Many bad bosses are nice people, but they all create unnecessary cost in high staff turnover and inefficiency. Motivation enough to get rid of them.
But from a purely human perspective, bad bosses give work a bad name. They fuel negative work conversations and provide ‘evidence’ that work cannot be enjoyable and productive.
Bad bosses limit human potential and often make life miserable for their employees. For employees who cannot easily find another job, a bad boss is like a life sentence to hard labour. They respond by being disengaged or actively dis-engaged at work (meaning they seek to destroy value by stealing, insulting customers and calling in sick).
Here are ten signs that when taken in clusters of three or more signal a bad boss;
1. Unpredictable moods
He’s either always in a bad mood or is prone to mood changes for no clear reason.
This is bad because mood affects our ability to work. Bad moods close possibilities for thinking and acting and good moods do the opposite.
The mood of leaders infects the team below them and great leaders create and sustain moods of openness, cooperation, trust and safety.
2. Makes unnecessary demands
I had a boss who believed that the way to get the most from a team was to have them in a state of stress. She created that stress by criticising and attacking so that team members felt constantly on edge.
She would create fake deadlines and have staff work over weekends or late nights and then not even read them until days after the false deadline.
Why? Sometimes it’s because of incompetence; bad bosses often can’t plan very well and they choose to get stuff done ‘just in case.’
Sometimes because of ego; it’s one way bullies exert dominance.
3. Won’t negotiate
A bad boss won’t negotiate and expects every request to be accepted without negotiation. Sub-ordinates feel they must say yes or suffer some consequence. These tyrant bosses create very stressful work environments that cause unhappiness and burnout where employees can’t easily leave, or high staff turnover when they can.
4. Doesn’t acknowledge good work
Good work doesn’t ever get noticed. It’s not that a good boss goes around praising everyone daily—that also becomes useless—but a good boss frequently lets people know that their good work is noticed and appreciated.
5. Doesn’t deal with poor performance
Leadership requires that poor performers be helped or transferred and when poor performers are left alone or even rewarded, high performers get that their work doesn’t matter. People stop trying.
6. Won’t admit mistakes
Bad bosses are always right, or rather they bully their position into being the right one.
They are destructive because they inherently won’t listen and learn from mistakes while not allowing others to feel that they contributed to anything but bad outcomes.
7. Won’t stand up for her people
A boss who won’t defend someone on her team from unfair and destructive attacks tells all her employees that they are on their own and that every man is for himself.
When things go right, such bosses often are quick to ride in and take undeserved credit.
8. Doesn’t encourage participation
Diversity is what makes life and teamwork interesting. Some people require time and a feeling of safety to be able to fully contribute and bad bosses leave them out. Bad bosses don’t allow them a feeling of safety and are often impatient and rude. The result is that good people feel needlessly threatened and disrespected which translates into poor performance even from stronger members who bristle at the way timid team members are treated.
Nothing says “I don’t trust you” like micro-management. Whether it’s because they feel employees will stop working the moment they stop looking over their shoulder, or because they are perfectionists, the result is the same. Micro-management kills creativity and productivity simply because no one feels that they have any control.
10. They are incompetent
Incompetence is only a problem when an incompetent pretends that he is not. When senior management allows an Incompetent boss to pretend competence for months or years, it creates dis-respect, frustration and anger among all those affected by that boss’ incompetence. Incompetent bosses often hide behind closed doors, and avoid making decisions.
Of course no boss is perfect and every boss has some aspects that are unpleasant and unproductive. Overall the best antidote to a bad boss is your own competence at what you do. Being good, rather very good at what you do gives you the power to stand up to a tyrant boss because he or she knows you could find another job.