Boss Attention Deficit Disorder

Doctors Can’t Treat It But You Can

He looks like an adult, but if you make a blunder just before lunchtime, watch out! Some bosses can easily revert to fussy, unrestrained babies in corporate suits. While out-of-line behavior portrayed in the “Horrible Bosses” movie is thankfully more fiction than the norm, you may be facing disguised babies in their terrible twos, otherwise known as a Terrible Office Tyrants – or TOTs for short. Rather than contemplating extreme measures from the popular movie, you can tame the more typical “bad boss” – and even thrive in the process.

My book Tame Your Terrible Office TyrantTM: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley) lists 20 classic types of bad boss behavior, such as: stubborn, demanding, fickle, self-centered, needy, whiny, tantrum-throwing, and the ever so annoying B.A.D.D. boss (for Boss Attention Deficit Disorder). With that short attention span communication becomes a real chore. There are, though, quite simple but also quite efficient techniques you can use to save your sanity and your job.

Toddler/Boss Parallels: SHORT ATTENTION SPAN

Toddler Behavior 1: Your child eats five chocolate cookies she got from a friend and spends the afternoon playing “trampoline” on the sofa, her bed, your bed, and the dog.

TOT Behavior 1: After her third espresso, you notice that your boss is talking on her cell phone, glancing at a webinar, checking e-mail, and texting while “listening” to you.

Toddler Behavior 2: You’re in a hurry and try to get your toddler to dress himself so you won’t be late for the kiddie gym class, again. He runs from room to room, turning it into a game, not noticing that you’re not smiling.

TOT Behavior 2: Your TOT brings you along so you can talk as he’s heading down to his car. However, he stops at every desk along the way to “touch base.” You never get to say anything except “Bye-bye.”


• Help yourself by keeping your baby/boss from having a mind that wanders. In meetings, focus on the objectives and make sure communications are lively and interesting.

• Babies like bright colors. Baby bosses like bright colors. Make your pie charts accordingly.

• Be vigilant. With a very busy boss, you have to watch for opportunities that will allow you to get his or her attention.

Use my book to find more tips on how to get attention when you need it (as well as avoid it when you don’t). For a quick reference, browse my blog at And since there is nothing like a smile to make a problem easier, watch this childish boss video for a light-hearted laugh.