The Grey Chronicles


What Type of Boss Are You? Part IV

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). Days ago this blog introduced Good Bosses, God Bosses, Machiavellian Bosses and Masochistic Bosses. Yesterday, the post described Sadistic Bosses and Paranoid Bosses. The following is the summary of the last two categories and their respective attributes and the manner of dealing with them.

I have excluded most of the anecdotes, except for emphasis on the I-Bosses, 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.

Buddy Bosses

Buddy BossThey can, at times, be aggravating and annoying. Probably being a friendless child, they want to hang with you, even if you don’t want to. Generally, they are lonely people and a little attention can go a long way. They will devote endless hours to hearing your confessions and making theirs to you. “Dedicated workers get hit the hardest by these bosses because they must work nights and weekends to do the things they would have done if they weren’t discussing news, weather, and sports with their Buddy Bosses.”

Dr. Hoover suggests:

  1. Invite them to everything. They are going to come anyway. If they find out you didn’t include them, they’ll be hurt and you’ll be saddled with a sulking boss.
  2. Include them in everything. Share information openly with them. Flood them with information to bind them up to keep them out of your way temporarily while you try to work. Visual demonstrations and reminders of their inclusion in all things will assure them emotionally. Remind them that they’s not alone. It doesn’t take very many words to say, “Hi.” The “How are you doing?” is implied.
  3. Request meetings at least once per week and they will be pleased that you took the initiative. To them, it means you care. they’ll gladly let you plan and conduct the meeting, which puts the ball in your court to shape the environment.
  4. Beware the confessional. When a confession begins, ask politely if you can hear it later because there are too many pressing issues at that moment to give them your complete and undivided attention. They will be pleased with the anticipation of your conversation.
  5. Set time limits. When your Buddy Boss asks, “Do you have a minute?” Tell them you have three. If every time they asks for your time, and you set a limit, they will tend not to ask when them intention is to engage you in an open-ended conversation.

Dr. Hoover admonishes: Buddy Bosses, if you can stand being around them, are not the most intolerable boss you can work for. Getting along with them simply requires ignoring everything you’re being paid to do and hanging out. With luck, you might get transferred to an Idiot Boss.

Idiot Bosses

I-BossThey usually get into positions of leadership for the wrong reasons: by accident, luck of the draw, or patronage. The classic idiots “apply for a promotion because it looks like fun and accidentally appear competent long enough to get the job. By the time their true character emerges, it’s too late.” Idiots didn’t become Idiots on the job; they arrived in that condition caused by nurture rather than nature. They probably won’t think themselves as God, but God loves I-Bosses just the same as the rest of us. God made so many of them! They want to be important. With a little power, I-Bosses can drive you crazy. With a lot of power, they can terrorize the planet. They can be insecure, yet they don’t suspect anything, but feel a twinge of humiliation rooted in his inability to match competencies. They wear their ignorance on their sleeves: joining in conversations on subjects they know nothing about. They sometimes might get away with it, and gain enough confidence to try it all over again. They just don’t get it—any of it. Their failure to communicate effectively comes from cluelessness about important matters or simply from an inability to express themselves. They lack imagination, coupled with their infamous tunnel vision, they remain oblivious to what damage they cause.

Dr. Hoover gives mirthful descriptions of the evolution of the I-Bosses:

“[O]n the seventh day, God suddenly remembered that He forgot to fix the Idiot Boss malfunction, God winced and said, “oops.” Not feeling the problem was annoying enough to create an eight-day week, God let the idiot thing slide, and the rest is history.”

“If life on this planet was set into motion by one enormous explosion, then it would make sense that Idiot Bosses were the leftover shrapnel. . . These are “chronically clueless mutants from the evolutionary journey of the species . . . Idiot Bosses are the mutant hiccups of organizational evolution with cockroach-like immunity to calamities that wipe out truly talented and creative people. Although idiots are barnacles on the ship of executive survival, they can nonetheless serve valuable functions—as long as they’re not in charge.”

Dr. Hoover suggests:

  1. Be perky, attentive, appreciative, or whatever else will please him when he does what you want him to do. Ignore him, work slowly, or act generally rebellious when he is behaving in ways that displease you.
  2. If you want attention, exaggerate! You not only need to say or do things that warrant attention, you need to exaggerate them so much he can’t possibly fail to notice.
  3. Build an emphatic bridge. A recollection of embarrassing moments in your life can be an emphatic bridge between you and your I-Boss. He no doubt does a lot of embarrassing things. To be more accurate, things that would embarrass a normal person. He probably has no clue that anything he does warrants embarrassment.
  4. Stay alert. Be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way. “Let go and let God. But remember you are His arms and legs. When He asks to borrow them, let Him.”
  5. Take his side. They need to feel that someone is on their side, in their corner, and has their back. When you feel unsupported or even undermined, you tend to grasp tighter, fight more intensely, become more suspicious. They do the same.

Dr. Hoover reminds, “Not every boss is an idiot and not every idiot is a boss.” The redeeming quality of these I-Bosses: They keep us honest. If we don’t have them around, how can they enrich our lives? They exist to test our faith, secure our sanity, and teach survival skills. We might have complete control of the world around us were it not for them. Our sanity depends on how sincerely and completely we turn our I-Bosses over to God. They are also be the easiest to work with and the least threatening to your health of all the other boss types.

Dr. Hoover cautions that attempting to “use I-Boss solutions on other boss types is like running a cross-platform application with incompatible software. At best, you will crash the system. At worst you might set off an intermolecular reaction causing the planet to implode . . . leaving only Idiot Bosses in charge after the next Big Bang.”


Hoover, John (2004). How to Work for an Idiot: Survive & Thrive Without Killing Your Boss. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2004. xx, pp 9, 25, 38-59. back to text

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1 Comment »

  1. is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.

    Comment by express payday loan — 2009.August.14 @ 07:17 | Reply

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