Bad Bosses by Vicky Oliver

A number of factors distinguish Vicky Oliver’s contributions to the world of non-fiction business self-help books and her individualistic edge is evident in her most recent publication Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots: 201 Smart Ways to Handle the Toughest People Issues. It mixes practical advice with humor, yet Oliver maintains an effective balance between those elements rather than undercutting the serious intent at the heart of her book. She hopes to provide readers with meaningful guidance about navigating the ins and outs of office politics and framing  it in an approachable presentation deepens its impact for readers. This is a book containing abundant information and showing off a likable side throughout its length.


She divides the book into three parts – the first part deals with “bosses from hell”. Oliver examines the issue of dealing with difficult and/or demanding superiors. She introduces reders to her design for the book – she presents specific manifestations of problems in each chapter and follows up with solutions for them. She never belabors her point – she presents the scenarios and remedies with condensed focus rather than venturing off into long-winded and self-indulgent passages examining the problem and answer in excruciatingly needless detail. Her advice is common sense, for the most part, but Oliver does rely on clear research at various points throughout the book that further strengthen her ideas.

The second part of the book addresses co-existing with other problematic employees. You don’t have to pursue professional careers to find merit in Oliver’s ideas. Any adult who has worked as part of a larger employment team knows there are potential pitfalls when working alongside others. Personalities and neuroses are various and often call upon every fiber of our available patience and calm to contend with. Oliver, once again, frames the issue as a series of problems followed by her proposed answers for each difficulty. One of the book’s underrated strengths is its sound psychological basis and few portions of the book illustrate it better than the second and third parts of Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.

 The third part of the book looks at when the problem is you. It deals with an assortment of personality types and the common roles they assume within their working lives – the employee who can’t stand the job and counts the minutes until they have time off, the employee who feels their authority is undercut too often, and so on. You get a wide measure of Oliver’s vast experience dealing with these subjects just by the sheer distance she covers – there is, to borrow a phrase, no stone left unturned in these three parts.


Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots: 201 Smart Ways to Handle the Toughest People Issues isn’t a brief work in its paperback edition, running over four hundred and fifty pages, but it is a remarkably breezy read despite its length. Readers, moreover,  benefit from construction and a subject allowing them to delve into the book at any point and take away something from the text; it isn’t a book demanding to be read in traditional linear fashion. Vicky Oliver’s title are proven winners and this book rates among her best.

Clay Burton