How to Deal With A “Bananager”


There’s more pressure on those employed in this job market now than ever before to be indispensible — and compatible — with coworkers.  This is especially true with management.  Unfortunately, difficult managers are like the common cold virus: they don’t ever seem to go away.   Have a “bananager,” that is a manager that drives you bananas like the ones below?  Good news: there is “chicken soup.”   

The Diva.  Roll out the red carpet.  For this supervisor, manager means A-list star.  I reported to one of these types who threw tantrums when he could not get through immediately if he called into the office on one of the 12 crazy, busy phone lines.  How dare customers get priority over him?  The Diva boss also believes employee means servant.  He constantly told me, not asked me,  to bring him refreshments.   I still shudder when I see Diet Cokes.  Another time, I was told to call the phone company for him to set up service after his divorce and relocation to an apartment. 

What’s going on:  The Diva supervisor has subconscious feelings of insignificance.  As a child, he may have been the last one picked when his peers were choosing team mates.  As adults, these bosses unleash their wrath by “putting people in their places” before people put them in theirs.

How to cope:  Do not try to handle him at all – start job-hunting inside or outside the company.  Anyone who treats employees like waitstaff is not rational.  He will surely struggle with building a team, having It’s All About Me attitude.  As the old saying goes, “There is no I in team.”

The Power Tripper.  This manager is a cousin to the Diva.  Too bad, so sad for all those who don’t hail the king or queen.  My Power Tripper supervisor was named Molly, but that sounds deceptively sweet and warm, so let’s call her Hortense.  If you came back two minutes late from lunch, you owed Hortense two minutes at the end of the work day.  Occasional attempts to get accommodations or extensions on projects Hortense assigned were frowned upon, because as she put it, “It’s your job to bow to me, not my job to bow to you.”

What’s going on: These supervisors have a one-dimensional view of their roles, believing that control over employees is their only responsibility.  Other factors that make a good manager, like being a mentor and a system of support, do not come in to the picture. 

How to cope:  Power Tripper bosses should be treated like The Divas:  Run — don’t walk — to the nearest exit.

The Nervous Nelly.  They are not the worst of the worst, but can try your patience.  He may wring his hands, sweat profusely, and furrow his brow when someone comes to look in on your department.  It is not uncommon for him to ask ten times in one hour, “How are you coming on that?  Is it done yet?  When are you going to be done? Huh?”

What’s going on:  He lacks confidence, may be a rookie manager, or under tremendous pressure to get results. 

How to cope:  Constant reassurance is the key.  Proactively giving him updates before he gets on edge will make for smooth sailing, thus potentially leading to a positive professional relationship. 

The Figurehead.  Whenever you approach this supervisor with questions, she often can’t answer them.  Many times, employees are referred to her “advisors” for help.  Shockers of all shockers, she can’t perform most of the duties of your job; she has never held a position remotely similar to yours.

What’s going on:  Figureheads may not know all the ins and outs of the department like you, but may have exceptional delegation and critical thinking skills. 

How to cope:  The  five-year-old in you may feel like screaming, “It’s not fair!  Why is she the boss when I know more?”   But if the manager is likable, being as helpful as possible is the best bet.  You may become her “advisor.”  And that can definitely work in your favor when being considered for a promotion, or a letter of recommendation should you leave the company.