision, said Katherine Crowley, a psychotherapist who wrote the book with Kathi Elster, her partner in a New York consulting firm.

“That behavior, very micro-managing, is very common under stress,” she told Reuters in an interview. “They’re terrified of making a mistake so they don’t want anything happening they don’t know about.”

Then there’s the “tell-all” boss who needs a constant audience, the “checked-out” boss who could not care less about the job and, also common in hard times, the “rule changer” boss, who changes orders and expectations at whim.

“In stressful times, an indecisive manager becomes more indecisive. We’re hearing a lot of that,” said Crowley, who previously wrote “Working With You Is Killing Me” with Elster.

Readers are given ways to assess what sorts of employees they are, such as a “nurturer,” an “observer” or even a “coaster” based on how they react and how they can deal with various types of bosses.


“I don’t think anybody’s really looked at it this way,” Elster said. “We really wanted to say, ‘Hold on, people bring their baggage to work.’

“Stop pointing a finger,” she said. “Once you understand your needs, expectations and fears, you can really work with a lot of different people better. Not everybody, but better.”

For example, employees who fare worst under the “control freak” boss are ambitious “star” workers and “challenger” workers who like to question the status quo, she said.

“A control freak cannot relinquish the reins enough to let either of those kinds of employees excel,” Crowley said. “And those are your best employees.”

The authors lay out four steps to resolve trouble with an annoying boss — detect it, detach from it, depersonalize it and deal with it.
Detaching is likely to be the hardest, said Crowley.

“When you have a difficult situation, there is something in human nature that we want to dig down, solve it, work on it harder,” she said.

“Detaching is all about getting emotional distance from the situation.”

For those workers who choose to mark National Boss Day on Oct. 16, the day was started in the United States in 1958 by Patricia Bays Haroski, a secretary at State Farm Insurance Co. to show her appreciation for her boss.

(Editing by Mark Egan and Bill Trott)

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