Resource Centre Life At Work 7 Types Of Bad Managers As Depicted In Movies

7 Types Of Bad Managers As Depicted In Movies

Poor management at work

Movies, series and TV shows are often a reflection of society, and one of the things that commonly features in them is bad managers. In fact, a popular saying in the professional world is, “ people quit their managers not their jobs”. Bad managers can interfere with your work and if you are not careful, stall your career. A bad manager can have an impact on your emotional well-being, as well as your productivity. Unlike other employees you don’t like, you can’t avoid your manager and a bad one will always find a way of interfering with your work.For most people, quitting a job is better than having a confrontation with a bad boss. This is because you are more likely to be disengaged and working in fear which then lowers your ability to be creative and enjoy your job.

So, just what are the characteristics of bad managers in TV shows and who might represent the qualities of their counterparts in reality?

  1. The Narcissist- Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wear Prada’


Everything is about them. When things go right, they take the credit. Only their ideas matter. They never give anyone credit for a good job. They never ask for feedback. All ideas must pass by them and be approved before being executed. Like Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wear Prada’, they survive by stepping on other people and they shine by taking credit for everyone’s work and effort. Yes, they can also kill your career if they imagine that you are a threat or simply make working for them impossible with impossible demands. Working for such a boss can feel worthless as all your work seems to go down the drain. For them, it is all about control and appearing smarter than everyone else, just like Tony tries to control his therapist.

  1. The Micro Manager- Bill Lumbergh in ‘Office Space’Micro managing

This one has control issues. The micro manager wants to have a say in everything that you do and have you do it the way they would do it themselves. Micromanagers do not trust their teams, no matter how talented they are. They can easily stifle your creativity and paralyse your ability. Take the example of Bill Lumbergh in ‘Office Space’, who wants to control every aspect of the lives of those working under him and expects them to devote all their time, including weekends, to work. Such bosses are always all over your space and never let you make independent decisions.

  1. The Bully- Buddy Ackerman in ‘Swimming with Sharks’

    Bullying boss

Well, bullies are not only found in high school. Yes, they are also in offices causing you to have sleepless nights and have you stretch yourself beyond your limits just to try and please them. Bullies are simply insatiable. No matter how good you are, they will never recognise your efforts. They will walk over anyone and everyone just to get to the top. They will shout and scream even with no provocation at all. Take the example of Buddy Ackerman in ‘Swimming with Sharks’, tells Guy “You are nothing! If you were in my toilet, I wouldn’t bother flushing it. My bathmat means more to me than you!” Bullies simply make your life impossible and have no apologies for it.

  1. The Manipulator- Mark Zuckerberg in ‘The Social Network’


This one is just like Mark Zuckerberg in the movie ‘The Social Network’. Conniving and with a secret plan all the time. This kind of boss uses people as a means to an end. In the movie, Mark Zuckerberg tells Eduardo Saverin “You’re gonna blame me because you were the business head of the company and you made a bad business deal with your own company?”

The manipulator is known to use any tactic, including throwing people under the bus, to get to the top. They ensure that they gain the trust of those they work with and use this trust to manipulate their way around. In some cases, they will drop names of those higher up just to get things going their way.

  1. The Gatekeeper- Greg Roberts in ‘Being Mary Jane’

    Gate keeper

The gatekeeper acts as the agent of the bosses. Take the example of Greg Roberts in the series ‘Being Mary Jane’, his work is to simply do what he is told by those higher up and never questions management’s decisions, even when they are wrong. This boss exists to simply do the bidding of those in management and has survived and gotten promoted simply because they play ball to what the management wants. Such managers can ruin your career as they never oppose management and any ideas you raise will simply be crushed because all ideas can only come from higher up.

  1. The Blamer- Bobby Pellitt in ‘Horrible Bosses’

    The blamer

This one never takes charge of the affairs of the department or even their own decisions. They run away from trouble and simply shift blame instead of showing leadership. They often lack any leadership skills and probably got promoted because they are good at their jobs, although they lack leadership skills. Their main occupation is to be in the management’s good books and they will do anything including deflecting blame. Like Bobby Pellitt in ‘Horrible Bosses’, they simply have no leadership skills and cannot be trusted to take the lead.

  1. The Ego-Maniac- Robert Pujol in ‘Potiche’


This one is good at their job and they know it. However, the egomaniac dismisses everyone’s ideas and is the yardstick of perfection. With such managers, you are always working hard to get their approval and nothing you do is good enough. If you can’t do it as they would, then it is not good enough. They can stifle your creativity and morale. Basically, they are the gold standard of greatness, according to themselves. Just like Robert Pujol tells Deneuve’s Suzanne, “You want my opinion? Your job is to share my opinion, don’t waste my time.”

Bad bosses are everywhere. If you are unfortunate enough, then it is important to note that you can never impress them and trying is futile. Most do not realise that they are terrible, but some are horrible just because they want to be.


Njeri Karanja
Njeri is a reading and creative writing enthusiast who is neck-deep in research writing. She is well versed in researching and writing on various topics.
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