Management Matters

What Makes a Bad Boss?

Date Posted: 11/27/2013

Let’s face it — to people who work for at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, most bosses come across more as devils rather than saints. Chances are that you yourself have had a boss that you didn’t particularly care for. Have you ever wondered how you measure up and how your employees see you as a boss? Do you think you’re a good boss or do you think your employees see you as a boss from hell? Below are some traits that may sound familiar. So, if you recognise any of them in yourself you may want to take note and consider making a few improvements. You’d be surprised at how small changes can improve a working environment and productivity.

The Tyrant

It’s not just about yelling at or slamming doors on employees but:

  • treating the workplace like a battleground and employees as soldiers under their command;
  • threatening to have people demoted or fired;
  • unnerving staff by a rude or curt attitude;
  • raising their voice a few decibels at meetings (maybe with a few insults thrown in at subordinates);
  • threatening or subjecting employees to public humiliation;
  • embarrassing employees by reprimanding them in front of others.

Sometimes anger is justified or even effective when used sparingly, but a boss who loses his or her temper too often can breed a climate of fear in the workplace which is demoralising for everyone.

The Indecisive Boss

Unlike the dictator, the common trait for this boss who dithers is a lack of firm decision making or in some cases complete avoidance. This type of boss is great at promising the moon as long as it doesn’t turn into any sort of commitment or fixed timetable. Being unsure, they sit on the fence and hope that someone else will step in and make a decision so they don’t have to take responsibility. They shy away from any sort of confrontation and have difficulty saying “No” which ultimately results in them not managing anything at all.

The Control Freak

Displaying a lack of confidence in their employees’ ability, this type of boss constantly looks over everyone’s shoulder and micro-manages every task. They never delegate and suffer anxiety in the absence of total control. In pursuit of perfection this boss can be found pouring over employees’ submissions and rewriting the entire lot.

The Insecure Boss

Reluctant to share information with juniors or co-workers, this boss views others as competitors who must be defeated in order to get ahead. They are quick to assign blame and at the same time are likely to be found taking credit for other people’s work and contributions. This boss won’t stand for being outshined.

The Impressive Boss

All style, no substance. This boss dresses the part but is clueless when it comes to the actual work. A common trait includes walking around with an air of superiority and an assistant in tow who can be turned to for answers. Not particularly competent, this type of boss is easily manipulated and has been promoted because of the ability to make an impression and not because of skill. As a result, it is almost impossible to get a proper decision out of this person with everything sounding like “a good idea”.

Are you guilty of any of the above? Let’s face it, no one is perfect. Although the traits we’ve described look like they make bad bosses fall into well-defined categories on paper, they are anything but tidy and compartmentalized. In a real work environment the lines tend to blur.

If you recognize some of these traits in yourself and have people working for you, take some time to regroup. By owning up to and coming to terms with your flaws you can learn to be a better boss and in doing so, get more out of your employees. Tweaking your management style can make a big difference toward getting results.

So, come on horrible bosses – there must be another way! Instead of driving your employees, coach them; instead of inspiring fear, generate enthusiasm; instead of saying “I” all the time, say “we”; instead of placing blame, work to find a solution; instead of blaming people, develop people; instead of taking credit, give credit; instead of commanding, ask!

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