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back to article The 10 most INHUMAN bosses you'll encounter: A Reg reader's guide

Your boss could well be a barely restrained psychopath. Indeed, it is probable that he is the living incarnation of Cthulhu himself. Or he may be a bumbling incompetent who'll sink your career along with his. You, the downtrodden techie, need to learn how to deal with him - and fast. First, stop thinking of him as a person …

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AhIm

Notable in the opening few paragraphs is any mention of the female gender - although I have worked for three [ Edit: 4. Just remembered about my first IT vacation job while at university ], and more if you count "dotted lines", women in the past. Although some of them still fit into the descriptions offered.

However, my favourite worst boss was The Twister.

Whatever you said to him (and this one was a bloke) would be twisted into an unrecognisable statement and then thrown back at you. For example: "We've been delayed because the delivery from the suppliers hasn't turned up". becomes "So what you're telling me is that you failed to manage a third party who was critical to the project?".

It became so bad that we (the team) were only prepared to communicate with him via email, so there was written proof of what had been said. Obviously it slowed things down, but sometime keeping your arse covered is the overriding factor - and getting any work done comes in a distant second.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AhIm

Project managers not in our line often fitted into that category. We used to set our boss on them. He was excellent at Business Poker, and had a good track record of assassination, as well as the ear of some *really* senior people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AhIm

Agree on the gender topic.

I know this isn't The Guardian, but it IS possible to overdo him/he when they/them will make it seem less like we're reading the Daily Mail.

Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral language in responses in the past - so I'm more aware of this now than I used to be.

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Re: "Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral"...

Probably because she was a dick?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AhIm

Different folks, different strokes. If I see anything as grammatically ugly as the use of "they" when "he" has been used in the case of indeterminate gender for 100s of years I tend to close the window. People who label such things as misogynistic dilute real issues.

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FAIL

Re: AhIm

"Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral language in responses in the past - so I'm more aware of this now than I used to be."

"Gender neutral language."

That would be things like "We, they, it, the," and of course "a" instead of he/she.

Note MS Word (being American) flags this as too "passive."

I keep expecting it to scream. "WHAT ARE YOU? YOU GOT TO BE A MAN ABOUT THIS" (and show a hand-slapping-face icon).

Challenging stuff, this English, is it not?

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Re: AhIm

"has been used in the case of indeterminate gender for 100s of years"

And had thee been writing hundreds of years ago, we wouldn't have a problem with thine attitude, but language changes so thou wilst just have to "suck it up".

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Pronoun trouble.

Anonymous Coward of 16:38 GMT, both singular they and epicene he have been used in English to refer to someone of indeterminate sex for at least five centuries. Like you, I prefer epicene he, but singular they is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Do you really stop reading something purely on the basis of finding the writer’s choice of pronoun “ugly”?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AhIm

Dealing with a recalcitrant third party just now. I'd drop them if I had any say in it. But I'm just the dev trying to make it all work, so my opinion doesn't count.

I also know the "boss" for this will take all the credit and the sales drones get the rewards. Despite me having to work unpaid overtime to deliver.

Job might be shitty at times, but at least it's a job and this isn't a good economy in which to spit one's dummy and try to find a new position. And certainty not at my age (over 40). This is the last job I will ever work...depressing.

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Re: AhIm

Let me guess you renamed 'Chairman' to be 'Chair' or 'Chairperson' in your business?

.

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FAIL

Re: AhIm

In general, the most dangerous manager is the Charismatic Incompetent. These people are charming and leave a wake of destruction in their path. They never get blamed because hey, everyone LIKES him so much!

Among German managers I've seen Your Problems are Your Fault & My Problems are Your Fault. At Siemens we had one of those managers screw up a group. When things go so bad HR got involved and their interrogation of staff consisted of accusing staff of not reminding this manager to do his (the manager's) work! Including work staff had no knowledge this manager was supposed to be doing!

Then there is the Seagull CEO. They fly in and soon hire their buddies to flock around them. After they have shit on everything they fly away to shit on some other company.

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Unhappy

Re: Pronoun trouble.

Always remember that the purpose of HR is to protect the managers from the employees. So in any disagreement with management that goes in front of HR, when you're wrong you're wrong, and when you're right you're REALLY wrong.

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Where were your articles when I was in my 20's? I've encountered every type of boss listed. Actually, sometimes, multiple types in the same person.

Excellent article, as always. Look forward to the next.

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Pirate

Not a BOFH's guide

A BOFH's guide, eh?

If I was Simon Travaglia I'd be pretty pissed of with the use of "BOFH" in the sub-heading of this article.

And if I was the person responsible for writing that sub-heading, I'd now be pretty nervous of coming to a sticky end in a darkened server room / crashing lift / under a falling fire-safe / etc.

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Unhappy

Re: Not a BOFH's guide

"A BOFH's guide, eh?"

Indeed.

Sadly, no discussion of the acceptable use of a cattle prod in "Management discussions."

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Re: Not a BOFH's guide

I did not make any mention of the BOFH for that very reason, although by day I am a famous headhunter n global financial markets, as a Reg Freelancer I am less than nothing and my text can be altered by editors, sub-editors and people editors meet in pubs.

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Anonymous Coward

#7

Crédit stealing is one thing, but these guys also scapegoat, and that's when things get really nasty. If you find yourself working for a Type 7, watch your back and cover your arse.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: #7

Yup, I too was expecting the Credit Thief to also be described as the Scapegoater.

Worked for one of these. He would make sure everyone knew how good a manager he was when my colleagues and I managed to turn around a project that his consultant friends had ballsed up. However, when the brown stuff hit the fan after a failed database upgrade, he disclaimed all knowledge of it. That resulted in a phone call from a deeply unpleasant company director who called me every rude name under the sun, one of our contractors walking out in disgust and a case of constructive dismissal.

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1980s video games taught me to equate 'Boss' with 'Big Baddie", to be shot, bombed, round-house kicked or shurikened as appropriate.

Luckily, I have come to realise that isn't always true.

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Joke

No, you forgot missiled and sliced up with a large sword ;)

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10 Types of bosses

Old joke - There are 10 types of bosses, those who understand this joke and those who don't.

Seriously there are 2 types of bosses in a large company. Those who concern themselves with their underlings well being and do their best to be a facilitator rather than a dictator, and the other sort who only concern themselves with pleasing their superiors. If you have the former, count yourself lucky. If you have the latter, well commiserations, just hope their desire for promotion is fulfilled soon.

In small companies there is a particular type of boss who should always avoid. The ones who think because they own the company, you, your life, and your families life are play things for their amusement. They will dangle the promise of share options in front of you while demanding you work 20 weekends in a row, but somehow those promises will never come to fruition. At the same time they will play off colleagues against each other to ensure that their power is never seriously questioned.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the very first management handbook: The Prince by Machiavelli. Even if you don't want to be a boss, yourself: it's worth a read (and it has the added benefit of not being very long). That way you can identify the traits as described by an expert and wonder in the realisation that in the past half-millenium, nothing much has changed. With the possible exception of no longer being able to do away with your opponents.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

Not sure if The Prince has claim to be the first, I have had a few bosses rather fond of a management guide written around 512BC by some Chinese dude called Sun Tzu.

They tended to be mainly type 5/9/10 bosses, so I guess they did not take a lot of it in.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

@ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

@ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded.

What drivel, who said anything about "publicly traded" shares? Share options can be had in any company where the ownership of the company is vested in shares, typically they are used to allow new equity investment or to provide an equity share.

For instance, Jim and Bob own a catering company, Jim has 50 shares, Bob has 50 shares. They have an employee, Phil, who is so essential to the business that Jim and Bob create an extra 20 shares, and grant an option to Phil that he can buy the shares for £20,000. This is a share option - if Phil executes the option, he will own 1/6th of the company, and Jim and Bob will own 5/12ths each.

hammarbtyp is describing a situation where Jim and Bob keep telling Phil that "you are so essential, we're going to have to see about getting you some equity", without actually doing shit. It happens all the time.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

That's it pretty well. Small companies often promise jam tomorrow to make up for lousy hours, conditions, and pay.

They often hint of great riches as the company grows a la Microsoft, Google etc. However what is more likely to happen especially if the company is bought out by some big firm is the owner will take the money and run. Even if it is written in the contract it is not unknown for employees to be sacked for frivolous reasons days before the takeover.

I have only been sacked once in my life and that was at a small company(8 people). The reasons given by my psychopathic boss was not standing my round at a company jolly and passing wind in the office . The real reason was refusing to work unpaid weekend for the 10th weekend in a row for personal reasons.

Fortunately I had already seen the writing on the wall. My only regret was I was sacked a day before I was going to resign anyway

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Unhappy

Re: 10 Types of bosses

"@ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded."

Start ups do.

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

They will dangle the promise of share options in front of you while demanding you work 20 weekends in a row, but somehow those promises will never come to fruition.

I have heard that shit before!!

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Re: 10 Types of bosses

'merkin companies often do have shares on offer for employees. On offer... I never said anybody qualified.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 10 Types of bosses

Sun Tzu never existed. Given the period it was supposed to be from, the farming methods and other features described are all wrong. This was all down to a fashion in China for presenting "ancient truths" and such. So the whole Sun Tzu mythos was just branding.

Still a good read though, but I find so many people miss the point despite "Sun Tzu" driving it home. The best general fights no wars. They didn't say "The best general is a meglomaniacal berk who treats his troops worse than dirt".

Also, business managers should not equate themselves overly much with great generals. If you are a good manager, others will do that for you.

Especially if you lead by example. Something our bosses, MPs and civil servants should all learn.

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Yup. That's me.

All of them. Now quit shirking and GET BACK TO WORK!

:D

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Re: Yup. That's me.

I am at work.

My code's compiling.

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Re: Yup. That's me.

I used that very excuse yesterday... and got away with it!

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Re: Yup. That's me.

I'm multitasking. I'm waiting for a test to finish and reading about stuff in the IT world and keeping abreast of it. I've put down reading El Reg in my training folder as proof.

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DJV
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@Crisp

Ah, thanks - reminds me of this.

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Re: Yup. That's me.

"My code's compiling."

Then go find other code to write, peasant.

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Unhappy

"I wonder if my programs ever compile."

You hope no one who thinks like this could ever manage someone in IT.

But somehow......

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Re: Then go find other code to write, peasant.

If you happen to wander through the "Tank" (over at CW), you might hear from "Jim The Boss":

Get yore lazy assk back to wrok!

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Anonymous Coward

Keep it simple

I work for small companies, the smaller the better. You get more interesting projects and less managers (more workers). In my previous job the small company went through a rapid expansion of no middle managers to 5. I dont know how bad the managers were for the other departments but they seemed ok and looked to be pulling their weight. However I got the dud. I got a guy who knew nothing but didnt know it. He was highly risk averse including running a few (less than 50) inserts into a production database which alone would have no visible effect.

He had to go to meetings which he would call me up on the break to ask me the questions he was asked. I did ask if it would be quicker to just put me in the meeting as I was the only one in the IT dept and the only one who knew any answers.

The worst part was how agreeable he was. He agreed with everything I said concerning what we can do and what needs to be done, then agree with everything the director said although it was a complete 180. In the end I got sick of doing nothing because communication took so long (me to him to director. Director to him to me. Rinse and repeat) that I left. Hearing from previous co-workers he hired 3 people to replace me and they still overshot their deadlines by many months.

I couldnt hide a degree of pleasure when he was grovelling for me to stay but I couldnt get any work done under that guy. Even offering me a substantial raise (I doubt the director would have parted with) I couldnt stay in those conditions. And I couldnt be happier. Another small company with very little management

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Re: Keep it simple

Small companies however can have problems of there own. You are far more open to the whims of managers/owners. Open to abuse by people who decide they don't like you. They often have no set processes for training, complaints management etc. No guidelines or comeback. Small companies are no better or worse than large ones, they just have different problems IMO.

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DJV
Happy

Re: Keep it simple

Know what you mean! However, I am now glad that I am in a very small "company" with a brilliant (ahem) boss - it consists of:

1) Me

End of list.

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Re: Keep it simple

Another small company with very little management infected by damagement.

FTFY!

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And for your next trick ...

Can we look forward to the ten worst organisational cultures? (And how the ten worst boss types fit into them?) Psychopathic bosses seemingly on day release from a supposedly secure hospital, who treat every mistake as deliberate sabotage, and resent paying you aything for the privilige of funding their 'Grand Designs' mansion and Jaguar / Porshce habit, create a whole company culture.

And why not, after all they are the ones who started the company with their own initiative, took the risk, and there you are, working for them, who are celarly the sole wealth creators and they don't understand why you don't have the same dedication to the company as them.

The company culture cold be summed up in the following commandment:

"Make sure you have someone else to blame."

Yes, I really have worked for people like that.

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Re: And for your next trick ...

How about....'The Triple Decker'?

That's when in your office you have your manager, his Head of... and the Director of... all sitting within 30 feet of one another.

Nothing like three different decisions/opinions/strategies to work around to help a project along.

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Re: And for your next trick ...

I have a variant, my boss is in one of our overseas offices, but his boss (and one of the company directors) is in the office next to my desk (I'm too much of a humble minion to warrant a boss-box).

It can actually work to advantage though, for both playing one off against the other or just cutting out the middle man/pre-arranging how the response downward to your boss will be from his boss.

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"Make sure you have someone else to blame."

Isn't that just standard practice these days?

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Re: And for your next trick ...

"Nothing like three different decisions/opinions/strategies to work around to help a project along."

Can be handled, I'm told, by taking the line that only your immediate boss can give you orders, regardless of how senior they are, and that everyone else must go through them.

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Unhappy

Re: And for your next trick ...

"Can be handled, I'm told, by taking the line that only your immediate boss can give you orders, regardless of how senior they are, and that everyone else must go through them."

Excellent.

It's called a "Chain of command." It's a notion that seems out of place in the world of matrix and "flat" management.

I'd also suggest making it clear that if someone wants you to know something they explicitly tell you.

This avoids the old "I thought you knew" BS that some nappies managers indulge in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And for your next trick ...

We have a thing at my place called 'Blame storming'.

The managers seem to be quite effective at it.

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Anonymous Coward

Mine was a treacherous Scouse sleaze who knifed me in the back after 10 years to protect his own ass. I'll never be stupid enough to trust a "friend" again.

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