It’s a corporate jungle out there, with the Boss at the top of the food chain. Whether it’s a he or a she, you’ll see some or all of these traits: exacting, idiosyncratic, full of bullsh*t, assertive, maybe a little shouty, and definitely bossy. All of which make great fodder for entertaining movies – remember Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada, Kylo Ren of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Michelle Darnell of new comedy The Boss to name a few. But how can you tell whether you’ve got a good or bad boss? The Popping Post has come up with the definitive guide to spotting a bad boss.

Just open your ears and tell us how many of these sentences your boss spouts, read our translations of what they really mean, and use our handy scoring guide to figure out if you’ve got a Good Boss or a Bad Boss.

Sandra Bullock plays the "venomous snake" Margaret Tate in The Proposal. Credit: Playbuzz

Sandra Bullock plays the “venomous snake” Margaret Tate in The Proposal. Credit: Playbuzz

1. “Don’t be afraid of hard work!”

Translation: I am going to give you a lot more work soon. There’s nothing wrong with more work – if it comes with more pay. It’s such a manipulative statement, playing on your ego (you’re afraid of challenges?) to make you do more than you’re paid for (hard work). Work is work, and if it gets more difficult, bad bosses should pay more (although they won’t since they are bad and therefore scrooges).

For once, we’d like to tell the Bad Boss: “You get what you pay for!”

2. “The economy is bad/will be bad…”

Translation: I’m not giving you a raise or a bonus this year.  It’s amazing how often bad bosses trot this line out – the way they tell it, the economy hasn’t been good since the 1950s! It’s often used as a justification to give shoddy bonuses/increments to people who have performed well, while still dangling the carrot of a good bonus/increment “when the economy is better.”

But have you ever heard bad bosses going the “economy is good?” Bet you $10 that you’ll never hear it in your lifetime.

3. “You must learn to multitask more, like me!”

Translation: You’re not working as hard as me. “Multitasking” is the pointless buzzword of this century, because why do one excellent thing when you can do three mediocre things in the same amount of time? Unless you’re brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, and reading e-mails at the same time, you’re not multitasking enough.

Tip: Say your computer doesn’t have enough RAM to multitask, so you need a better computer, and watch the Bad Boss flee in terror at the cost!

Meryl Streep is Miranda Tate in The Devil Wears Prada. Credit: Delhi Style Blog

Meryl Streep is Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Credit: Delhi Style Blog

4. The Management has decided that…

Translation: Actually I was the one who decided but I daren’t say it. “The Management” is kind of like the “royal we” of today. You know that the Bad Boss is the one who decided because it’s usually a decision that affects everyone (including the Management) (always use a capital M for “the Management”) except the Bad Boss, like installing a clock-in-clock-out system.

Form your own union, called the Managed, and give your own suggestions!

5. Don’t you think it should be something else instead? 

Translation: Read my mind. This is so passive-aggressive! There’s always a huge emphasis on the word “should,” and then there’ll be this expectant stare as the Bad Boss stares at you, waiting for your answer. They’ll tell you it’s for your own good, you will learn when you figure out the right solution. But we all know the real reason why they say this.

They, too, don’t know the answer.

6. All the people who left weren’t resilient/adaptable/hardy enough

Translation: The massive turnover rates are not the result of my poor managerial abilities. Aiyoh, this is like saying “the taxi driver left because he wasn’t a good enough driver.” Unless the company is offering a fat pension (please tell me which company so I can join them), there are hardly any employees who stay at the same company their whole lives.

Well, at least if you stay, you can add “resilient/adaptable/hardy” to your resume.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

7. No-one is indispensable, OK. (Full-stop, not question mark.)

Translation: Don’t make me fire you, OK. This is usually a veiled threat (hence the full-stop) when all rational attempts have failed. It’s really the verbal equivalent of holding a gun to your head.

Best retort? Ya, no-one is indispensable – even you, Boss.

8. I have eagle eyes so don’t think…

Translation: Please refrain from making even small mistakes because I can’t be looking over your shoulder every second. Honestly, no boss will have time to go through every minute detail of your work. That’s why it’s important to train employees properly, empower them to do what’s been taught, and trust them to do what’s right. A good boss will say: “I trust you to make the decision when I am not around.” But bad bosses are all too happy to point out typos and mistakes which don’t matter in hopes of scaring you into being on your toes all the time.

Tip: If you really think your job is worth holding onto despite having such a boss, then refrain from making the mistakes that he or she will see.

9. You have to be more flexible.

Translation: Why can’t you do more work for free? This usually comes when you’re asked to spend extra hours or weekends doing work, but the Bad Boss refuses to give you time off in lieu. The implicit insult is, of course, that you are stubborn, which is a negative trait.

But really, only the Bad Boss (and the bottom line) benefits when you are “more flexible” in their definition.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) throws a tantrum in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Credit: Oh My Starships

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) throws a tantrum in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Credit: Oh My Starships

10. I need someone to be my human alarm clock/settle her admin/help with their personal affairs

Translation: I am sleeping with this colleague. You know, if you’ve managed to become the (Bad) Boss by now, you would probably have the competency to do all these things, so you don’t really need a minion to help you. It’s often an open secret that the Bad Boss is having an affair with this colleague, because all those furtive glances and mysterious disappearances together don’t go unnoticed.

Seriously, how many times can the two of them go to the toilet together?

11. It’s not your turn to get promoted/There’s a bell curve for performance grades

Translation: You didn’t know that it’s not a meritocracy here? This is especially endemic to larger organisations, where people get promoted based on how long they’ve been working, rather than how well they performed. To help them with this really weird promotion criteria, they often employ a bell curve system of grading, which has proven to be really damaging to actual performance.

But at least the graphs look nice with a bell curve.

12. It’s not my job scope

Translation: Not my problem. Eye in the Sky recently gave us a good variation of this line with its constant refrain of “referring up,” You hear this from annoying colleagues who try to avoid work, but remember that bad bosses are also human and also like to practise “taichi” too.

Try using “it’s not my job scope” on the Bad Boss though, and get ready to hear “Why can’t you be more flexible” (see above) in return.

Melissa McCarthy is Melissa Darnell in The Boss. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Melissa McCarthy is Melissa Darnell in The Boss. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Scoring System: How many of these statements does your boss say?

0 – 2 statements: Good Boss. Don’t worry, your boss generally means well, and they have your best interests at heart. Stick with them and you’ll go far!

3 – 6 statements: Regular Boss. Most bosses are like this. It’s fact of life, so if you think you’ve got a Good Boss or Bad Boss, it’s time to recalibrate your expectations!

7 – 12 statements: Bad Boss. Can you hear the warning bells blaring already? This is usually also a sign that the company is a sinking ship. Start polishing up your LinkedIn profile and adding those friends that it keeps suggesting!

Poster for The Boss. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Poster for The Boss. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

So here’s another great game for you and your buddies – take a sip every time you hear the Boss (played by Melissa McCarthy) utter one of these lines in The Boss. She plays a reformed Boss that has to deal with all the people she stepped on in her quest to become The Boss.

Is your boss like The Boss?

Credits: Playbuzz, Delhi Style Blog, The Hollywood Reporter, Oh My Starships, Golden Village Cinemas