Most people would agree that a boss could help make or break a job. A great boss can make even the most mundane job seem more worthwhile, and a terrible boss can create a toxic work environment and ruin an otherwise perfect career opportunity. In fact, it’s often said people don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses.
Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm, notes that there are many different types of supervisors. He categorizes them as: “the narcissist, the friend, the buzzword boss, the cheapskate and the uncaring.” Perhaps you think your boss is a clown! No matter what you think of your boss, consider the following advice to help manage it.
The narcissistic boss. “This manager makes everything about them. Everything is about their schedule and about how senior leadership views them,” Gimbel says. How can you adjust if you have a self-centered boss? Gimbel suggests you try to focus on what you are passionate about at work and see where there is overlap between that passion and what appeals to your boss. “If the boss wants to be the star, then do the work and execute, because when that boss is promoted, the employee will be brought along for the ride,” he explains.
If you can keep your own ego in check, you may be able to access new opportunities. Another typical scenario with the narcissist: He or she will delegate work but won’t get into the trenches to understand all the intricacies. This could provide opportunities for you to be invited to speak to an executive team if you’re the subject matter expert on a topic. Instead of being frustrated, take advantage of the opportunity to shine whenever possible.
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The “I’m your friend” boss. This is common in workplaces where people are promoted from within and wind up supervising their previous colleagues. These bosses still want to be included in lunches out and happy hours and may even already be your Facebook friend. Gimbel suggests that these managers may worry more about being liked than about getting results. Be careful when this happens, as this scenario could negatively affect your career.
Speak up if you’re concerned. If you don’t, you may find your career stagnating as your new boss tries to be your friend and not your mentor. Explain that you want to be held accountable for your results and understand what’s necessary to do in order to succeed.
The buzzword boss. We’ve all had managers who seem to spout nothing but cliches. For example, they consistently use terms, such as “synergies,” “symbiosis of relationships,” ” win-win situation” and others. This language seems to replace real action or activity on the boss’s part. If your assignment or goal is lost in translation, Gimbel suggests you ask for clarification. “Come to each meeting with questions requiring direct answers,” he says. “Don’t be offensive and cut the boss short, but be sure you walk out of each meeting understanding exactly what is expected.”
The cost-conscious boss. This overly frugal boss looks at every penny people spend. This can go as far as asking employees why they’re using new notepads when they can use scrap paper. “This type of boss is the easiest to manage. It’s easy to identify the issue,” Gimbel says. “Play within their rules. Don’t purchase new stationary or extra staples. Skimp. With all the lunacy out there, a cheap boss isn’t all that bad.” Plus, with a cost-conscious boss, you know the way to his or her heart. Save money, however small the amount, and you could be a big winner.
The uncaring boss. Even in a time when work culture and caring about employees seems in vogue, you still hear stories about insensitive bosses. These are the bosses who don’t seem to care whether or not an employee’s family member is having surgery or passes away and who don’t understand pressures from outside work.
“The key here is to kill this type of boss with kindness. Be compassionate and show you care about what’s going on in his or her life,” Gimbel says. Perhaps “killing with kindness” will help. If not, it may be time to look for a new job with a different organizational culture.
If you’re dealing with a difficult boss, at least you’re learning how not to manage people when you have the opportunity. Use these tips to turn the situation to your advantage, and you won’t miss a single career step.
Originally appeared on U.S. News & World Reports.