Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” – Sun Tzu
If you’re dragging your feet to work every day because dealing with your manager has made the office a toxic mess, you’re in good company. According to one recent survey, three out of four employees say that their boss is the “worst and most stressful part” of their workplace.
A bad boss doesn’t just make work unpleasant, but can also do serious damage to your career growth and personal life. That’s precisely why it’s important that you learn how to spot these bad bosses from the get-go — even as early as the job interview, is possible. And who knows? Maybe when it’s your turn to wear the boss hat, you’ll do much better.
He’s a micromanager.
If your boss watches you like a hawk, demands constant updates throughout the day, and NEEDS to sign off on every little thing you do, then you’ve got a helicopter manager (and our sympathies).
An overly generous person would call these micromanagers simply “passionate”, but anyone who’s had to work with one knows how impossible it can be to get anything done when someone’s pestering you for updates. Plus, it’s demoralizing to work for someone who doesn’t trust you enough to give you some freedom.
She’s quick to criticize, but rarely gives praise.
Part of good leadership is making employees feel valued. While we all need to hear negative feedback to grow and become better, if your boss gives only negative feedback in spite of your kickass performance, then that’s messed up.
His moods are unpredictable.
Our bosses are human too, and are bound to have their bad days. But if your boss has frequent Jekyll-and-Hyde moments in the office, and regularly lashes out at you and your coworkers, that’s bound to create a high-stress unprofessional atmosphere. While it’s tempting to fight fire with fire, the best you can do in the meantime is to not take the mood swings personally and concentrate on getting the job done.
She acts like she’s trying to win the Game of Thrones.
We’ve all seen these types on reality shows, but sometimes are unfortunate enough to encounter them in the workplace. These bosses are sh*t stirrers, overly concerned with forging alliances and obsessed with taking down people who stand in their way. They’re quick to take credit for your work, and when they’re being nice to you, you can’t help but think that there must be a catch. Watch your back.
He plays favorites.
When a boss makes it clear that they have a favorite, that essentially pits employees against each other. They may not be aware that they’re treating their employees unfairly, but it’s only a matter of time before favoritism starts affecting productivity. Why would employees work hard when they’re not going to get the recognition they deserve, right?
She keeps messaging you after hours/on weekends/your day off.
Usually, these bosses are such workaholics that they don’t understand the concept of work-life balance or personal time. But you’re entitled to taking a break, especially if you’ve given ample notice beforehand. If you find yourself in this situation, try to set boundaries by letting your boss know that you’ve got things under control and that you will be responding to emails when you get back.
He doesn’t seem to care about your career growth.
When was the last time your boss talked to you about your future plans? Does he seem more concerned about keeping you where you are rather than discussing your growth? Does he take resignations personally?
A good boss cares about uplifting employees by giving them new skills that they can use to progress their career. These bosses understand that investing in employees doesn’t just make them more marketable, but also benefits the company by having skilled workers.
It’s a little more challenging to spot an incompetent boss because they often hide behind their employees to get their jobs done. When asked for feedback, these managers give vague advice that’s not helpful at all. They don’t have any ideas, they can’t make decisions, and when they do, they’re often terrible.
What do you do when you find yourself working for an inept manager? While it may be tempting to badmouth your boss, doing so could bite you in the ass if you speak to the wrong person. It’s best to focus on what you can do to make up for your boss’s incompetence. That could mean helping your boss address her weak spots, or simply focusing on getting the job done. And of course, knowing when to leave doesn’t hurt.
Have you had a terrible boss? Share with us your experience below!