OTSO serenity to walking out: how to deal with an idiot boss

girl in interview

We all know one. Someone in a position of authority who makes you think ‘how on EARTH did you get to where you are when you’re such a fool?’, or as we like to call them, idiot bosses.

Whether it’s an overpowering freak-controller or a scatterbrain who can’t manage their time or anything else, bosses

Disclaimer, I myself have managed teams before. From honest feedback, I am a good boss.

Serenity No 1: “If I mess up, it’s your fault”

Imagine your boss talking you through a task that relies 80% on them, and 20% on you. You cannot get your bit done until they’ve done theirs, then they tell you “If I don’t do my part it’s going to be your fault”.

This happened to me. My ex boss told me if he didn’t do his job, it’d be my fault. How to deal with this? Repeat it back to them. Look them in they eye and say, “So, if you don’t send that email and send me those documents after I ask you repeatedly, it’s my fault?” Now the reaction you would hope for is they make a confused look down at the floor and then say something along the lines of “well.. no, okay I’ll do it.” But if you’re met with the reaction I was, where they laugh and say yes, it’s time to get on indeed.com because that’s really no way to live.

I like standing over you because my experience and title doesn’t give me quite enough authority over you, peasants.

Walkout No 1: Excessive mind changing

“But what about if we” is not something you want to hear after you’ve finished a 2,000 word article that has been briefed, approved, finalised and published. Nor do you want to have found the perfect candidate for an urgent role and have your MD slack you some baffling chain of words something close to, “Change the job ad, we need someone with a background in potato chips and Pokémon, not finance!”

man laughing in meeting
Ha! You want to change the ‘feel’ of the 90 slide keynote for your speech tomorrow? That’s great news!

This is a tough one to deal with, but the best way you can is to let it just go like wateroffaducksback. “The deadline is tomorrow but you want the re-write the entire thing? Cool sounds great, you’ll have it next [pick a day, any day].

Another way you can get around this is by asking questions, if you have a boss who tends to be a little flimsy in their decision making, push back. Ask the WHY OH WHY do we need to re-shoot this? How about we just make a tweak here? Find a way around their decision, if they’re unsure, you absolutely have the power to sway them. That said, if the piece is bad, then change it. If they’re right, then change it. But if you believe in what you’re doing and you know it’s good then fight back. You never know, you might gain some respect afterwards. Even better, they might question you less after you’ve showed conviction.

Serenity No 2: Flexible working

I once worked as an executive assistant for a high powered consultant. It was part time and she travelled a lot. She was a complete nightmare, so I worked the schedule so we were never in the office at the same time.

men sitting back to back working
I like you best when I can’t see or hear you

I would book her on back-to-back meetings if I knew I’d need some peace and quiet that day. If your boss’ schedule is in your hands, use it to your advantage. Got a dinner planned on Wednesday night? Thursday morning they’ve got an on-site meeting. Usually they’ll be so self-absorbed they won’t even notice.

Walkout No 2: Boundaries

The high powered consultant I worked for was hugely uptight, borderline frantic at times. Once, she got so worked up that she had an explosive nosebleed at our shared desk. Our PR colleague ran to get tissues, I pulled her laptop away from her. After she was done wiping and blowing her nose, she pushed the giant pile of bloodied tissues towards me and asked if I could take them to the bin.


We don’t even need to go into why that is wrong on so many levels.

Work smarter*

So what it comes down to is you either figure out a way to manage your manager, whether that’s through smart questioning, savvy scheduling, or just saying “No”, OR you get the hell out of there.

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