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How to Spot a Bad Boss

Bad Bosses Can Create An Unproductive Workplace Environment

Bad bosses can be insensitive to the needs of the employees; dis-organized in assigning work; poor supervisors; unfair evaluators; persistent criticizers; and even oppressive. At its extreme, bad bosses can engage in sexual harassment and even bullying. If you have ever experienced such a boss, then this blog is for you.

Bosses come in all shapes and sizes, and have all types of different styles for dealing with their subordinates. But bad bosses all have certain traits in common. The following traits of bad bosses are not in order of any priority or other ranking criteria.

  • A bad boss takes credit for your work. The boss feels that all work developed under his or her leadership belongs to the boss.
  • A bad boss does not teach you on the job or correct your mistakes in a positive manner. There are no learning experiences.
  • A bad boss does not help to develop your abilities. The boss may fear your success.
  • Supervision is lax or non-existent. It’s sink or swim.
  • A bad boss is unclear about his or her expectations. You do not know exactly how you will be evaluated.
  • A bad boss doesn’t have clear goals about just what should be accomplished on a particular assignment. Attempts to get clarification fall on deaf ears.
  • A bad boss is highly disorganized. They are unable to explain just how the job should get done.
  • A bad boss sets a lot of meetings but very little is ever accomplished. The boss likes to hear himself or herself talk.
  • A bad boss is on a power trip. The boss likes to criticize you to show who is in charge.
  • A bad boss is insensitive to your personal needs. There are no concessions when you ask for personal time off for health reasons or to care for family members.
  • A bad boss creates a highly competitive, even cutthroat environment, pitting one employee against another.
  • A bad boss never congratulates you for a job well done. You receive no (positive) feedback about job performance.

Perhaps the biggest problem in the workplace when led by a bad boss is it creates an environment of distrust and a lack of respect exists for the boss on the part of employees, and for the employees by the boss. Furthermore, the boss pretends to be accountable for actions but shifts the burden to employees for job problems and failures.

An effective workplace environment should foster effective two-way communication and create trust, responsibility and accountability. Unfortunately when led by bad bosses, standards such as those in corporate policies and a code of ethics tend to be hollow statements that can generate self-serving behavior which fails to integrate corporate goals into decision-making.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on March 20, 2012