The top 10 tell-tale signs of a bad boss

Let’s face it; we’ve all seen and experienced bad bosses. There are the ones that bully, the ones that only care about themselves and their own career, the cowards that hide behind others, or the ones that drive you mad by telling you how to do your job in the tiniest level of detail.

Seeing bad bosses in action can be soul-destroying, especially if you’re doing a great job, but end up on the receiving end of one of them. Bad bosses cause so much unnecessary stress in the workplace and are a major cause of reduced productivity, under-performance, low morale and lack of team spirit.

The thing is that we are often not fully aware how bad our bosses make us feel … sometimes it’s just uncomfortable, or in the worst case, completely stressed out and worthless.

We work with so many different companies all over the world, across all industries and sectors – and our experience means we can tell whether someone is a good boss, or not, within seconds of meeting them and their team. You can just tell by what they say, how they say it and how they and their team behave.

So here are Sewells’ top 10 tell-tale signs of a bad boss:

  1. The Ego-Tripper – a boss that is arrogant, shows off at any opportunity and is in constant need of boosting his or her ego.
  1. The Coward – a boss that takes on no accountability and often hides behind others.
  1. The Micro-manager – a boss that believes he or she knows how others should do their job, who can’t trust people to just get on with their job and instead micromanages everything they do.
  1. The Incapable – a boss that has been promoted beyond his or her capabilities, has no clue how to do the job and has lost all respect of subordinates and co-workers.
  1. The Over-friendly “Mate” – a boss that inappropriately wants to be your best mate or nearest friend.
  1. The Bad Communicator – a boss that is unable to communicate anything effectively, be it the corporate strategy or individual performance feedback.
  1. The Plagiariser – a boss that takes credit for other people’s work or idea and passes it off as his/her own (especially to his/her boss).
  1. The Negative – a boss that just can’t say anything in a positive or engaging way and instead turns everything into doom-and-gloom.
  1. The Ego-Centric – a boss that doesn’t care about the people who work for him/her and is not interested in helping, coaching and developing anyone else but him or herself.
  1. The Criticiser – a boss that is quick to criticise mistakes others make and is unable to provide constructive feedback.

For us, each of these are clear signs of a bad manager and when you get a boss with one, or maybe two, of the signs then you can usually manage around them (not ideal, but do-able). What’s really problematic is when you end up with a boss that shows several of them at the same time. That’s when you may need help!


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