Treat Bad Bosses Like Toddlers

Treat Bad Bosses Like Toddlers

Some people are just horrible to work for, which can infect not just your workday but your home life as well. Quitting isn’t the only option, though, if you have a toxic boss. One way to manage the stress is to think of your bad boss like a toddler.

Photo by Jaimie Duplass

Bad bosses can act like toddlers with their mood swings, short attention spans, tantrums, stubbornness, and self-centeredness, according to CNBC/USA Today.

No, you can’t give your boss a time out when he/she acts out, but you can give yourself a time out (make an excuse to leave the scene) — a strategy we’ve recommended before for dealing with a crazy boss — and better handle the situation with a “manage up” approach:

When dealing with one of these bad bosses, you have to manage up – take almost a parenting approach, Taylor said. She uses the acronym CALM – Communicate (be open, honest and communicate frequently). Anticipate problems. “If you see a tantrum working its way down the hall, don’t stick your neck out!” Taylor advises. Laugh, “because it’s a great diffuser of tension and breaks barriers,” Taylor said. And finally, Manage Up. “We’re not speaking about parenting here or coddling,” she said. “If you’re good parents, you know there’s such a thing as tough love. You have to be a proactive problem solver, as well as a role model and provider of positive energy.”

Maybe just thinking of your boss as a toddler acting out can help you manage better. The article also identifies five types of bad bosses, including The Bully and The Micromanager, and ways to deal with each of them.

Plan for handling bad bosses: Treat them like toddlers [USA Today]


  • Sometimes bosses are so bad and so ingratiated into THEIR bosses (ie, the people you’d go to as a last-ditch) that anyone they’ve decided to pick on has no hope. I was the top person on a team, and had the track record of large dollar bonuses to prove it. A teammate without said record who had previously been a manager at the company (and who unbeknownst to current leadership had been deliberately removed from management by prior leadership for good reason) was promoted back into management and ended up my manager. When she saw how much better I’d been doing than her, she made it her mission in life to prove that I wasn’t all that great, and she CERTAINLY didn’t want my help on ANYTHING because that would only have proven that I am indeed better thanher, is the way she seemed to see it. I went from bonuses equal to my annual salary to nothing and inclusion in a layoff in mere months.

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