back to article 10 Types of IT managers from hell

Your boss could well be a barely restrained psychopath. Indeed, it is probable that he is the living incarnation of Cthulhu himself. Or he may be a bumbling incompetent who'll sink your career along with his. You, the downtrodden techie, need to learn how to deal with him - and fast. First, stop thinking of him as a person …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge


    Notable in the opening few paragraphs is any mention of the female gender - although I have worked for three [ Edit: 4. Just remembered about my first IT vacation job while at university ], and more if you count "dotted lines", women in the past. Although some of them still fit into the descriptions offered.

    However, my favourite worst boss was The Twister.

    Whatever you said to him (and this one was a bloke) would be twisted into an unrecognisable statement and then thrown back at you. For example: "We've been delayed because the delivery from the suppliers hasn't turned up". becomes "So what you're telling me is that you failed to manage a third party who was critical to the project?".

    It became so bad that we (the team) were only prepared to communicate with him via email, so there was written proof of what had been said. Obviously it slowed things down, but sometime keeping your arse covered is the overriding factor - and getting any work done comes in a distant second.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AhIm

      Project managers not in our line often fitted into that category. We used to set our boss on them. He was excellent at Business Poker, and had a good track record of assassination, as well as the ear of some *really* senior people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AhIm

      Agree on the gender topic.

      I know this isn't The Guardian, but it IS possible to overdo him/he when they/them will make it seem less like we're reading the Daily Mail.

      Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral language in responses in the past - so I'm more aware of this now than I used to be.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: "Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral"...

        Probably because she was a dick?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AhIm

        Different folks, different strokes. If I see anything as grammatically ugly as the use of "they" when "he" has been used in the case of indeterminate gender for 100s of years I tend to close the window. People who label such things as misogynistic dilute real issues.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: AhIm

          "has been used in the case of indeterminate gender for 100s of years"

          And had thee been writing hundreds of years ago, we wouldn't have a problem with thine attitude, but language changes so thou wilst just have to "suck it up".

        2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

          Pronoun trouble.

          Anonymous Coward of 16:38 GMT, both singular they and epicene he have been used in English to refer to someone of indeterminate sex for at least five centuries. Like you, I prefer epicene he, but singular they is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Do you really stop reading something purely on the basis of finding the writer’s choice of pronoun “ugly”?

          1. BillG

            Re: Pronoun trouble.

            Always remember that the purpose of HR is to protect the managers from the employees. So in any disagreement with management that goes in front of HR, when you're wrong you're wrong, and when you're right you're REALLY wrong.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: AhIm

        "Our company has actually lost work because we didn't use enough gender neutral language in responses in the past - so I'm more aware of this now than I used to be."

        "Gender neutral language."

        That would be things like "We, they, it, the," and of course "a" instead of he/she.

        Note MS Word (being American) flags this as too "passive."

        I keep expecting it to scream. "WHAT ARE YOU? YOU GOT TO BE A MAN ABOUT THIS" (and show a hand-slapping-face icon).

        Challenging stuff, this English, is it not?

      4. Why Not?

        Re: AhIm

        Let me guess you renamed 'Chairman' to be 'Chair' or 'Chairperson' in your business?


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AhIm

      Dealing with a recalcitrant third party just now. I'd drop them if I had any say in it. But I'm just the dev trying to make it all work, so my opinion doesn't count.

      I also know the "boss" for this will take all the credit and the sales drones get the rewards. Despite me having to work unpaid overtime to deliver.

      Job might be shitty at times, but at least it's a job and this isn't a good economy in which to spit one's dummy and try to find a new position. And certainty not at my age (over 40). This is the last job I will ever work...depressing.

    4. BillG

      Re: AhIm

      In general, the most dangerous manager is the Charismatic Incompetent. These people are charming and leave a wake of destruction in their path. They never get blamed because hey, everyone LIKES him so much!

      Among German managers I've seen Your Problems are Your Fault & My Problems are Your Fault. At Siemens we had one of those managers screw up a group. When things go so bad HR got involved and their interrogation of staff consisted of accusing staff of not reminding this manager to do his (the manager's) work! Including work staff had no knowledge this manager was supposed to be doing!

      Then there is the Seagull CEO. They fly in and soon hire their buddies to flock around them. After they have shit on everything they fly away to shit on some other company.

  2. Ruairi
    Thumb Up

    Where were your articles when I was in my 20's? I've encountered every type of boss listed. Actually, sometimes, multiple types in the same person.

    Excellent article, as always. Look forward to the next.

  3. Ralph B

    Not a BOFH's guide

    A BOFH's guide, eh?

    If I was Simon Travaglia I'd be pretty pissed of with the use of "BOFH" in the sub-heading of this article.

    And if I was the person responsible for writing that sub-heading, I'd now be pretty nervous of coming to a sticky end in a darkened server room / crashing lift / under a falling fire-safe / etc.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Not a BOFH's guide

      "A BOFH's guide, eh?"


      Sadly, no discussion of the acceptable use of a cattle prod in "Management discussions."

    2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: Not a BOFH's guide

      I did not make any mention of the BOFH for that very reason, although by day I am a famous headhunter n global financial markets, as a Reg Freelancer I am less than nothing and my text can be altered by editors, sub-editors and people editors meet in pubs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Crédit stealing is one thing, but these guys also scapegoat, and that's when things get really nasty. If you find yourself working for a Type 7, watch your back and cover your arse.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: #7

      Yup, I too was expecting the Credit Thief to also be described as the Scapegoater.

      Worked for one of these. He would make sure everyone knew how good a manager he was when my colleagues and I managed to turn around a project that his consultant friends had ballsed up. However, when the brown stuff hit the fan after a failed database upgrade, he disclaimed all knowledge of it. That resulted in a phone call from a deeply unpleasant company director who called me every rude name under the sun, one of our contractors walking out in disgust and a case of constructive dismissal.

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    1980s video games taught me to equate 'Boss' with 'Big Baddie", to be shot, bombed, round-house kicked or shurikened as appropriate.

    Luckily, I have come to realise that isn't always true.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      No, you forgot missiled and sliced up with a large sword ;)

  6. hammarbtyp

    10 Types of bosses

    Old joke - There are 10 types of bosses, those who understand this joke and those who don't.

    Seriously there are 2 types of bosses in a large company. Those who concern themselves with their underlings well being and do their best to be a facilitator rather than a dictator, and the other sort who only concern themselves with pleasing their superiors. If you have the former, count yourself lucky. If you have the latter, well commiserations, just hope their desire for promotion is fulfilled soon.

    In small companies there is a particular type of boss who should always avoid. The ones who think because they own the company, you, your life, and your families life are play things for their amusement. They will dangle the promise of share options in front of you while demanding you work 20 weekends in a row, but somehow those promises will never come to fruition. At the same time they will play off colleagues against each other to ensure that their power is never seriously questioned.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: 10 Types of bosses

      This year marks the 500th anniversary of the very first management handbook: The Prince by Machiavelli. Even if you don't want to be a boss, yourself: it's worth a read (and it has the added benefit of not being very long). That way you can identify the traits as described by an expert and wonder in the realisation that in the past half-millenium, nothing much has changed. With the possible exception of no longer being able to do away with your opponents.

      1. Grahame 2

        Re: 10 Types of bosses

        Not sure if The Prince has claim to be the first, I have had a few bosses rather fond of a management guide written around 512BC by some Chinese dude called Sun Tzu.

        They tended to be mainly type 5/9/10 bosses, so I guess they did not take a lot of it in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 10 Types of bosses

          Sun Tzu never existed. Given the period it was supposed to be from, the farming methods and other features described are all wrong. This was all down to a fashion in China for presenting "ancient truths" and such. So the whole Sun Tzu mythos was just branding.

          Still a good read though, but I find so many people miss the point despite "Sun Tzu" driving it home. The best general fights no wars. They didn't say "The best general is a meglomaniacal berk who treats his troops worse than dirt".

          Also, business managers should not equate themselves overly much with great generals. If you are a good manager, others will do that for you.

          Especially if you lead by example. Something our bosses, MPs and civil servants should all learn.

    2. Jim 59

      Re: 10 Types of bosses

      @ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: 10 Types of bosses

        @ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded.

        What drivel, who said anything about "publicly traded" shares? Share options can be had in any company where the ownership of the company is vested in shares, typically they are used to allow new equity investment or to provide an equity share.

        For instance, Jim and Bob own a catering company, Jim has 50 shares, Bob has 50 shares. They have an employee, Phil, who is so essential to the business that Jim and Bob create an extra 20 shares, and grant an option to Phil that he can buy the shares for £20,000. This is a share option - if Phil executes the option, he will own 1/6th of the company, and Jim and Bob will own 5/12ths each.

        hammarbtyp is describing a situation where Jim and Bob keep telling Phil that "you are so essential, we're going to have to see about getting you some equity", without actually doing shit. It happens all the time.

        1. hammarbtyp

          Re: 10 Types of bosses

          That's it pretty well. Small companies often promise jam tomorrow to make up for lousy hours, conditions, and pay.

          They often hint of great riches as the company grows a la Microsoft, Google etc. However what is more likely to happen especially if the company is bought out by some big firm is the owner will take the money and run. Even if it is written in the contract it is not unknown for employees to be sacked for frivolous reasons days before the takeover.

          I have only been sacked once in my life and that was at a small company(8 people). The reasons given by my psychopathic boss was not standing my round at a company jolly and passing wind in the office . The real reason was refusing to work unpaid weekend for the 10th weekend in a row for personal reasons.

          Fortunately I had already seen the writing on the wall. My only regret was I was sacked a day before I was going to resign anyway

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: 10 Types of bosses

        "@ hammarbtyp that "small company" must have been quite big. Small companies don't have share options and are not publicly traded."

        Start ups do.

      3. Moving Pictures

        Re: 10 Types of bosses

        'merkin companies often do have shares on offer for employees. On offer... I never said anybody qualified.

    3. Fatman

      Re: 10 Types of bosses

      They will dangle the promise of share options in front of you while demanding you work 20 weekends in a row, but somehow those promises will never come to fruition.

      I have heard that shit before!!

  7. 45RPM Silver badge

    Yup. That's me.

    All of them. Now quit shirking and GET BACK TO WORK!


    1. Crisp

      Re: Yup. That's me.

      I am at work.

      My code's compiling.

      1. Ian Yates
        Thumb Up

        Re: Yup. That's me.

        I used that very excuse yesterday... and got away with it!

      2. DJV Silver badge
        Thumb Up


        Ah, thanks - reminds me of this.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "I wonder if my programs ever compile."

          You hope no one who thinks like this could ever manage someone in IT.

          But somehow......

      3. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Yup. That's me.

        "My code's compiling."

        Then go find other code to write, peasant.

        1. Fatman

          Re: Then go find other code to write, peasant.

          If you happen to wander through the "Tank" (over at CW), you might hear from "Jim The Boss":

          Get yore lazy assk back to wrok!

    2. The Axe

      Re: Yup. That's me.

      I'm multitasking. I'm waiting for a test to finish and reading about stuff in the IT world and keeping abreast of it. I've put down reading El Reg in my training folder as proof.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep it simple

    I work for small companies, the smaller the better. You get more interesting projects and less managers (more workers). In my previous job the small company went through a rapid expansion of no middle managers to 5. I dont know how bad the managers were for the other departments but they seemed ok and looked to be pulling their weight. However I got the dud. I got a guy who knew nothing but didnt know it. He was highly risk averse including running a few (less than 50) inserts into a production database which alone would have no visible effect.

    He had to go to meetings which he would call me up on the break to ask me the questions he was asked. I did ask if it would be quicker to just put me in the meeting as I was the only one in the IT dept and the only one who knew any answers.

    The worst part was how agreeable he was. He agreed with everything I said concerning what we can do and what needs to be done, then agree with everything the director said although it was a complete 180. In the end I got sick of doing nothing because communication took so long (me to him to director. Director to him to me. Rinse and repeat) that I left. Hearing from previous co-workers he hired 3 people to replace me and they still overshot their deadlines by many months.

    I couldnt hide a degree of pleasure when he was grovelling for me to stay but I couldnt get any work done under that guy. Even offering me a substantial raise (I doubt the director would have parted with) I couldnt stay in those conditions. And I couldnt be happier. Another small company with very little management

    1. LazyLazyman

      Re: Keep it simple

      Small companies however can have problems of there own. You are far more open to the whims of managers/owners. Open to abuse by people who decide they don't like you. They often have no set processes for training, complaints management etc. No guidelines or comeback. Small companies are no better or worse than large ones, they just have different problems IMO.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Keep it simple

      Know what you mean! However, I am now glad that I am in a very small "company" with a brilliant (ahem) boss - it consists of:

      1) Me

      End of list.

    3. Fatman

      Re: Keep it simple

      Another small company with very little management infected by damagement.


  9. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    And for your next trick ...

    Can we look forward to the ten worst organisational cultures? (And how the ten worst boss types fit into them?) Psychopathic bosses seemingly on day release from a supposedly secure hospital, who treat every mistake as deliberate sabotage, and resent paying you aything for the privilige of funding their 'Grand Designs' mansion and Jaguar / Porshce habit, create a whole company culture.

    And why not, after all they are the ones who started the company with their own initiative, took the risk, and there you are, working for them, who are celarly the sole wealth creators and they don't understand why you don't have the same dedication to the company as them.

    The company culture cold be summed up in the following commandment:

    "Make sure you have someone else to blame."

    Yes, I really have worked for people like that.

    1. jason 7

      Re: And for your next trick ...

      How about....'The Triple Decker'?

      That's when in your office you have your manager, his Head of... and the Director of... all sitting within 30 feet of one another.

      Nothing like three different decisions/opinions/strategies to work around to help a project along.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: And for your next trick ...

        I have a variant, my boss is in one of our overseas offices, but his boss (and one of the company directors) is in the office next to my desk (I'm too much of a humble minion to warrant a boss-box).

        It can actually work to advantage though, for both playing one off against the other or just cutting out the middle man/pre-arranging how the response downward to your boss will be from his boss.

      2. Raedwald Bretwalda

        Re: And for your next trick ...

        "Nothing like three different decisions/opinions/strategies to work around to help a project along."

        Can be handled, I'm told, by taking the line that only your immediate boss can give you orders, regardless of how senior they are, and that everyone else must go through them.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: And for your next trick ...

          "Can be handled, I'm told, by taking the line that only your immediate boss can give you orders, regardless of how senior they are, and that everyone else must go through them."


          It's called a "Chain of command." It's a notion that seems out of place in the world of matrix and "flat" management.

          I'd also suggest making it clear that if someone wants you to know something they explicitly tell you.

          This avoids the old "I thought you knew" BS that some nappies managers indulge in.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      "Make sure you have someone else to blame."

      Isn't that just standard practice these days?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And for your next trick ...

      We have a thing at my place called 'Blame storming'.

      The managers seem to be quite effective at it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mine was a treacherous Scouse sleaze who knifed me in the back after 10 years to protect his own ass. I'll never be stupid enough to trust a "friend" again.

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    There is another type

    One of the best bosses I ever had was the one who realised I would just get on and do the work that was needed to be done once I'd settled in. He did have a problem with organising meetings but I had a laptop so I could still get some work done.

    I think the main reason he was so hands off was he had his hands deep in the till but it was nice to be a manager level programmer without being a manager - or paid for it!

    The only problem is that once you've done it nothing else will do - not even for the money!

  12. P0l0nium

    I recognise most of these, in fact I WAS one.

    In defence of managers: someone's got to do it... Are they born evil, or are they made evil?

    Or are only the evil promoted?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      No, often it's the incompetent are promoted. Usually to get them away from the customer side and to put someone useful in between who can filter things and pre-emptively repair much of the damage before it's done.

      I guess it's to balance the competent ones who do get promoted and then are unable to spend any time doing the stuff that they're competent at as they now have so much administrivia to do first...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I can attest...

        to that.

        along with 15 others. We all put a complaint out against a colleague, who treated us like dirt and dropped their responsibilities when asked to carry them out. The result? They got promoted and made a supervisor to not just the team, but the whole department.

  13. jason 7

    I had one complain to my face.....

    ...that I was 'too low maintenance!"'


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had one complain to my face.....

      I had one complain that I never asked for anything without proper justification, which made the other departmental manager he controlled, who was his pet, look bad. This was where the excellent management training I got at my previous company came in useful.

      I outlasted both of them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had one complain to my face.....


      If I got a penny for every illogical and impossible statement management give, I'd be rich.

      The best was "swap your two one hour diary bookings around so you'll finish an hour earlier". I just walked out and left the two managers (line and assistant dept) to argue over which order would bring the greatest savings in time. Yep, two bookings in my diary, 1 hour each (and unable to finish either early), both at the same location. Somehow I did not have the heart to tell them 1+1=2 no matter the ordering of 1s...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have the "I let the team handle it" boss. Mayor issue is that the team, how small it is do have very different ideas on how to solve common problems. As you might in vision, one part of the team is from the top side of the world. The other part of the team is from the bottom side of the world.

    Second problem with this bloke is that he always tells,half of the story and depending of the people he talk to he only talks about the part that benefits him.

    God help me...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the Know nothing, know it all boss.

    I have come across a few of these in my time. The boss who you ask a simple question to, and because they don't know what they are doing has to go though the whole process/subject, in full, often without giving the answer, and then looks down on you thinking you don't know what you are doing because you asked him, who supposedly knows more than you, for clarification on one point but he thinks you don't know anything because he had to go through it all.

  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Instead talk to this prat and “discover” a new problem that takes longer each time he asks. Or you can actively tell him how things are going, using the message passing design pattern to mediate his non-maskable interruptions.

    Personally I find the response "do you want me to take time to talk about fixing the problem or just get on and actually do it?" or something along those lines (with more or less tact, depending on who you're talking too and how pissed off you are) usually works.

    It's a good antithesis to those who like to have meetings about issues rather than fixing them (to make themselves look important and/or to cover the fact that they need to be seen to be giving input on an issue that they have no clue about).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear. Narrow escape a short while ago - CEO was borderline sociopath with a 5k/month bolivian marching powder affinity, heading a £10+ million org. Within 2 years ALL IT and comms staff gone. All devs were "making it complicated to protect their positions.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, there are a couple more types

    The first is the expert. Like a lot of your target audience, they really do know their stuff...and won't stop doing it, to the detriment of their real job. I've found escalating to their boss the only way of getting them back into line, but this doesn't always work if they are valued greatly and have an insane work ethic. You could always suggest they read some Norman Dixon..anonymously, of course!

    The second is the token. A lot of people assume this means female or ethnic minority, but that's not always the case, since everything from sympathy and giving a M&A victim a "fair go" can be used to justify putting an idiot or arch manipulator in charge, and then refusing to move them even after the evidence piles up they are rubbish. To be honest, I've not found a way around this one other than leaving :-(

    1. MonkeyCee

      Re: Actually, there are a couple more types

      I thought the way to deal with the expert is to let them be paid (and have rank) of management, but just delegate all actual management tasks that are not directly in their expert role to someone else. Call them a compliance manager or something.

      If they are mission critical, just move them off the org chart, and add them as an asset ;)

      Tokens are morons shurly :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually, there are a couple more types

        Unfortunately, tokens are morons who's faults are well known by all, but who have a "roof" in the form of a higher manager who keeps them in position. When the roof goes, the token rapidly follows...

  19. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Selective Fact Finder

    You've also left out the Selective Fact Finder, one of the worst I've ever worked with.

    "Hi Von Krakenfart, have you completed X yet?" where X = Selective Fact Finder's latest brain fart

    " Eh No, it's coded but we haven' released it yet as we've had to roll out several critical service packs to all the servers" We were also trying to fix a bug in code Selective Fact Finder wrote 20 years ago that didn't handle century leap years correctly but you don't dare highlight Selective Fact Finder failings.

    Selective Fact Finder then goes to the managers meeting and wants to know what the IT people are doing because project X hasn't been finished.

    And HR used to wonder why staff turnover in IT was so high.

    Mine's the one with the updated CV in the pocket.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Battler

    Always looking for an argument. Doesn't matter if its someone on their team, above, below, outside.

    Only rage gets them out of bed.

  21. i like crisps

    You missed number eleven....

    ....#11: Matt Berry...won't be able to fix or patch him.

  22. Getriebe

    Ahem, as a boss ...

    I can see most of the examples in my colleagues. I am of course above reproach!

    Without going into long explanations I see my role as empowering the people who work for me, (and for the person who down voted me when I said that before I mean enable them to do their job and a bit more), setting goals and communicating what the overall plan and objective is. Take of that what you will

    But in return I want people to communicate with me. Tell me if you have a problem and help me work out a solution. Do it in good time and not when its impossible to mitigate

    And then next - work with me with new ideas - not mumble about them with your colleagues and force me to decode them.

    Two way communication is what its about.

    And in return for the barrow loads of wonga - I take the fall.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

      Umm... who let the bosses in on this message board? It's not fun talking about them when they are actually reading our comments.

    2. TitterYeNot

      Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

      Sorry, I switched off after seeing 'empowering', 'enable', 'goals' and 'overall plan' in the same sentence.

      Mine's the one with the bullshit bingo card in the pocket...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

        empowering', 'enable', 'goals' and 'overall plan'

        Good bosses know what they mean and use them correctly. My finest example of "enable" was when the company president listened to our pitch carefully, then said "Spend the money, do the job and I will fix the beancounters". "Goals" means "We will know this project is successful when [list of definite items]".

        Bad bosses use management terminology as a way to obfuscate, e.g. "Delivering best value" - sacking people, "involving stakeholders" - "send out an email every quarter bitching about what hasn't happened".

      2. Getriebe

        Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

        "Sorry, I switched off after seeing 'empowering', 'enable', 'goals' and 'overall plan' in the same sentence."

        Good post A+, would read again!

        OK, dullard, if you were running an operation that was producting say 50 million of revenues a year and you had to sum up your style in a paragraph - what would you put?

        Obviously I will watch and learn.

        1. Rukario

          Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

          Producting... is that another one of those invented manglement buzzwords?

    3. LazyLazyman

      Re: Ahem, as a boss ...

      Too true. I think we need the same sort of thing but from a managers point of view. Staff can be just as much of a PITA as management, but as a manager it is part of your job to deal with that. Doesn't stop the moaner who complains about you, takes every attempt to undermine you and upset the rest of the team but will sit and smile and nod when asked directly if there are any problems being less of a PITA.

  23. jason 7

    There is the "Uesless So Promote Them Boss"

    We had this a lot at our company.

    If you had a useless clerical person, you couldn't sack them (also wasn't worth the effort) so the best way to get rid of them was to 'promote them out' to another department. "Congratulations! Bye Bye! Ding dong the witch is dead!"

    However, this kept happening over and over so by the time I left, we had people that had zero social skills, couldn't count to ten, manage their way out of a paper bag etc. now at Head of or Director level.

    The other problem was they thought they were gods as their rise had been so meteoric. Unfortunately, we were all in on the joke.

    So if you've reached a high senior level, just think back how regular your promotions have been and whether any of your previous colleagues actually bother to keep in touch or walk the other way when they see you. If so then you may be one of them and everyone else knows.

    Kind of where good employments rights can bite you hard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is the "Uesless So Promote Them Boss"

      Nothing to do with good employment rights and everything to do with poor managers who won't deal with poor performance, if this really was the reason. Sounds like more than a twinge of resentment colouring your view...

  24. BigAndos
    Thumb Up

    I do like Dominic's articles, the cynicism is strong with this one!

    I've experienced a lot of different company cultures and sizes as a consultant, and it never ceases to amaze me all the problems and drama that can arise from a bunch of people turning up to a building to earn some money to buy food. The amount of personal stress a bad manager can cause just because they have a need to satisfy their ego is truly astonishing.

    1. jason 7

      Well you can add the boss 'that thinks we are all here to work for the good and greatness of the company!'

      Rather then we just turn up begrudgingly because it pays for the mortgage and food.

  25. Jim 59

    Team Leader

    Yes one type of boss not mentioned in the poor old "team leader". TLs are a layer of employee devised by management to avoid contact with workers. The TL essentially does the unpleasant and hard bits of his manager's job. That is, dealing with the team, their issues, performance reviews etc.

    The TL gets endless pressure from above, and complaints/issues from below. He/she has no real power, no budget, not decision making input, and is paid as a team member. Team members become TLs because it seems a stepping stone to management. No. Never. When a management slot opens, an outside candidate is invariably chosen. The TL is not even interviewed. Few TL posts are advertised on job sites because no candidate would apply.

    In better companies the team leader is in fact a full manager. With the power to both command his team and influence their futures for the better.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Team Leader

      Well, your Team Leader isn't a type of problem boss, except for himself. What to do in that situation... stop? Explain that "Team Leader" is a rotating post and someone else should take their turn now?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Team Leader

        I can empathise (the last two words in my job title are "group leader"). It always brings to mind the cartoon of the "birds on a telegraph pole" management flow-chart (the link below).

        The good old TL is in the middle - when they look down all they see is shit, and when they look up all they see are arseholes...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is the 'You don't want to be a Manager?' type

    The one who thinks that everyone should become a manager so when you tell him that 'no I don't want to be one. I'm happy being a <insert non mgt position here>'

    Then he gives you a crap review stating 'xxx has no ambition' thus triggering no pay rise.

    You do have an ambition but is clearly does not involve becoming a manager.

  27. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Garbage in Garbage Out

    The worse one is Garbage in, Gospel out.

    Something that has been "working" for a while, but either had a subtle bug in it or had one introduced on a later update which screwed up the output. Then it's not only the need to fix it, but the need to actually persuade the client that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The old "it worked before" or "it's part of our established structure so we can't change it" scenario coming into play.

    You then of course get the illogical evolution of that, where they recognise things need to be fixed but won't allow you to change anything. Hence the twin needs in your problem solving toolbox of a magic wand and a rather large lump hammer...

  28. Ian 55

    I hadn't noticed Dominic's idiosyncratic habit before. (one of them anyway.)

    Finishing a sentence with a full stop. (then carrying on in parentheses without starting with a capital letter.)

    There are two examples on the first page. (count them.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hadn't noticed Dominic's idiosyncratic habit before. (one of them anyway.)

      Wow. Are they me?! Thought I was the only one poorly written enough to do that. :P

    2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: I hadn't noticed Dominic's idiosyncratic habit before. (one of them anyway.)

      Although I'm a City headhunter, most of my life has been writing C++ code and before that, C. Thus what you read started off in my head as a mix of #define's and VC++ v4 expanded template code, as a CompSci grad I also thought in terms of closures before C++ supported them

      Thus the highly personal use of brackets serves several purposes, but most commonly coercion where the semantics of a code fragment / sentence is wantonly changed from one type to another.

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "barely restrained psychopath"

    A contradiction in terms surely?

    For a nice example of the breed I suggest "The Company of Men."

  30. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I think

    you missed one

    "The seagull"

    This is a rare sighting, but all too common, the more correct technical name for this type of manager is the ADHD manager.

    This type is entirely driven by customer demands regardless of whether his decisions make any rational sense, or indeed, any sense at all.

    For example, Customer A has a regular order for 1000 parts that make the company £10 each, Customer B orders 10 parts at a time every other day and complains when they dont appear at the loading dock at 9am the next day, Customer C orders 60 parts a week come rain, shine, or the last judgement.

    Each of them phones the ADHD manager in turn demanding parts...... so that manager instantly runs downstairs after customer A has rung and stops everything to do their job, customer B rings 30 mins later and the orders all change, customer C rings 40 mins later and its all change again.

    1hr later and the ADHD manager is flapping all over the place trying to figure why nothing has gone out of the door today, or why nothing has been made and the remaining staff are using the company internet to look up mail order AK-47s

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: I think

      Around here, that type of manager has an alternative definition.

      Usually one of the higher-ups from the overseas or corporate head-offices who flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits on everything, pecks at a few things at random (often rather viciously) and then flies off again leaving chaos in their wake.

      Sadly they're not so rare...

  31. Johan Bastiaansen

    Please explain to me

    why I should pamper a dysfunctional boss?

    Why should I line his pockets, stroke his ego AND take his abuse? What's in it for me?

    1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: Please explain to me

      Money, sanity, keeping your job.

  32. Lost In Clouds of Data

    Missed out the 'Incompatible Operating System' Antimanager.

    We had one of them. The moment she (begrudgingly) took us lot on board, she did her damnedest to bad mouth us.

    That of course led to a quandary once it was time for her to move on - she'd done such a successful job at convincing everyone else that we were gawd-awful that no other manager would dare take us on.

    Solution: She outsourced the entire feckin' department.

    20 people lost their jobs, she got a promotion. What a bitch....

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was the "everyone's equal" manager / supervisor

    had a good team but one thickey who socialised with the director, so when I treated her according to her experience (which was nil) and gave the experienced employees more lee-way, I got accused of having "personal issues" with her, so had to treat everybody the same (lowest common denominator). Complete team cycled out in 18 months, including me. She's current doing SAP somewhere (god help them).

  34. ammabamma

    Saw this somewhere on the innertubes a while back...

    The absolute worst boss is someone who, as pieces of your soul and life fall silently away, makes you feel good about your job shoveling crap.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even before you start you can make this error...

    So, chatting with the business tutor... Says they got trouble with the email...

    "Yes, before we get to that, can you see the problem with the email you sent me".

    Reads email.

    "No, the whole email."

    "That is it." comes the reply.

    "But below it, the advert."

    "Yes I use that software." they reply.

    "But what does it do? Why is your business advertising another companies product? What if it contains a virus (me knowing that this is malware at worse, snake oil at best). Do you want to give that kind of image to your clients".

    "Quite frankly, with the kind of clients I have, I don't care."

    Me knowing I'm one of their clients, do not give a reply...

    Lesson learned. Be more tactful when dealing with professional clients in the future, as it's not easy to point out mistakes. No one wishes to hear of them.

    I'll concentrate on offering a service of giving the customer what they ask for, what they want, and when their in real trouble what they need. All the while being polite and helpful, even if it means helping them trash their own pc. :P

    Anon, for obvious reasons.

  36. s. pam

    I've had 12 bosses in last 9years

    And I've had multiple instances of the 10 subhuman examples you've shown, and an 11th.

    The EX-Management consultant


    This piece of shite typically shows up from high-price consulting firms after (seemingly) getting the dirt on some douchbag in your upper management. Inept at everything, quick to blame/fire/explode in fits of anger, this piece of shite will either lead to HR firing him, or HR trying to keep all his employees from resigning. This particular cretin is easily identifiable by the trail of tears, disillusionment at staff meetings, and the staff behaving as if "daddy will beat me real bad if I say anything" cowering in the corner.

  37. HippyFreetard

    Manager vs Boss

    Manager: A thing or person that manages.

    Boss: Lump of metal on a shield for bashing people with.

    Everybody who thinks of themselves as a boss should be fired. Now. Everybody who thinks of themselves as a manager needs edumacated (well, most. I've had (and been) both good and bad managers).

    The role of a manager is to make it easier for the pro's to get on with their work. Anything else is bullshit*.


    *okay, your manager might have other jobs to do, but eg. sealing a project deal is marketing, not management ;)

  38. Steven Holmquist

    They missed one.

    The Absolute Douchebag

    My former boss tried to start his relationship with me from a position of power. It was our first face-to-face meeting and my yearly review. I had also requested a salary review. The meeting started out with him saying that he'd never worked for a company that had a full time web developer. He felt it was a waste of money and was a job better out-sourced than kept in-house. Then spent the next hour telling me that I was better off quitting, could make three times going elsewhere, and to do myself a favor by just leaving. From there he did his best to make me look like I was incompetent by editing my code on a project after I had gone home. Then trash talked me to the executive committee whenever given the chance.

    And yet, when one of our sites fell under attack, my code and my security precautions prevented any damage or access. While I was praised by the executive committee, he said I just got lucky. Even after I gave my notice, moved on to a new job, he had the nerve to call me to see if I'd be willing to do contract work for him.

    His "IT" experience was a collection of buzz words, redirection, and bullshit. He never showed any actual knowledge, and even a simple google search could be used to disprove his "claims".

    Lets face it, sometimes an person can bluff their way into a position, and if they bounce around enough can pass themselves off as knowledgeable.

  39. Fatman

    RE: 10 bad bosses.

    He is a defective component in your system – and you know how to deal with them.

    For a computer, you would remove the bad part, and toss it into the trash

    With a defective manager, you convince him (or her) to pull the ejector handle on their career, or if you have the connections, pull it for them.

    My favorite manglement career advancement tool is a trebuchet, with me jerking the chain.

  40. Mr. Peterson

    interesting timing, this article

    "The previous year Chicago magazine ranked him as the city's second-meanest person, and he complained about not being No. 1. (That was Michael Jordan.)"

  41. Potemkine Silver badge

    "I liked VB6"

    ... and then all credibility vanishes

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: "I liked VB6"

      @ Potemkine

      "... and then all credibility vanishes"

      I never quite understood this commonly held view. Obviously you could do things quick and easy in VB with a lot less code but it really seemed to take a beating for being good. You could get as deep into it as you wanted and produce working software with fewer bugs pretty quickly. I say that without knocking other languages, they all have their strong points and their downfalls.

      Also VB was event driven. As far as I know VB was the only truely event driven programming language out at the time, a concept being emulated for other languages. A whole raft of emulation or coding was already done for the programmer. The rich set of features saved hours of coding and testing for many. Yet still people dislike VB.

      As I said I never understood the problem.

    2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: "I liked VB6"

      If you think that being a City Headhunter could have any less credibility in the comparison of languages you are sadly mistaken.

  42. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    An apology from the writer of this article

    This damned article hit 4,500 words, far more than it was supposed to be and had to be viciously chopped to fit, so several types of AntiManager were missed out, but I'm sure some of you can add to my list.

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