I’m going to make some assumptions about you. You are hardworking, professional, reliable, skilled, generally positive, productive, smart, strategic, and a problem solver. In short, you are the ideal technical writer. In a civilized culture where bosses are sensible, fair, and invested in your success, that should be enough to succeed. If you are a great employee but dealing with some serious office Darwinism, there is a whole different set of rules. You are doing well just surviving each day without becoming another morsel on the food chain. If it’s gotten that bad, you could do with some tips from the animal world.
The Bear Boss
Bear-type bosses may have displayed protectiveness toward you before, but those days are over. They now see you as an obstacle between themselves and their goal, so be warned — a mauling may be imminent. The most important thing for you to do is to keep yourself from being perceived as an obstacle. Make the bear’s goals your own. Bears hate surprises, so make sure you never sneak up on one. Hikers wear bells to announce themselves to bears as they approach, but you can be more subtle. Carry coins in your pocket or jangle keys as you walk. Be calm in the face of a bear attack. Don’t make eye contact. Back away slowly. Give them space. Invest in bear repellent.
The Lion Boss
Lion-type bosses always saw you as prey. They have never had any interest in your success and have been looking for you to drop far enough away from the herd to attack. They may have toyed with you, taken a swipe at you professionally or stalked you in the hallway. But mostly, they’ve just been enjoying your pain. When lion-types attack, make a lot of noise. Yell. Wave your arms. Call for HR. Throw things. Protect your head and neck. Whatever you do, don’t run. That just makes it more fun for them.
The Wolf Boss
Wolf-type bosses are often the most dangerous. They are, however, the easiest to identify because they travel in packs. Packs can form naturally when companies merge or new leadership starts staffing up with former coworkers. Your best bet is to become part of the dominant pack. Scan the wolf dens for clues on how to become a member. Read the books they’ve read and learn how the pack howls. Identify the alpha dog. Bring your kill (accounts, project victories, etc.) to him or her. Let them know you are ready to eat the young and the weak for the good of the pack. Avoid wearing wool.
The Honey Badger Boss
Good luck out in the wild!