Tag Archives: Quitting & Letting Go

Ten signs of a bad boss

Ten signs of a bad boss

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.

9. Micro-manages

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.

Fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it

Everyone faces times when they feel like a fraud; some people live their entire lives with that feeling. Many artists confess to this, especially writers.  David Duchovny’s character in Californication proclaims that he’s a writer that doesn’t write. Boy I can relate to that. Interestingly enough, sometimes this feeling persists despite all of the evidenceContinue Reading

When did “I wanna hold your hand” become “I wanna bend u ovah”?

When did “I wanna hold your hand” become “I wanna bend u ovah”?

If you ever needed proof that time are achangin’ look no further than the lyrics kids listen to. “I wanna busta cap in dat Mother#u!ka*’s head” and “I wanna get f*!k*d” are par for the course in much of today’s youth music culture, and it makes the sixties Beatle song “I wanna hold your hand”Continue Reading

Having trouble improving a relationship? Try this:

A few days ago I listened to Doug Stevenson—teacher of the Story Theater Method—share how he improved his relationship with his young step-son. Doug related how hard he was trying to communicate with his teenage stepson and that nothing seemed to work. His communications were being ignored, or mis-understood and he was getting nowhere fast.Continue Reading

Steve Jobs on living, loving and learning

Steve Jobs on living, loving and learning

My sister told me about Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address where Jobs told three stories about his life that bring powerful perspecitve to education, work and life.  The speech is embedded below and here’s my take on those three stories. 1. Education – don’t be a sheep about it I think most people knowContinue Reading

Why I don’t recommend DVORAK

On April 5th, 2011 I ended a 17month affair with the DVORAK system of typing. It really was more than an affair as I officially stopped using QWERTY (after some three decades of cold hard typing) and began my first tentative and clumsy keystrokes on a DVORAK keyboard. I quit QWERTY because DVORAK seemed muchContinue Reading

How to NOT be a cry-baby

My last post dealt with the very real consequences to you of the bad habit – and it is a bad habit – of taking things personally. If you tend to take things personally, others around you will notice and will take care to either avoid sensitive topics or avoid you all together.  Either wayContinue Reading

The thing about taking things personally

The thing about taking things personally

Have you heard the old joke about the guy who walks into the doctors office and says, “Doc, it hurts everytime I do this,” as he demonstrates bending his arm at the elbow; to which the doctor replies “Well stop doing that.” Taking things personally is just like that. It hurts when we do itContinue Reading

In defense of Gossiping

In my last post I wrote about the Consequences of Gossiping and like most things in life there are many shades of grey.  Below there is an amusing story about gossiping that suggests that while you are well advised to remove yourself from gossip it is not wise to be completely oblivious to it. Here’sContinue Reading

Five consequences of gossiping you shouldn’t ignore

Five consequences of gossiping you shouldn’t ignore

The essence of practice is the consciousness or intention you bring to the practice – something that you willingly choose to participate in every day.  Long held practices take on a life of their own and if there is no clear purpose to the practice we call them habits. For some gossiping is a habit,Continue Reading

Hidden Rivalry

I was sitting with an old friend the other day, and she described something her friend observed in his conversation with her the day before.  He said, “You ever notice that you’re always trying to get one up on me in our conversations?”   “What do you mean” she replied.   “I say something aboutContinue Reading

Acknowledging what’s there

Feel like typing this morning.  Talking with my fingers.  Usually I prefer to handwrite with my fountain pen in the mornings.  Very therapeutic I find … a good way to corral “free radical” thoughts that could do damage if not captured and put away somewhere.  This morning my computer seems the best place to doContinue Reading

Rain, Rain, Rain

Whoever said, “Into every life a little rain must fall,” knew what she was talking about; but this is ridiculous.  It’s rained almost every day since I’ve been here in Trinidad and yesterday it rained all day – much of it torrential.  On the narrow congested road to where my parents live, there were partsContinue Reading

Breakthrough in being with another’s POV

The other day I was having a drink with a good friend of mine and he began to relate his impression of one of the political candidates in the upcoming election.  To say that his view was completely at odds with my own is to put it mildly.  What was really interesting though was thatContinue Reading

“Something’s Wrong”

The other day a friend of mine called me to share that he had a huge breakthrough while sitting on the can.  He thought that last bit of detail essential to his story.  (smile) The breakthrough that he had during his biological “functioning” was that he was automatically and unconsciously coming from “Something’s wrong.” FromContinue Reading



“This is a gel Sir. And you’re not allowed to take more than 3.4 ozs of gel on board,” said the security officer as I avoided his gaze. I could feel the irritation rising up within me. After all, I had gone through several airport security checkpoints with said gel and had never been questioned.Continue Reading

Embrace Your Big Fat Ass

Embrace Your Big Fat Ass

You heard me! It’s big, it’s round, it’s talked about, it’s yours. So learn to love it. That’s essentially what “Embracing Your Big Fat Ass: An Owner’s Manual,” is all about. While big fat asses may not be high on your issues list, this funny book is worth a read. The authors (Laura Banks andContinue Reading

Who is this person I’m in a relationship with?

I’m a big fan of the movie Crash because it did an excellent job of illustrating this point:the greatest good and the greatest evil lies within us all. What got me writing about it now is a couple that I know that is going through a rocky period. I’m not going to describe details …Continue Reading

Getting even

Getting even

I am a big proponent of “letting go,” as an essential practice in living my life as a practice. That’s a very challenging thing to do when you grow up in a world that teaches you that there are people who are bad and wrong, and where there is no distinction between the behavior andContinue Reading

Learning to let go

I use the word “learning” instead of “learn” because letting go is an art that you will spend your life practicing. Yet this is nothing to be discouraged about. The whole idea of living your life as a practice is that there is no final state of perfection. You always can improve. Letting go isContinue Reading

Angry people

So I was at the club of a good friend of mine last night. If you live in New York and like live music its called Rose. Anyway my friend Carlo asked me to help him diffuse a situation with a young man who was apparently causing some concern from Carlo for his place andContinue Reading