The Grey Chronicles


What Type of Boss Are You? Part III

How to Work for an Idiot: Survive & Thrive Without Killing Your BossThis continues my post on Dr. Hoover’s eight classification of bosses from his book: How to Work for an Idiot (2004). Two days ago this blog introduced Good Bosses and God Bosses. Yesterday, the post described Machiavellian Bosses and Masochistic Bosses. The following is the summary of the next two categories and their respective attributes and the manner of dealing with them.

I have excluded most of the funny anecdotes but only highlighted the attributes. If you want to read, then laugh at the funny scenarios described by Dr. Hoover, the book is available at Amazon or read it on-line (note: a previous edition) at Google Books.

Sadistic Bosses

Sadistic BossPain and suffering are their medicines, batteries, catnips, or simply a way of their life. They will only keep you alive to continually torture you. To a sadist, pain is power. Your pain, their power! Forget about working, insubordination or bleeding your way out of the problem. The harder you work, the more she’ll pile on you. The more you goof off, the more justification you give her to beat you. Injuring yourself is a waste of time, not to mention painful. In laymen’s terms, a paradoxical bind simply means damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Dr. Hoover suggests:

  1. Pretend you’re a masochist. Working yourself to near death, goofing off, or self-inflicting wounds only play into the Sadistic Boss’s game. If she thinks you’re skating through anything, she’ll associate that with failure to sufficiently burden you.
  2. When a Sadistic Boss calls, come. Do not give them an excuse to lash out. Always be ready to respond quickly, although not merrily.
  3. Assure them that pain is a good motivator. Acknowledge that their exerted pressure accelerated the process of accomplishment.
  4. Don’t have fun! in the office or outside of it. Keep all happiness and frivolity underground and ad hoc, else you’ll wind up working late and missing the fun.
  5. Act busy. Idleness invites punishment in the form of exaggerated workloads. Work on important and personally rewarding activities or just make your work appear excessively burdensome.
  6. Watch their eyes. Pain begets pain. Making eye contact might open an unspoken corridor between you and they’ll back off a little. If making eye contact only makes them rage out at you, disengage.

Lastly, Dr. Hoover advise: “With a Sadistic Boss, play it smart, but play it nonetheless.”

Paranoid Bosses

Paranoid BossThey believe: everything and everybody is out to get them, including you. Subversion, Sabotage, or Conspiracy exist largely in their vivid imagination, but might sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They spend own energy searching out and exposing the conspiracy against them. If they cannot find one, they’d invent one. A failed operation becomes their evidence.

To make the relationship tolerable, Dr. Hoover suggests:

  1. Keep your activities in plain sight. Stay one step ahead of your Paranoid Boss by intentionally avoiding the appearance of secret activity. Bring proof or evidence or witness if they could not be there, physically.
  2. Copy them on everything. Let him tell you when to stop. A constant flow of information serves two purposes. First, he will think, by its sheer volume, information is being disclosed more than withheld. Second, he will be sufficiently occupied with reading the information that he’ll have less time to ruminate about conspiracies.
  3. Spend more time with him. It will be hard for them to imagine you conspiring against them if you’re in his face.
  4. Share the knowledge and information freely with them, but also with the rest of the organization. This will decrease their anxiety level, knowing that information shared over a larger population reduces the probability of a mass conspiracy.
  5. Share secrets including within reason some of your inner thoughts. Trusting them might invite their trust in return. Be a genuine listener if they decides to share with you.

Dr. Hoover’s last advise: Inaction around the office is not innocuous.


Hoover, John (2004). How to Work for an Idiot: Survive & Thrive Without Killing Your Boss. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2004. xx, pp 38-59. back to text

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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