National Survey Reveals Stories of Grinches, Ice Queens and Tiny TOTs

Santa Monica, CA, December 2, 2009 — If you’ve been working for a Grinch, Ice Queen or a “Tiny TOT” boss during the past tumultuous year, there is hope – or at least holiday cheer of the commiseration kind.

In a recent national survey commissioned by Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, respondents shared boss anecdotes that were more reminiscent of amped-up tots in toyland than professionals at work. Says Taylor, “The study’s anecdotes are proof positive that when it comes to the office, ‘the child within’ should stay there.”

Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant™ (TOT): How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley), is CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting (LTC), which coaches CEOs on boosting morale and profits – that is, mitigating “TOT” (Terrible Office Tyrant) behavior that hurts productivity. The global firm that conducted the survey collected over 1,000 boss stories, some of which follow:

Tantrum Throwing

  • “The boss missed his flu shot and started screaming at me so that the entire office heard him.” (Obviously something was already “bugging” him.)
  • “The senior VP threw a fit because a new employee took the last cookie in the break room.” (Maybe there was no warm milk there, either.)
  • “As he stomped out of company meetings the boss would growl under his breath.” (These days if you listen closely, it’s “Bah, humbug.”)
  • “At the headquarters office, she’d wag her finger, then immediately throw something.” (Her rattle, perhaps?)
  • “The boss called everything we did ‘trash.’ Then one day the owner overheard it, and he was dismissed in two weeks.” (Was Santa peeking through the vent?)
  •  “My boss left her briefcase at a client’s office, and then screamed at me because I didn’t immediately have an answer for what to do.” (A good case for having that handy Magic 8-Ball.)

Taylor says that toddlers and “Terrible Office Tyrants,” whether bosses, co-workers or team members, both throw tantrums because they all have trouble modulating their power. She offers some solace, however: “If there’s something in it for your boss, you can usually effect change.”

Taylor suggests using C.A.L.M. when managers slip into TOT moments:

Communicate – Bravely and frequently reach out to your boss – and be aware of your TOT’s preferred communication method, e.g., e-mails, voice mails, meetings or texts.

Anticipate – Know your timing, and bring solutions to meetings, not problems.

Laugh – Use levity to break down barriers and forge bonds, even with seeming adversaries.

Manage – Assume a “parental” role without patronizing, use proactive problem solving and positive role modeling, but always set limits to bad behavior. If matters are egregious or escalate, take more serious action.


  • “My boss decided to move into a larger office, so he made every employee move to accommodate him.” (He was always good at “musical chairs.”)
  • “She asked me to go get her a latte and a biscotti. I got into a car accident, and when I got back, she only asked me if I got her the food.” (Was she teething?)
  • “The team received a plaque for developing a great program, but the boss hung it in his office even though he didn’t play any role at all.” (And he basked in his reflection off its epoxy resin.)
  • “My boss said I could not speak with her unless I first asked permission.” (Would that be “Mother may I?”)
  • “The CEO almost rammed my car when I parked in an unmarked spot that ‘belonged’ to her.” (She needed to learn not to break other people’s toys.)
  • “My manager made me work late because her boss took a day off for shopping, and my manager couldn‘t.” (“If I can’t have fun no one else will either!” said the Grinch.)

A related survey commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting found that bad, childish boss behaviors have increased over a five-year period, with self-centeredness moving to the top. The good news, according to Taylor, is that these traits can be defused by understanding their causes and by being proactive.


  • “My boss gave gifts to those employees who kissed up to him, not those who did the best work.“  (He never really “got” those Rudolph lyrics.)
  • “The boss would spend the first half hour in the morning singing and the whole department was forced to listen.” (He was out of tune with the need for peace on earth and goodwill to staff.)
  • “At Friday staff meetings, our boss would often ask if we wanted to hang with her, which we didn’t.” (A severe case of separation anxiety.)
  • “He asked me five times if I thought his wireless presentation made a good impression.” (Look Ma, no hands!)
  • “The boss would come by every two hours to see if I ‘needed any help.’” (Pacifier anyone?)
  • “Our boss loves to talk and so she keeps all kinds of candy in her office so people will come in.” (It’s the most wonderful time…of her day!)

“Keep in mind,” Taylor says, “that a needy TOT can have an overwhelming feeling of neglect, but this can be a good time to get your projects approved.”

Taylor’s holiday tip: if your boss is a TOT or Scrooge don’t allow your holidays to be hijacked. According to Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT), you can learn to manage your manager, while youhumanize your workplace. You’ll have a healthier start to 2010 – and others will thank you for it.

Watch YouTube for additional childish boss stories.

Lynn Taylor (Southern California) is a nationally recognized workplace expert and author of the newly released book, Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant™ (TOT): How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley & Sons). Taylor is a regular online contributor to national business and psychology publications. As the CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, she provides seminars on building a more productive, profitable management team and workforce. For more information,, Lynn Taylor Consulting or their blogs – or call 1-800-454-0083.
Lynn Taylor Consulting