Official Review: Got a Bad Boss? Work that Boss to Get Wh...

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Official Review: Got a Bad Boss? Work that Boss to Get Wh...

Post by lemming »

[Following is the official review of "Got a Bad Boss? Work that Boss to Get What You Want at Work," by Dr. Noelle Nelson.]
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I don't have a bad boss at the moment - in fact work is now one of the more tolerable parts of my life - but I have experienced workplace bullying in the past and in general seem to show up as a blip on bully's radars. I think some of the advice Nelson offers is transferable to dealing with any difficult person you can't or won't escape. Escape or fighting back works in the movies, but in real life I think it's often more like the episode of the TV series "Girls" in which the young main character Hannah threatens to sue a "Sexist Horny Pig Boss"- to use Nelson's term. The boss responds that Hannah can't even get herself organised enough to get to work at 10 in the morning let alone sue anyone, and "There's no suing app on your iPhone." 

I think the warning the author gives on some of the suggestions for dealing with the horny pig boss that "this is risky business, and it can backfire" applies to any of the types of bosses in Nelson's typology who knowingly treat people unfairly. The exception might be "Ghost Boss" who is indifferent rather than bullying. With the others, while I think the advice is based on sound psychology, challenging the status quo is likely to make things different but not necessarily better, and Nelson has inordinate faith in the power of documenting.

There's often documentation of requirements in my line of work - software - but in my first graduate job at a startup, requirements documents created by my "finger pointer" boss did not stop him from continually moving the goalposts and not the deadline, while branding me as a poor performer because I couldn't follow his way of programming which contradicted everything I'd learned at uni. That startup has since grown and I recently had a chance to work with a well-regarded consulting company who told me that any consultant who survives working for my former employer gets a badge of honour, so it wasn't just my inexperience that prevented me succeeding there.

Therefore I would have liked to see a section on interviewing the interviewer when applying for jobs, spotting red flags about the people you'd be working with and the company cultures that allow bad bosses to thrive. This is in the same vein as self defence classes that include teachings on how to avoid a fight in the first place. There would be space for dealing with this topic, because while there is good advice here, there is also a lot of repetition, especially in the final section which gives advice for every combination of employee type and bad boss. It's the same advice for each boss type, only with slightly different advice for each employee type on how to motivate oneself to follow the plan, since the commonality among bad bosses is they don't know how to motivate their employees properly. I liked the idea of setting up a reward system for yourself the same way you'd reward someone else, but it only needed to be said once. As in a lot of self-help books, the advice here isn't as definitive or comprehensive as its author thinks, but much of it is decent advice on an important topic.

I rate this book three out of four stars.

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