There have been many memorable bosses on TV over the years, ranging from the very best to the very worst. While the managers portrayed on television are mostly fictional and often played to the extreme, there are frequently similarities to what you may encounter in the workplace.
Here are a few examples of common types of bosses that you may see on TV along with some tips on what you can do if your supervisor in the real world matches one of these descriptions.
The Perfectionist Donald Trump, "The Apprentice"; Lou Grant, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
"Just do the assignment and do it well" would be the motto of this type of manager. There is little patience for delay or mistakes, so if that server upgrade isn't completed when anticipated, you'll have some explaining to do.
To get along well with a boss who is a perfectionist, you may need to adjust the way you work. For example, you might start using very detailed to-do lists to ensure you don't overlook even the smallest task with your projects. Or you might make a more active effort to keep your supervisor informed on your progress with certain assignments, so you can resolve any challenges before they become major problems.
The Absentee Boss Charlie, "Charlie's Angels"; Mr. Peterman, "Seinfeld"
Either rarely in the office or hidden behind closed doors, this type of manager is someone you most frequently connect with over the phone or via e-mail. Face time with your supervisor may be rare.
To thrive when working for this type of boss, you need to be a go-getter who will take the initiative to get the job done under minimal direction. You may want to set up a support system within the company consisting of colleagues and other managers you can turn to when you need immediate advice and your supervisor is unavailable. Since your boss is difficult to reach, ask him or her for the best way to stay in contact, particularly if an emergency situation arises such as a network security breach or systemwide e-mail problem.
The Caring-But-Often-Misguided Boss Sam Malone, "Cheers"; Michael Scott, "The Office"
This manager loves his or her work and views employees as family. However, this person often makes poor snap decisions, and efforts to keep staff members happy and successful in their jobs frequently backfire.
In this situation, you are lucky because you have a supervisor who genuinely cares about you and others in your group, so take advantage of his or her willingness to help when you need professional advice.
When you notice your boss has made a misguided decision, think carefully before taking any action. You don't want to be disrespectful and question his or her authority, but you should speak up if you can help with minor issues. For instance, if your next team-building event is a hike in the mountains, you might remind your manager that a fellow programmer who is eight months pregnant is not likely to make the trek and that a picnic in that same park might be more inclusive.
Real-life techniques can help you get more out of your relationships with TV-like bosses. Think carefully about how you can match your own work style to suit their preferences and you'll help to form the best possible connection with any supervisor.
Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations in North America, South America, Asia and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.