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Bosses: A Field Guide

Bosses: A Field Guide

By Geoffrey James
Sales Machine Blogger

Let's face it: the office is a jungle.

Intrepid employees thus need a field guide to help them spot and identify the most powerful creature in the workplace: the boss.

Here are ten common examples of the species, along with care and feeding tips should you encounter a manager in the wild.

RELATED POSTS:
Office Nut Cases & How to Cope

The 6 Toxic Beliefs that Lousy Bosses Love

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Visionary

The Visionary

Characteristics: Creates a reality-distortion field that makes people believe the improbable. Commonly found in high-tech and biotech habitats.

Plumage: Nike Air Jordan 7 Retro running shoes

Archetype: Steve Jobs

Quote: "Seriously, this technology is going to change the world."

Pros: Can be highly inspirational, especially if you've got founder's stock.

Cons: Yells at people who don't share his vision 24/7.

Warning: You will not have a life.

Care and Feeding: Drink the Kool-Aid.  Once you decide that the career points are worth the long hours, throw yourself into the work as if your job is the only thing that matters.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Climber

The Climber

Characteristics: Desperately wants to get to the top.

Plumage: Armani Collezioni wool suit

Archetype: Nicolo Machiavelli

Quote: "Let's run that up the flagpole and see who salutes."

Pros: May create an opening for you if and when he's promoted.

Cons: You're nothing but a rung on his ladder to success.

Warning: Will dump you like a month-old mackerel if you make him look bad.

Care and Feeding: Make sure the boss knows you understand that your job is to make him look good.  Watch his back and feed him tidbits from the corporate grapevine.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Bureaucrat

The Bureaucrat

Characteristics: Believes the world would fall apart without rules and regulations. Found at government agencies, defense contractors and most Fortune 100 companies.

Plumage: White dress shirt, dark tie.

Archetype: Dilbert's PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss)

Quote: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Pros: Highly predictable and thus easy to manipulate.

Cons: Rendered totally ineffective by any major change in the business environment.

Warning: Can grind your creativity to dust.

Care and Feeding: Learn to love red tape. Keep all activities within the context of what's been done in the past, whether it worked or not. Document everything and share that documentation with everyone.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Propeller-Head

The Propeller-Head

Characteristics: Used to be a top-performing engineer.

Plumage: Casio CMD-40-1ZTER database calculator watch

Archetype: Bill Gates

Quote: "Dielectric interference will overload at 25nm...even with reticular imaging!"

Pros: Prefers to communicate entirely through email, thereby limiting contact.

Cons: Considers all non-engineers to be complete idiots.

Warning: Will quote "wisdom" from specific Star Trek episodes during business conversations.

Care and Feeding: Become an expert, preferably in some obscure and highly complicated technology that's absolutely crucial to the group's success.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Fogey

The Fogey

Characteristics: Been around since the days when secretaries had typewriters.

Plumage: Sports jacket with giant 1980's lapels.

Archetype: Peterman (Elaine's boss on "Seinfeld")

Quote: "I've got a lot of experience stored in my memory banks."

Pros: Easy going, especially if close to retirement.

Cons: Has hundreds of anecdotes.

Warning: You will be bored out of your mind.

Care and Feeding: Cultivate patience.  Smile and nod as if you're listening; use the extra time to daydream, plan your day, fantasize about coworkers.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Social Director

The Social Director

Characteristics: Thinks of the corporate environment as a "community of stakeholders." Most often spotted at non-profits and healthcare providers.

Plumage: Tie or scarf with a bright flowered print.

Archetype: Monica Geller-Bing (from "Friends")

Quote: "There's cake in the break-room!"

Pros: Pleasant and friendly.

Cons: Avoids discussions that might ruffle feathers.

Warning: May become cranky under pressure.

Care and Feeding: Build consensus.  Line up everyone on the team behind your agenda before bringing it to the boss.  Most importantly, be the person who brought the cake.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Dictator

The Dictator

Characteristics: Thinks that "empowerment" means empowering management to give orders.

Plumage: Military haircut.

Archetype: Darth Vader

Quote: "Because I'm the boss; that's why."

Pros: Has no problems making decisions.

Cons: Often makes the wrong decisions.

Warning: Will chew you up and spit you out.

Care and Feeding: Shut up and go back to work.  I'll let you know when I want to hear your opinion.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Hatchet Man

The Hatchet Man

Characteristics: Hired to downsize your organization.

Plumage: Rolex Daytona

Archetype: "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, former CEO of Sunbeam

Quote: "There is absolutely no truth to that layoff rumor."

Pros: Non.

Cons: Generally effective at what he's been hired to do.

Warning: You're in his crosshairs.

Care and Feeding: Update your resume.  Unless you work in human resources (which tends to grow during layoffs), chances are you're on the way out.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

The Lost Lamb

The Lost Lamb

Characteristics: Got over-promoted and now has no idea what to do.

Plumage: Dresses exactly like the employees being managed.

Archetype: Michael Scott (the boss on "The Office")

Quote: "I don't know.  What do you think?"

Pros: Will probably be demoted soon.

Cons: May remain in place if you help out too much.

Warning: Is often in denial of own ineffectiveness.

Care and Feeding: Do your own work, move your projects forward, get lip-service approval.  Sooner or later he'll go away.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Bosses: A Field Guide

Our Hero

Our Hero

Characteristics: Competent and knowledgeable yet easy to work with.

Plumage: Usually a variation of the "casual Friday" look

Archetype: Tom Hanks (in any role other than Forrest Gump)

Quote: "Tell me what you're thinking and let's come up with a solution."

Pros: Actually thinks that managers are supposed to make their employees successful.

Cons: Will probably get promoted and replaced.

Warning: Working for bad managers in the future will be even more painful.

Care and Feeding: Enjoy it while it lasts and do your best work.  If you make yourself indispensable, she might bring you along with she lands her next job or promotion.

RELATED POSTS:
Office Nut Cases & How to Cope

The 6 Toxic Beliefs that Lousy Bosses Love

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

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