Is Your Boss Mad?

The definitive guide to coping with your boss

By: Jill Walker


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 210mm x 148mm
Pages : 240
ISBN : 9781845900397
Format: Paperback
Published: March 2007

It wasn’t difficult to research this book. Poor management is sadly so very common. Almost everyone has a story about a mad bad boss they once worked for. Go on, ask!

If you’ve ever suffered because of the behaviour of a bad boss, this book will be of interest to you. You will learn how to deal with bosses who are bullies or who let you down. Is Your Boss Mad? helps you from the interview process, to identify what sort of boss you may be potentially letting yourself in for right from the start. The strategies suggested for coping with your mad boss are not hypothetical ‘airy’ ideas; they are hard boiled instructions for your communications, body language, and actions. It further suggests ways to bring a little levity to the workplace, without impacting on productivity or focus.

If I were a boss, I would want to read this too. There is already a recognised link between happy employees and happy customers, and it’s accepted that a happy customer is likely to be more valuable than an unhappy one. Do you have happy employees?

This is a book written with a passion born of experience. The author sincerely wishes to empower employees who can be, despite the plethora of management gurus and training courses, manipulated and who are seemingly powerless at the hands of their desperately inadequate managers.

The boss didn’t come with a user manual till now!

Picture for author Jill Walker

Jill Walker

Jill Walker found her way into the workforce by accident and at the age of 16 followed her father into the world of ship broking, achieving the obscure record of being the youngest woman admitted to the floor of the Baltic Exchange. Now working for a software company, her career has allowed her to travel extensively and gain access to many executives of the US and UK's top 500 companies. This has given her an incisive view of the world of business and management.


  1. Given that many general dental practitioners will be bosses themselves, this 200-page paperback may be useful in giving readers an insight into the shortcomings of the manager from the perspective of the employee.

    Is your boss mad? The definitive guide to coping with your boss, to give it its full title, is designed to help employees deal with difficult employers or, more accurately, the difficult situations that arise when dealing with employers, and this surely works both ways.

    The preface says: “This book is not aimed at work-shy, soap-dodging, unambitious couch potatoes”. The author continues: “It is a plain guide for coping in the face of madness - from others, and from your own madness if things are getting too much” and it sets out to provide coping strategies.

    However, these strategies depend upon certain factors, which include turning up for work on time, dressed appropriately; and the employee being qualified for the job. The author describes different types of so-called “mad” bosses. Interestingly, these boss types really exist but are often a composite of the “pure” types outlined here. While emphasising that bosses are also human beings the author goes on to explain: “This is not a book about the particular personalities of some bosses, but a guide that will help you recognise generalities and deeper patterns, and how personal pressures, fears and drivers influence the -˜mad' behaviour of bosses.”

    Perhaps the emphasis on the “mad boss” in the title is selling this book short because, in truth, this book is about communication and conflict issues within the workplace and these affect everyone - employer and employee alike.
  2. This book offers advice on how to retain your self-respect in the workplace as well as guidance on asserting your rights at work.

    It is useful for bosses as well, because offering strategies that develop the morale of staff eventually trickle down to customers and clients.

    The book deals with scenarios like the long hours culture imposed upon the imaginary Marcus by "Long Hours" George. George is a boss who doesn't delegate and thinks long hours represent loyalty and dedication. in fact George, is a joyless fellow who nags rather but crucially cannot create strategies for getting the job done without overloading himself and others.

    Marcus however, buys time and restates his own position; he learns to agree a reasonable completion time with Marcus. Jill points out how to say 'no' calmly to ensure that Marcus is fully aware of reasonable bottlenecks in George's schedule. It is important for Marcus to have empathy for George as he is challenging his years of emotional investment in somewhat uncreative work patterns. Jill has lots of positive ideas on how to delegate upwards and to develop her effectiveness at the same time. She shows how not to get ground down.

    There's a lot to take in but this book is good on the various weird bosses you can encounter throughout your working life.

    There's inconsistent Mr Moody and Mrs Micro-manager, a bi-polar sales manager and an aggressive fear merchant.

    It suggests ways to cope and warns about taking the tensions home. There are extra chapters on interviews and how to leave when the time comes, A useful book but not really a substitute for a subscription to a good union.
  3. For anyone who has ever found that the boss who interviewed them was totally different from the one who they now work for ” even though they are the same person ” then this book is for you!

    I found myself relating back to past bosses as I read the different profiles and thinking how different work could have been if I had known this stuff earlier. It profiles 9 of the main styles of “mad' bosses and managers, highlights their key warning signs and gives you plenty of tips for counteracting and dealing with their quirks and irritations.

    Littered with case studies and anecdotes, which are both funny and sad at the same time, this book is brilliant. If you work as an employee, then please get this book. Even if you are happy with your current boss, it's a good idea to have a “heads up' before you go for your next interview. You may find it saves your sanity. And if you are already a boss or manager, then read this so that you can understand how your “madness' affects your staff.

    4 stars
  4. This is definitely one of those books you've probably wondered whether someone has taken the time to write after a particularly frustrating day with their boss. Well someone has indeed put finger to keyboard and the result is a fairly interesting read.

    There is an element of attempting to empower the workforce with some of the topics covered which are, at the same time, both basic if not a little futuristic in their thinking. This appears to be a book borne out of personal experience and covers a multitude of scenarios most of us have been exposed to at one time or another.

    This book lends itself to the prospect of being able to influence the boss providing. for example, suggestions on how to conduct that all important initial job interview to understand what kind of person you might end up working for. Tips on how to 'manage' your boss, their outbursts and lack of direction all add up to added power to the worker's elbow.

    Conversely for those of us who have been or are considering being a boss, there are some handy hints to move from being the ogre to the object of admiration. This includes such time honoured favourites as inclusion of everyone in decision making and the all important skills of communication, communication, communication.

    The real nub of the book however is split into sections according to what type of boss you might work for. Walker has split the head honchos of commerce and industry into nine categories, the details of which take up some 70% of the book's content. Each section details the traits expected of bosses falling into the various categories and how a change of behaviour on the part of the employee might help alleviate any painful clashing of heads.

    However the content is made slightly heavy with tong winded case studies' of how employees have been affected by the behaviour of their boss. Although they do help to put the categorisations in context, I'm not convinced the length of them is warranted. That said, there are some fairly useful anecdotal points raised such as attempting to understand some of the more odd foibles of our bosses and how we might deal with these without having steam coming out of our ears.

    Although intended to get a serious message across there are elements of the way the book is written which raises a smile. You may have a superior who falls under the category of a 'Boss in Love' who loses all capability of national thought after falling victim to cupid's arrow. However there is a fly in the ointment - you may be the object of his or her affections " so what do you do now, ignore or encourage?

    On a more serious note, the content also covers how to deal with bosses who are bullies. Practical advice on where to turn in times of distress provide a reference framework all too lacking at times throughout the book. However the ten-page chapter on stress and how to deal with it provides a suitable backdrop to the subject of how mad or bad bosses can, as research has proven, be the instigators of stress.

    The author comments that it was not difficult to research the book which unfortunately points to the fact that poor management is still so very common. What the book does show us is that with a little forethought the employee can help influence the state of mind of the boss by, for example, introducing a little levity into the workplace.

    This book allows anyone to identify, from the start, what sort of boss they may be letting themselves in for. Strategies suggested are practical and straightforward and focus on improving communication skills, body language and actions. This book also works for bosses if only to understand what category they fall into and what effect they have on their teams.

    An important message being conveyed here is that the behaviour of bosses can seem surreal and unacceptable at times but this is often done out of ignorance rather than deliberately. To help the boss realise this. the worker is equipped with some remedies having read the book.

    The book's publishers extol the virtues of this publication along the lines of 'it reasserts the fact that not all is lost in the working world just because your boss couldn't organise the proverbial drink-up in a brewery!!' In some ways the reader of the book might need that drink to get through some of the more laborious parts of it.
  5. Is Your Boss Mad?, by Jill Walker, is published by Crown House, priced '£12.99. Available now.

    By Hannah Stephenson, PA Features

    Anyone hooked to the BBC series The Apprentice will see the new recruits trying to impress their prospective boss Sir Alan Sugar.

    He may be a hard taskmaster, but he is also often the voice of reason, unlike so many bosses we encounter in the workplace who are virtually impossible to deal with.

    But now businesswoman Jill Walker, who has gained access to many executives in the US and UK top 500 companies, has created profiles of typical bosses and come up with a guide on how to deal with your boss, entitled Is Your Boss Mad?
    She explains: “As an employee you cannot just do what you want. You have to heed the wishes of others and at times you will interpret these wishes as evidence of madness, or badness, or sheer incompetence. However, that person is probably getting paid more than you, has more clout than you and unfortunately may have the power to relieve you of your position. These poor bosses will make the mistake of imagining there are plenty more where you came from.”

    Can you recognise your boss in any of Walker's profiles?


    Traits: Moody, aggressive, shouts a lot, inconsistent, forgetful, a loner. Has often been promoted as a reward but not given the training and therefore the tools to complete his new role. Is unsure of how friendly to be. One minute is helpful and supportive, the next aggressive and distant.

    Analysis: Managers who have been promoted from within the team often struggle with their credibility in front of old colleagues. Racked with insecurity, they worry if their ex-team mates are taking advantage of their relationship to pull the wool over their eyes.

    Coping: Change your responses to get control back and keep him guessing. React or don't react but just behave in the opposite ways to what you used to do. Make physical changes such as postural and voice changes. Slowly let it be known that you won't accept poor treatment any longer.

    Practical changes: Arrive on time, even if you have to get an earlier train. Change your appearance, whether it's a haircut or a new suit - but don't discuss it. Adjust your voice. Lower it when you are making a serious complaint. It will give you power.


    Traits: He's depressing, he nags, creates an unhappy environment, refuses to try new ideas, doesn't like to delegate, and thinks long hours represent loyalty, dedication and good work.

    Analysis: If the boss gets in early and leaves very late, he's struggling. Long hours at the workplace are an attempt to cover weakness and lack of ability.

    Coping: Ignore the long hours culture and stick to your contract, politely but firmly. Soon Mr Long Hours will start to feel uncomfortable because you are raising the thought that if it's possible for other people to work here within normal working hours, why can't he?

    Practical changes: When you take on a task, speak to the boss and agree the completion time for it. That time must be within working hours of your contract. Communicate clearly about the work you will be able to complete and when.

    Be a shining star, occasionally. When the team is under pressure, roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the job. If you are really supportive at pivotal moments, people will notice. Intermittently go the extra mile but don't do it too often.


    Traits: Checks everything you do, destroys your confidence, crushes creativity and enjoys exerting power. Uses expressions such as, “Just copy me in on that, will you?”, “Better let me handle that,” and “Don't change anything without letting me know.”

    Analysis: Here we have another frightened boss, lacking in confidence, who finds it hard to delegate, hard to trust and is frightened of mistakes being made that could reflect badly on him.

    Coping: Give yourself some space and plan a strategy. You know that trying harder is not going to work. Let the boss correct and enhance your work as much as he likes, but make sure it has your name all over it. If it's a drawing, sign it. If it's a presentation, tell everyone about your presentation. Don't badmouth anyone in public as it will act against you.

    Practical changes: Cut your power crazy boss out of the loop. If the boss wants you to run everything by him first, somehow forget to do this. At first, gently forget to check things with him, preferably the stuff you are 100% confident about. If you are questioned, stand your ground, act as if this is the way you always do things and look puzzled if challenged. Make out it was so trivial that it wasn't worth his time.


    Traits: Easy interview and hiring process, initially a friendly boss, but soon becomes aggressive, remote and unsupportive, distancing himself from you as your manager.

    Analysis: The employee may not be able to cope with the job and is faced with unfamiliar procedures and irritation among fellow workers who have to cover. It often goes wrong at the interview stage if the boss and prospective employee let the meeting drift from an assessment to a more informal process.

    Coping: Stick at it. If there has been a breakdown in the communication of your role, address it aggressively as soon as possible. Facing your fear head on is a great way to dissolve it. Don't compound the issue by trying to cope.

    Practical changes: Consider taking a training course. Focus on why you wanted the role and use that determination to fulfil it efficiently.


    Traits: Stern, charming but cool, an aggressive communicator who encourages cliques, is manipulative and unpredictable. He doesn't allow for any discussion on a decision. Has a habit of calling people seemingly jovial nicknames which are actually quite insulting and humiliating.

    Analysis: He doesn't care about how you work, but he is very interested in what you deliver or achieve. He generates misery in the working world. He weaves his fear to make sure of securing his own success, surrounds himself with a clique of favourites and creates a situation where you become desperate to be in. Colleagues who are in may unwittingly start to go against those who are out.

    Coping: Challenge these behaviours and learn from them. Mirror his communication style - be brief, be aggressive and forget the niceties. Look him straight in the eye when speaking to him. He may be in the habit of invading your personal space. If you are sitting at your desk and he perches on it, stand up, but keep close to the centre of your territory so that you take control of the space.

    Practical changes: If he calls you by a nickname, don't answer to it. Don't play his game or react to his body language. When confronted, he will usually retreat because he doesn't want trouble, he just wants the job well done.
  6. This book could save your life. It's a surgical handbook for managing your boss better than they manage you. Also works for marriages.
  7. How refreshing to finally see a user manual for dealing with your boss! Jill Walker, the Sussex based author has come up trumps with this definitive guide on dealing with, well lets just say, not the perfect manager. Jill herself acknowledges that although the book has not been written very seriously, the issues and advice she gives is deadly serious. With most of us spending a large proportion of our lives trying to please the person we work for and, at times finding ourselves working in unhappy circumstances, Is Your Boss Mad, aims to create a short cut from our unhappiness, to a strategy bringing about the changes to our work situation, and our attitude towards it.

    Organised with chapter by chapter guidelines, covering nine profiles of “mad bosses' from Mr Long Hours trough the No Power Boss to the Boss In Love, Jill provides the reader with a quick check box to identify the traits of the boss in question at the beginning of each chapter, some case study examples and ideas on how to formulate a strategy to effectively deal with them. Each chapter is summarised with bullet points making it easier for the reader to remember Jill's recommendations.

    One chapter in particular grabbed my attention focussing on the interview process we all dread when looking for a career progression or change. No need to worry, the interview also gives you a chance to assess the person you would be working for and see if they possess any of the unsavoury characteristics the book describes.

    As a senior manager myself, the book made me think how my team would describe my style or indeed conclude that I am mad. I hope not and will continue to assess my own actions using the book as a guideline so the team continue to think I'm sane. Sure this could be debated!

    Jill herself states “I have suffered at the hands of a poor boss, and it's hell to go through. This book was written with a passion borne of experience and I sincerely hope it will help people who find themselves in similar situations.” Since reading the book Jill I am sure it will.

    So, is your boss mad? Read it and find out exactly how mad they are! Jill's passion for the subject definitely shows through in the writing style and I am sure readers will find humour, identity and a possible changed view of their position should they find themselves working for someone who fits one of the profiles contained within its covers. I must make a mental note here, Ill look out for copies in my teams' offices, just to make sure!
  8. This is much more than an inspired self-help guide for the embattled employee. Jill Walkers knowledgeable and entertaining book should be required reading for managers everywhere. They say that people work better when they feel good about themselves, so how hard can good management be? Keep this book visible. Theyll know youre on to them.

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