Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Got a childish boss?

Difficult bosses may just be people who can’t manage their own inner child. 

If you have a problem manager, thinking about the person as small, like a toddler, might help you handle what comes your way.  Or, as author Lynn Taylor writes in her new book, “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant,” or TOT, you can learn how to manage childish boss behavior. 

Taylor not only compares difficult bosses to tiny tots, she gives them the acronym TOT for “terrible office tyrant.” She identifies 20 traits that tyrant bosses and toddlers have in common.

Among “bratty” behaviors are bragging, bullying, demanding, ignoring, impulsiveness, stubbornness, tantrums and territorialism.  She also cites the attributes of “little lost lambs”: endless questioning, fickleness, fearfulness, mood swings and short attention spans. 

Identifying behaviors as childish, she writes, is not intended to be boss-bashing or demeaning. Still, the comparison, while somewhat humorous, is a bit overdone. 

With examples of “Do This” and “Don’t Do This,” the book gives some helpful tips on what to say and how to say it. Taylor points out that too often employees say nothing and try to cope with the effects of a boss’s bad actions because they fear reprisals if they say something critical.  But that just makes matters worse. 

For example, if your TOT hovers or interrupts you frequently in the middle of important tasks, you need to set boundaries. The demanding TOT may be under pressure that is being pushed to you. 

Your TOT may not realize the time required for a task.  Clarifying mutually agreed-upon goals and deadlines may be the way to go. Most of all, don’t take critical comments or questions personally and keep a sense of humor.

Simply put, this is another book about managing up. Whether you view the boss as a lion to be tamed or a tot to be handled, the basic idea is understanding behaviors – including your own -- so you can deal with your boss. There is a Web site -- -- and blog for more TOT tips.

What kind of boss do you have?

Posted by Judith Welles on Jul 27, 2009 at 12:12 PM


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