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      Volume 11 |Issue 51| December 28, 2012 |


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The Boss of it All

Zahir Hassan Nabil

Conventional wisdom states that when it comes to the Boss there are only two rules to follow:

1. The boss is always right. 2. If s/he's wrong, go to rule 1.

In truth, bosses are as diverse as the number of offices sprouting up in town and the ways to deal with them are as many as the routes leading to those offices. However, a way to define the archetypes of bosses is to observe how they do their work or deal with their co-workers.

The five types of bosses below are probably the most commonly found ones, ranked in no particular order. In reality, what we see around us are 'excerpts' from the five types, overlapping in various combinations and permutations.

The Formal-dehyde
The Formal-dehydes always stick to the rules, speak less and seem gentle and coolheaded. Constructive in criticising and advising, the Formal-dehyde, also take in suggestions from the co-workers. When in a good mood, they can be humorous, extroverts and pay attention to their co-workers seeking for suggestions while brainstorming. They would generously appreciate when they do it but at times, vent their anger like hydraulic horns when someone fails to meet expectations.

The formidable mood swings sometimes keep them detached from the rest of the world and from priorities. They find it extremely embarrassing to get caught humming a tune on the elevator or have anything from their past revealed, say like being a closet poet during their school years.

Ways to deal with: Never annoy a Formal-dehyde. Never talk about personal things or enquire about their mothers' wellbeing - it is an immediate alert signal for them to be suspicious that you are trying to wangle something out of them - an undeserved leave or raise or ticket to some extremely posh event. Be a team player, do your work, clock in and clock out timely, pay attention when they speak and be creative and the Formal-dehyde's happy.

The Two-headed Demon
Limitlessly ambitious, these types of boss usually reach an esteemed position far too quickly in contrast to their age. They prefer substandard co-workers so they can feel superior and therefore have that condescending attitude. They rarely make eye contact and fear is the means to earn respect. But if for some reason they need something from someone, even a lowly subordinate, they will morph into an over-friendly, strangely attentive employer. The way to identify them is their attempts to belittle everyone who they consider not important and trivialising every matter that comes across - unless of course it is of use to them.

Apathetic to others' opinions, they don't like disagreement over a matter and take immense pleasure in seeing someone drowning in quicksand. Vindictive and generally deceptive, they would ditch anyone they consider 'redundant' in their dictionary, people are nothing more than just another rung in their ladder.

Ways to deal with: The above compilation of attributes is a textual embodiment of pure evil on earth but some people just have many of these 'qualities,' if not all. To deal with them, being extremely polite, indifferent and diplomatic sometimes help to make the Two-headed get bored and let you thus have a respite. The straightforward way out is to find the 'Exit', literally, as these people hardly ever change their nasty ways.

The Accidental Boss
Sometimes people are just promoted by default for no real merit. S/he is the boss just because his/her father owned the company or because the wrong person just happened to be there at the right time at the right place. This type of boss is more interested in socialising and hence will often have friends and family come over for coffee while crucial decisions await to be taken and executed. There is no fear that they will lose their job and so can afford to be total shirkers. These people tend to consider flattery as their birth-right, trip-to-Hawaii as a civil right and place their organisational benefits under human rights. Imprudent in general but prudently manipulative, they will often lay a red carpet out when they are in trouble and need to get out of it - they may even take the advice from a new intern if need be as long as Daddy doesn't find out. Sometimes, these bosses suffer from (anti)Helter-Skelter Disorder, such as blowing up at the office peon for not putting the flowers in a vase at a 90 degree angle.

They hardly ever listen to anything except maybe a little music and will therefore often make contradictory statements having no clue of what they are saying. They often harbour ambitious mottos like “Life is short, live it up” and can be placed anywhere within the range between an excellent womaniser and an underachieving flirter.

Way to deal with: Be incognito, interact as little as possible. Find a suitable supervisor to remain shadowed behind because if the Accidental Boss somehow realises you are the person to get the work done with, s/he will pat your back and leave for merrymaking, leaving you to realise that you are standing on a tightrope with an elephant on your shoulders.

The Manager
These people are not identifiable in a crowd yet their work outshines their stature. By hook or by crook, they will get the work done, even by recruiting the most amateurs available in town. They speak only when necessary, observe things in detail but never pry in any matter. Their smiles are crafted, moves deft and speech measured.

Generally workaholics and rarely alcoholics, the Manager expects everyone to be a machine and would therefore invent and innovate newfangled ways of surveillance and surveying the co-workers. Tolerant towards mistakes, they often help their co-workers to smoothly carry out tasks and arrange assistance to improve or make things easier. The bottom-line is to get work done without getting personal.

Ways to deal with: When tasked beyond one's capabilities, techniques used in high-school in dealing with overly strict teachers should be applied to cop out from the Manager's crosshair. Although Managers don't give others much opportunity to speak, problems and viewpoints should be spelt out as much as possible, so that one's abilities are not pressed too hard. Manners and patience must be maintained at all times because the Manager is only a butcher while getting the work done.

The Boss of it All
The best boss in the world is the boss who bosses without anyone feeling it. The co-workers are not reminded all the time that they are working under a boss. Nevertheless, the Boss maintains his/her distance without failing to retain sociability. They are respected for their amicable qualities and decision-making capabilities in tandem with their intelligence to shape up proficient co-workers regardless of their types. Preferring team players like themselves, they would listen to everyone but decide on their own.

Tougher than hawks in observation, they are as sympathetic as a childhood friend in treating a person, yet stern in making tough decisions when required. The best thing about the Boss is his/her managerial qualities to understand the co-workers' limitations, potentials and putting them to work accordingly. Co-workers would seek to learn from them. S/he might wisely incorporate some of the qualities of the Manager and perhaps a pinch of the Formal-dehyde.

Ways to deal with: These days, the amount of these bosses is getting close to nil, zilch, nada [To be honest, it doesn't exist]. Then again, if someone having some qualities of this rarity is found, being cooperative, honest with and respectful to the Boss should suffice. The Boss of it All would take care of the rest.

The title purposelessly alludes to Lars Von Trier's 2006 comedy.


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