EM|Pre-Int|2. Bad bosses and how to deal with them


Being a boss is surely not easy. Not all bosses have the necessary qualities for their position. The challenges bosses face might be tough. There are different signs that your boss is not a good one, and things need to be improved. Take this test to find out if this is the case with your boss. Or maybe, you’d like to take this test for yourself.

Answer the questions and find out if you have a good or a bad boss


Whether you have a good or a bad boss, you need to be prepared for anything. Things may change, but if you realize the faults of your boss, you can deal with them more effectively. According to different signs of bad bosses, they can belong to different types. There are many of them. Let’s have a look at just 5 types of toxic bosses.

Note: there are some words in the text that you might not know — try to guess their meaning from the context. You can check the definitions of some of these words after the text in the Click here to see new words section or use a dictionary.

Read the text and choose the correct type of boss for each characteristic

5 Types of Toxic Bosses

Throughout your career, you are going to deal with different people. Let’s be honest, not all of your colleagues will be competent and pleasant people. And, it might be even worse to have a bad boss. Toxic bosses can make the work that you actually love horrible.

All bad bosses can be divided into different types. When you know the type of your boss, it’s easier to neutralize them.

The Workaholic

Hard work is a way to success, and a lot of successful people are actually workaholics. So workaholics are common among managers. They work very long hours themselves and can’t understand that their employees might have different views on work-life balance.

The Tyrant

It is usually pretty easy to spot this kind of boss. Tyrants think only about their power and are afraid that employees may take it away. They believe they always make the right decisions and they are not open to any ideas. Instead of working in a team, the tyrant prefers to show they are the main person there. Seeing valuable employees as competitors, tyrants push them away.

The Micromanager

The micromanager controls every little step you take. They give exact instructions on what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, so it’s impossible to take any initiative and work independently. Besides, the micromanager is seldom happy with the result of work and will always find faults: the wrong color of ink you used to write a note, for example. They would waste their time to teach you something that you already know and make you perform unnecessary tasks, and the productivity goes down. Working under such a boss is surely frustrating, but unfortunately, this type is rather common.

The Bully

Bullies are usually not just toxic bosses, they are indeed toxic people who behave aggressively to get what they need. Nothing stops them: they can scream and shout, openly embarrass their employees, make fun of them and insult. They just like to make others unhappy. At the same time, they are often insecure deep inside.

The Inappropriate Buddy

This type of boss is too friendly — they really try to become your best friend. They invite you for a drink together after work, talk about the others behind their back. Inappropriate buddies use their authority to make friends. They choose favorites and delegate best tasks to them, thus dividing the team. If you don’t want to mix work and friendship, this type of boss might put you in a difficult situation as you’ll be afraid to make them angry and do harm to your career.


  • competent /ˈkɑːm.pə.t̬ənt/ — qualified to do something well
  • an initiative /ɪˈnɪʃ.ə.t̬ɪv/ — a plan or activity that is done to improve a situation or to solve a problem
  • to embarrass /ɪmˈber.əs/ — to make somebody feel shy, awkward or ashamed, especially in a social situation
  • to insult /ɪnˈsʌlt/ — to say or do something that offends somebody
  • insecure /ˌɪn.səˈkjʊr/ — lacking self-confidence or assurance
  • productivity /ˌproʊ.dəkˈtɪv.ə.t̬i/ — the quality of being productive or having the power to produce

Of course, everyone would like to work with great bosses and take them as role models. But bad bosses can also teach us something important: they make us become more flexible and adapt to different situations. Quitting the job is not the only solution. Let’s think about what else we can do if we have to deal with a toxic boss.

Think of the tips you can give for dealing with each type of toxic bosses. Write them down

Move to the next step to compare your ideas with the tips given by different employees.


Working with bad bosses is hard, but we shouldn’t let bad experiences ruin us. On the contrary, we have to become stronger and more flexible. Let’s read about some tips that can help you work under toxic bosses and compare them with the ideas you gave in the previous step.

Read the comments. Match the tips with the types of bosses they are useful to deal with


  • to throw insults /ˈɪn.sʌlt/ — say something rude with an intention to offend or hurt
  • a boundary /ˈbaʊn.dər.i/ — a limit
  • to set boundaries — to show limits
  • to maintain boundaries /meɪnˈteɪn/ — to make boundaries stay the same


As you remember, Emma is lucky — she’s always had good bosses. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Max. He’s had different experiences. Let’s read what he says about one of his bosses and decide what type he belonged to.

Listen to the audio and choose the type of the boss

It is said that people don’t leave jobs — they leave bosses. That’s exactly what happened to me. It was my first job, and I was full of ideas and initiatives.

My boss wasn’t the worst boss ever, and I am sure he had the best intentions. Actually, he never shouted at us, never made fun of us or insulted us (and there are bosses who do this). Also, he never tried to become our buddy, which could put us in a difficult position. He maintained professional boundaries, and I appreciated that. However, my boss didn’t encourage any initiatives. I had to do everything strictly according to his instructions. He controlled all my actions, even the simplest, where it was impossible to make any mistakes. You might think it was because I was young and inexperienced, but it was the same for everyone in the team. There were a lot of very qualified employees in the team, but it seemed our boss thought he was the only competent person. Between us, we called our boss «control freak». He had all the types of time management apps to control our work. We had a lot of meetings to discuss our productivity and results. But what did it lead to? Our productivity decreased because we spent so much time on these useless meetings and reports about every step we took. I desperately wanted more freedom, so I quit that job.

Listen again and complete the summary of Max’s story


Bad experience is also useful if you make right conclusions. After working with a toxic boss, Max understood one very important thing: not only the employer chooses you, you also have to choose your employer. Before accepting the job offer, make sure you’ll be able to work in this company and under this manager. Asking the right questions about the company and the boss could really help. Max’s defined 4 important topics that should be discussed. And what would you ask about? Think about the topics you should ask questions on.

Watch the video and write down 4 topics mentioned there

During an interview, you may be focused on how you’re presenting yourself. However, remember that a job interview is also the time for you to assess whether the employer is a good fit for you. This includes identifying whether you will have a good manager in this role. As a result, be sure to ask these four types of questions during your interview to spot a good manager.

Undoubtedly, the company’s culture will be a crucial part of your decision, should you receive an offer. Additionally, learning how your potential manager views the company’s culture, can give you a better preview of the kind of culture you can expect in this role. Make sure you ask culture questions like: «How would you describe your company culture?» «What are some career development opportunities offered to employees?» «What do you personally enjoy about working here?»

In order to understand more about your day to day in this role, it’s important to understand your potential employer’s management style. When you have a better idea of how they treat employees, you’ll learn what your working relationship with this manager might look like. To do so, ask questions like: «How do you define your management style?» «How often do you check in with your team, either individually or as a department?» «Tell me about a time you had to deal with an underperformer. What did you do?»

When you learn more about your potential team members, you can not only discover where your skills fit in, but you’ll also learn what your manager values most in their employees. As a result, you’ll be able to understand what kind of environment this manager has cultivated. To do so, ask questions like: «What is one habit your best team members practice that you expect in new hires?» «What was the last team achievement that was celebrated?» «How do you envision a new hire contributing to the team?»

As you evaluate a potential manager, you’ll want to learn what you can expect to do in your first months in the role. When you understand what is expected of you, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re on the same page as this manager, and you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re compatible. Ask questions like: «How do you measure individual performance?» «How are these metrics determined?» What does a typical workday/week look like for someone in this role?» What will I be expected to accomplish within my first 6 months in this role?

Watch the video one more time and take notes of the questions you should ask. Add at least one question to each group


Read the task and prepare your 2-minute speech

This is Heather. She manages a team of 7 people. She’s always considered herself to be a great boss, but now she’s starting to feel she might be wrong. Let’s read what she says about herself.

«I always try to create a very friendly atmosphere. I talk a lot with my team during lunch breaks. I really enjoy it. I

want to know what’s going on in their lives. So I often invite them to hang out after work or at the weekend to socialize more. Of course, they are always welcome for dinner at my place. I love my team, especially Alex and Nina! But I feel they don’t share the same feeling towards me … What am I doing wrong?»

Comment on the story by covering the following questions. Use some of the words and phrases from the wordlist. You may use the text area for taking notes.

1. Is she a good or a bad boss? Why?

2. What type of boss is she?

3. What tips can you give to Heather’s employees to make it more comfortable for them to work with her?

4. What tips can you give to Heather to help her become a better boss?

5. What questions can you ask at a job interview to spot this type of boss?


2. competent

3. initiative

4. workaholic

5. work-life balance

6. overtime

7. productivity

8. tyrant

9. rival

10. bully

11. embarrass

12. insult

13. insecure

14. inappropriate

15. buddy

16. boundary

Allow your browser access to your microphone, press the button «Record» and record the speech you have prepared


Choose the correct statements

It is said that all leaders are readers. If you want to learn more about leadership and how to improve leadership qualities, have a look at 🔗this list of books on the topic recommended by some well-known managers.

Being a toxic boss makes everyone’s life worse. So, be careful not to become one yourself!

  • Evaluate your boss
  • Types of bad bosses
  • Tips for dealing with a bad boss
  • Max's experience
  • Find out in advance
  • Help a bad boss
  • Assess your progress
  • Help a bad boss
  • Assess your progress
  1. 1. EM|Pre-Int|1. Management vs. Leadership
  2. 2. EM|Pre-Int|2. Bad bosses and how to deal with them
  3. 3. EM|Pre-Int|3. Way to success
  4. 4. EM|Pre-Int|Revise and Check 1
  5. 5. EM|Pre-Int|4. Leadership style theories
  6. 6. EM|Pre-Int|5. Lewin’s theory: autocratic style vs. democratic style
  7. 7. EM|Pre-Int|6. Lewin's theory: laissez-faire style
  8. 8. EM|Pre-Int|Revise and Check 2