Back to all stories

5 Monster Bosses: How to Fight Through and Protect Your Career

Head to happy hour anywhere in the world and chances are you’ll hear someone lamenting the “monster” boss who doesn’t understand and is wrong about everything. For most people, that’s hyperbole. No one has an actual creature-feature boss, right?

Your boss may not literally have bolts emerging from their neck like Frankenstein’s monster, but there are some villainous archetypes that emerge in the work world. If your boss lacks strategy, boundaries or even a regular presence in the office, they may fall into one of these monster categories.

Here’s how to recognize if your boss is a monster. Save yourself. Before it’s too late.

The Zombie

The zombie has no real strategy and changes her whims the way the undead go after brains — in multiple directions, zigging and zagging with no reason until they find one that sticks. “Hey, let’s work on Strategy A and revamp all the things to go with it!” and then two weeks later, when you need feedback on Strategy A, they can’t make up their mind. Or they’ve already moved onto strategy F. There’s no real plan, and even when they stumble onto some success, there’s no guarantee it’ll come around again. Your job and the company itself even, are not secure with a zombie in charge.

Protect Yourself: Try and guide your boss into some more strategic thinking. Say you really want to grow with the company and ask where they see it headed in two to five years. Offer to help develop a strategic plan that you can refer back to (or amend) as needed.

The Vampire

Vampire bosses will drain the life out of you. They need you, all the time, and it never lets up. “I know it’s after 9 pm, but could you send me that file real quick?” (Of course they want to work at night.) There are phone calls on the weekends, constant feedback and revisions of your work or even just over-sharing their personal life and drama. It’s never enough and you can never escape. The whole point of “off hours” is to stop thinking about work and recharge, but vampire bosses will never let that happen. They will drain you dry.

Protect Yourself: You can’t. Run.

The Werewolf

The werewolf boss is volatile, and sadly, not even as calendar-predictable as a real werewolf with the full moon. This boss is so nice and friendly. They want you to do your best and go out of their way to show you new things and teach you new skills. You just adore them … until something goes wrong. The budget is off. You did the thing they taught you and now it’s all wrong. Or maybe they’re just in a bad mood because of the actual full moon. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the werewolf is gonna snap at you and foam at the mouth until this is over.

Protect Yourself: Lay low until their bark calms down.

The Ghost

In the immortal words of “Mean Girls,” they don’t even go here. Except they do, technically. The ghost boss is on the payroll, but they are always at a conference, a meeting or some other vaguely relevant work event. It’s great that your boss trusts you with a certain amount of autonomy and that they are out there promoting the company and learning — but what about when you have questions or need feedback? Do they have a backup to handle tasks while they are gone? Is there a chronic bottleneck that makes your job impossible?

Protect Yourself: Next time you see the ghost boss in the office, bust out your net and see if you can catch them. Ask for a weekly standing check-in call and put it on your calendars.

The Devil

The devil boss is sly. They are determined to stay on top, through any means necessary, and won’t bring anyone else along with him. They’ll tell you to your face that your contributions are great and then either trash them behind your back or take all the credit. They hoard information, ensuring no one else can surpass them. When something goes wrong, they’ll try and pass the blame. Be wary of this one.

Protect Yourself: Keep the receipts. You’ll want to have documentation when the attacks come your way. And consider looking for a new job. Anyone this manipulative isn’t above ruining your reputation. Leave before they get the chance.

Recognize any of these bad bosses in your team? (Maybe even in the mirror?) Contact us to turn things around.

Free Email Updates
Get the latest content first.

We respect your privacy.