It's often said that people quit bosses, not jobs. A bad boss can make a good job miserable and a bad job unbearable. Beyond the negative impact on individual employees, ineffective managers can also cost companies tons of money in turnover and lost productivity.
While bosses may be "bad" for different reasons, there are a few traits that many of them have in common. From micromanagement to a lack of empathy, here are a few red flags to watch out for in a manager, according to research.
Micromanagement may be effective sometimes, but what if micromanagement exists across all functions of a business? And if employees are desirous to excel, shouldn’t they have the freedom to plan and execute on their own, based on the objectives set by their bosses? In my humble opinion, micromanaging not only limits an employee's ability to deliver success, but also causes the boss to stretch themselves too thin and not lead the company well. Micromanagement leads to distrust and only serves to slow a business down long term, so it may be best to avoid it.
A One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Management
There is no objectively bad style of managing. The job of a manager is to make sure that a team is aligned on its mission and has the support and resources it needs to achieve that mission. But every employee is different, so the only way to accomplish that is to tailor your managing, and communication to best fit that individual. Bad bosses don't show an appetite to learn, and instead offer a one-size-fits-all approach ("this is my style of being a boss"). They are impatient when an employee doesn't "get it" and hardly invest the time in learning the right way to manage each individual.
Doesn't Lead By Example
In my experience, the best leaders are those who are in the trenches and execute. The worst have always been those who think they are superior to getting their hands dirty or hardly comprehend the vision of the business. True leaders lead by example, which includes rolling up your sleeves, and assisting to if need be. It's a great way to identify needs, inefficiencies and strengths.
Lack of Empathy
What inspires a team of employees is working for a leader they feel understands them. There will always be challenges in a workplace, and one of the most important things a leader can do is empathize with their employees. If an employee makes a mistake, take the time to understand what went wrong before passing judgment. Having empathy ensures low employee turnover and high productivity.
Focused On Blame, Rather Than Solutions And Support
My own pet peeves about bad bosses are duplicity, being weak and lack of consistency. By and large good leaders minimize damages by exploring solutions such as training, developing strategies, never using another’s mistakes as a way to prop up their position, or casting blame so as to deflect from any blame that is their responsibility. This is a bad boss. For example: a worker blames the machinery, the supervisor blames the worker, the manager blames the supervisor, and the head of the company blames the manager. Altogether, somewhere along this chain of denial, what's wrong with saying, "Let us all focus on “solutions” to ensure that this doesn't happen again"?
Uses Their Team As Pawns For Their Own Success
The trait common to all the bad bosses I have observed is the belief that their team exists only to facilitate their own advancement. Mistakes are only mistakes if they make the boss look bad. Actions are only praised if they make the boss look good. The quality of the work and the morale of the team are largely irrelevant. Good managers are the opposite as their goal is to always make their team look good. This type of management yields the best outcomes over the long term. If bad bosses can make their way up the hierarchy, you might want to consider employment elsewhere.
Lack of Focus
I've worked on jobs where bosses who were both good and bad and what I have observed is that good bosses always had a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish and planned each day to arrive closer to that goal, whether, improving customer satisfaction or designing new products; overall the common thread was focus. On the other hand, bad bosses tended to be inconsistent with their goals, clueless but always seemed nice, intelligent, but lacked focus.
Takes Credit for Others' Work
Taking credit for employee’s success is never a good idea and it’s even worse when a boss is the perpetrator. Taking credit for the work of subordinates makes for ineffective leaders as it dampens employee’s motivation. A limelight seeking boss is not just unfair to employees, but also detrimental to the employee’s career.
Disrespectful to employees
Bosses who are ineffective typically don't have mutual respect with their employees however never feel it’s necessary to listen nor respect their opinions, thus employees will have a difficult time respecting or having a great relationship with their managers. Employee’s desire is to feel that their opinions matter and that their leaders value their input.
A Sense Of Entitlement Rather Than A Sense Of Duty
An organization works better when its members work together. An unethical boss expects to be served, and the vision they share with their staff is their own rather than the company’s. That kind of leadership often results in a toxic work environment, which typically stifles a business’s growth. People naturally imitate the ones they look up to nonetheless; great leaders inspire their colleagues to become better employees.
Expects All Employees to Be akin to them
The bad boss measures employees by the same criteria that made them successful, which is insanely ineffective. Meanwhile, good bosses identify employee’s strengths and place them in a position where it can be utilized. To this end, great bosses aim should always be to elevate their employees to achieve maximum potential. If a boss plays an armchair role of dictating and criticizing work that they have not attempted themselves, the effects are corrosive not only to the employee but also to the core values of the company or service. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.
NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT COLUMNIST: Deidre M Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer/brand marketing analyst, author and certified life coach with qualifications of A.Sc. B.Sc. M.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of The Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.