A bad boss is an employee’s worst nightmare. The moment you realise your boss compares unfavorably with Cruella D’ville, your stomach sinks and you realise it is time to look for a new position.
If you need a checklist to decide how terrible your boss really is, consider how many of the following “bad boss” traits your manager exhibits:
Abrasive communication style. We’re all stressed out at some point, but if your boss cannot communicate a problem or concern without berating or yelling, she’s missing key management skills and likely won’t keep highly qualified employees for long.
Poor planning skills. You’ve heard the adage, “Your poor planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Your boss, however, makes no efforts to plan ahead or to anticipate concerns down the road. The result is that your team seems to jump from emergency to emergency, and you constantly need to put your own life on hold as a result. If your boss always seems to operate one step away from disaster and can’t ever seem to get a handle on what needs to be done, the team inevitably suffers.
Expects you to read his mind. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had ESP and could anticipate our boss’ every need before he even had a chance to express it? Unfortunately, it’s a pipe dream for even the best employees. If your boss consistently expects you to know what is next, but doesn’t do a good job of providing the context to make sure you can be successful, he is setting you up to fail.
Lack of decision-making abilities. “Wishy washy” is not an adjective that describes a great boss. The worst bosses collect all the information and still can’t make choice. When aboss is not a good leader, ramifications can go beyond just whether the decisions at hand are good or bad. A lackluster leader likely doesn’t have a lot of influence with higher-ups, which can negatively affect everyone on that person’s team when it comes time for bonuses, raises or promotions.
Takes credit for the good and passes blame for the bad. This is probably one of the worst and often-reported traits of a bad boss. If your boss has the tendency to pass the buck when things get rough, but is the first to ask for a pat on the back when all is well, you know you won’t be able to trust him to support you and your career.
Cannot provide constructive criticism. When your boss has no problem telling you you’re doing something wrong, but cannot provide any insights regarding how to improve, it’s a bad sign. Employees have a right to expect bosses will be able to offer some mentoring and direction; it’s part of a manager’s job description. If your boss lacks this key ability, it may be time to look for a new boss.
Arrogance. This characteristic is hard to take in anyone, but most especially the person who manages you. If your boss knows everything and can do no wrong, it’s a good idea to seek greener pastures unless you are exceptionally tolerant.
Uncaring. Even an otherwise ineffective boss can get away with a lot if employees believe she cares about them. If your boss could care less about your family emergency or is on the phone to you in your hospital bed asking when you’ll be back at work, it’s pretty clear your well being isn’t high on the priority list.
Uses fear tactics. If your boss motivates by fear more than any other tactic, it’s a sign that he lacks leadership skills necessary to do the job. Perhaps he is intimidated or unsure how to get results without relying on threats or other fear mongering, but no matter the reason, it’s not helping the organisation or the employees.
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