HR Strange But True!
September 23, 2009

Everyone encounters “toxic” bosses, but in this economy, it's something people may just have to deal with. In the new book, Working for You Isn't Working for Me: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Boss (Portfolio, September 2009) , authors Katherine Crowley (a psychotherapist) and Kathi Elster (a business strategist) help you detect bad boss behaviors and--luckily--tell you how to reclaim control of the relationship regardless of your rank. Here are the 20 behaviors; your boss may have one--or all.

  1. Chronic Critic: finds fault with everything you do
  2. Rule Changer: keeps changing and rearranging what he or she originally decided
  3. Yeller: explodes without notice and says incriminating things about you
  4. Underminer: will set you up to fail
  5. “I'm Always Right”: needs to be considered infallible
  6. “You Threaten Me”: takes credit when it's not due
  7. Grandiose: can't see past his or her own ego
  8. Control Freak: micromanages uncontrollably
  9. Love-Struck: can't manage his or her own emotions
  10. Calculating Confident: has a hidden agenda
  11. Tell-All: makes you his or her captive audience
  12. Liar, Liar: can implicate you in his or her lies
  13. Sacred Cow: not going anywhere; if you challenge you will lose
  14. Checked Out: preoccupied with non-work-related matters
  15. Spineless: incapable of defending anyone
  16. Artful Dodger: afraid of tarnishing his or her perfect image
  17. Junior: many not value your experience
  18. Former Colleague: the balance of power has changed
  19. Unconscious Discriminator: unintentionally expresses bias
  20. Persecutor: targets and torments you

For more information, visit the authors' website at

If you can you think of more bad behaviors, the authors didn't include, send your suggestions to HR Strange but True! headquarters at If we get enough good ones, we'll include them in a future column.

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