Over the years I've worked for a number of bosses.
One of the best bosses I ever had was also one of the worst. As a teenager I worked in the kitchen of a curling club. My boss was a renowned chef who once worked as the official chef of the prime minister's residence. He was a fantastic cook and he taught me a great deal about gourmet food including a few of his famous recipes - but he had a bad habit of throwing pots. Not fits, pots. When things were going great he was nicest boss in the world but if someone screwed up - like forgetting to garnish a plate or cut a lobster tail correctly - he would grab a pot and toss it. Then he would smile and carry on. So, it was only a problem for those who didn't duck, no pun intended.
What kind of boss do you have?
There are at least a dozen different kinds, according to Geoffrey James, author of "Business without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets to Shortcuts You Need to Know" (Grand Central Publishing, $27) and just as many ways to get along with them. "Everyone needs a field guide to identify which type of boss they've got and how to get the most out of the experience," said James.
Shown here are a few examples noted by James along with tips on how to get along with each of them:
These bosses are more concerned with the future than what might be happening her and now. They manage by creating or hoping to create a group of team players who believe they can accomplish the impossible.
A visionary boss will provide incentives such as bonuses and while they can be fun to work for they can also be intolerant, overly critical and sometimes throw tantrums when they don't get their way.
If you're working for a Visionary boss James recommends you drink the Kool-Aid. Work the long hours and learn to repeat this mantra: "This product will change the world."
What can you do for his or her career is what the climber boss wants to know? A Climber boss spends a great deal of their time and effort working on strategies that will win brownie points with his or her bosses, claim credit and build alliances. They are most worried about their own career and see you only as a help or hindrance.
So, if you're working for a Climber be their helper or the person who has their back when another Climber tries to stab it.
Everything is by the book with this kind of boss. And since the book has already been written and is working just fine -- they are most likely to resist change. The bureaucrat boss usually thrives at a large corporation but tends to falter in smaller firms because the lack of a crowd makes it too obvious when they really aren't doing all that much said James.
If you're working for a Bureaucrat get everything in writing and limit your activities to what has been done in the past or ask before proceeding in a new direction. Since Bureaucrat bosses can squelch your creativity find a way to work on projects outside of the job.
The Propeller Head
"When engineers get into the management chain they bring a technology-oriented worldview with them. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean you'll be judged almost entirely on your technical competence," said James. "The Propeller Head boss prefers employees who are experts in some technical field - the more obscure the better.
If you're working for a Propeller Head become well-versed in nerdy pop culture references.
The Fogey boss is someone who has been around when your business first got started but tends to be out-of-touch with now. "Fogeys who are close to retirement are often quite jovial and easy-going; those who must continue to work because they can't afford to retire can be meaner than dyspeptic weasels," James warns.
"If you're working for a Fogey, don't assume that every duffer is a doofus. Reassure your boss that he's still relevant and then recruit him as a mentor."
Opposite of the Fogey boss is the barely-out-of-college go-getter Whippersnapper boss assigned to manage a group of seasoned employees. "Whippersnappers are energetic, enthusiastic, but secretly afraid that nobody is taking them seriously," James said.
"If you're working for a Whippersnapper, respond enthusiastically to the energy (he or she) brings to their job and never, ever remind them of their relative inexperience," James said.
The Social Director
They are the kind of bosses who consider personal interactions in the workplace as important as the work itself. If you're attending a lot of meetings or having to offer up your opinion and idea on a lot of matters that might not concern you chances are you're working for a Social Director.
If you are James recommends building alliances and garnering support for your ideas or work before letting the boss know what you have planned. Also, be the one who brings the donuts to the meeting said James.
A lot of people might cringe at a boss who uses the adage, my way or the highway" but there are advantages. For one, they make decisions quickly and without over-analyzing things. Having said that they can also be impervious to outside opinion and stubborn when it comes to change. "When they fail, it's usually on an epic scale," James said.
If you're working for a Dictator boss just follow orders and hope for the best. James also recommends having your resume ready in case the Dictator drives your organization over a cliff.
The Lost Lamb
When one boss leaves another person takes their place. In some cases this person is not really a boss but somebody to hold the fort.
The Lost Lamp proceeds as if nothing happen. All polices that were previously followed remain in place and dread doing anything that might lead the herd astray or create problems once they're pushed back into the ranks.
If you're working for a Lost Lamb stick to the plan and do your job as you normally would without forcing your manager to make any difficult decisions.
The Hero Boss
A Hero boss prefers to coach others and has no problem with them getting all the credit. They know their employees and they utilize their skills to achieve things that make the entire company look good. "Heroes always give their teams credit for the wins but take personal responsibility for the losses," James said. These one-of-a-kind bosses still follow the old adage "the buck stops here."
If you're working for a Hero boss take notes so you can be this kind of boss. Also, enjoy the time you have with this boss because chances are he or she will be promoted upward or be recruited to work elsewhere.