3 Characteristics of a Bad Boss

Bad bosses can make your work life pretty miserable, making you hate a job you once loved and taking away your motivation to do a good work. But what makes these bad bosses so bad? The Harvard Business Review did 360 qualitative interviews to find out which characteristics of bosses people find most unpleasant.
  1. Body language and tone: Even when some bosses try to hide it, their distaste still manages to come across in their body language and tone of voice. Without even meaning to, they can come off rude and condescending with simple facial expressions like furrowed brows and scowls.
  2. Interrupting the creative process: A good boss allows people to feel secure about their jobs and shows them encouragement while they are in the midst of their own creative process. On the other hand, a bad boss interrupts the process by making employees feel nervous by not listening to ideas, interrogating and having unfair expectations.
  3. Inconsistency: An inconsistent boss makes everyone nervous. A bad boss treats the management team differently than other employees and often has outrageous reactions to situations that don't warrant it. This forces employees to walk on eggshells and creates an environment of nervousness and tension. A good boss is one who treats everyone with the same respect and manages to stay cool, calm and collected.

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear from you! What other characteristics make a boss bad? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments!

More from PayScale

3 Ways to Deal With a Bad Boss

How to Deal With Bad Bosses

Good Bosses vs. Bad Bosses

bad boss

(Photo credit: © berc - Fotolia.com)

2 Comments

  1. 2 JEFFREY LANDIS 05 Sep
    "HANDS-ON" v. "HANDS-OFF" Most business owners/managers would probably think of their "style" as one of these two phrases often followed by an explanation and also using other qualities. These other things may or may not be related, but I believe they should be put in the mix. MANAGERIAL BALANCE: So in conclusion, I feel rather than listing characteristics of a bad boss, it's better to exemplify THE GOOD BOSS. Afterall, bank tellers are trained to identify legitimate currency from counterfeit by having them handle only THE REAL THING. This way, when they are handed a counterfeit bill, it will strike them as something odd. The fact of the matter, a GOOD BOSS is neither of these two extremes, but somewhere in the middle. Because business requires intuition, there cannot be hard & fast rules. A good boss or manager must cast clear vision, provide employees written job descriptions as well as perform objective quarterly & annual reviews which measure your contributions against the things expected of you both in writing and from a company mission standpoint. These reviews should also allow opportunity for the employee to ask appropriate questions and the manager should answer them directly, honestly and not communicate "that's none of your business". Should the employee be admonished for something, it should be clearly presented with documentation and the employee given a defined period of time to correct the fault or oversight. This information should not be presented in a threatening manner with ambiguous goals/actions for the employee to address. These things need to be included in the manager's notes in your personnel file and you should be given a hard copy of it signed by you both and promptly followed up as soon as the probationary period is up. If you are considering a new job with an employer who doesn't have a clear, written, formal review policy, it should be a HUGE RED FLAG as it will probably end—as IT people like to say—with an "other than desired outcome". HANDS-ON: I think this phrase warrants a definition, so I'll offer this one. A PERSON WHO HOLDS A POSITION OF AUTHORITY OVER REGULAR EMPLOYEES WITH HUMILITY AND HAS ACTUALLY PERFORMED THE PROCESSES & TASKS OF THOSE HE OVERSEES PREVIOUSLY IN HIS/HER VOCATION BUT WHO HAS CLEAR BOUNDARIES, RECOGNIZES SKILLS, RESPECTS INDIVIDUALITY AND WELCOMES CREATIVITY IN PROBLEM SOLVING. HE/SHE SHOULD AVOID MICRO-MANAGEMENT, AT ALL COST YET ABLE TO WORK ALONGSIDE YOU SHOULD IT BE NECESSARY. HANDS-OFF THE "HANDS-OFF" BOSS, MAY SEEM LIKE A DREAM LEADING YOU TO BELIEVE THEY VALUE YOUR PROWESS AND TRUST YOU TO DO WHAT'S BEST FOR THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF THE BUSINESS. BUT IN REALITY THEY ARE OFTEN COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT, OR WORSE; INDIFFERENT. I CALL THIS "THE OWNER'S ONLY SON SYNDROME". THIS INDIVIDUAL BELIEVES HE/SHE CAN RUN THE COMPANY BLINDFOLDED CLAIMING SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS OBTAINED VIA OSMOSIS. HOWEVER, THE SAME TRAITS ARE OFTEN SEEN IN ANY COME-ALONG MANAGER WHO SIMPLY AMASSED SO MANY YEARS WITH AN ORGANIZATION THAT THEY ASSUME A HIGH RANK THROUGH ATTRITION. THESE FOLKS "HAVE ARRIVED" AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO ENSURE THEY ARE NOT BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY A RANK & FILE EMPLOYEE—EVEN ANOTHER MANAGER. THEY SUFFER THE ILLUSION THAT THEY ARE OMNISCIENT AND WILL NEVER ADMIT OTHERWISE. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY OF THESE CHARACTERS I'VE WITNESSED IN ACTION. THEIR LACK OF AWARENESS AND KNOWLEDGE LEADS TO DECISION-CONSTIPATION WHILE THEIR ARROGANCE DRIVES AWAY THE BEST AND MOST TALENTED EMPLOYEES WHO BECOME NERVOUS, UNABLE TO BARE WATCHING THE ORGANIZATION HEAD TOWARD AN UNNECESSARY PREMATURE DEATH. IF THEIR LIMITATIONS AND UNWILLINGNESS TO ASK NON-RHETORICAL QUESTIONS DOESN'T KILL THE COMPANY, THE LOSS OF IT'S MOST VALUABLE HUMAN CAPITAL WILL. BECAUSE IT MAY TAKE SOME TIME, THE AFFECT THOSE GAPS WILL TAKE THEIR TOLL ON OUTPUT OR BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS, OR BOTH. DISCLAIMER: ABOUT ME SHOULD YOU CARE My personal observations, ARE PRIMARILY experiential having worked for a couple of very good bosses and instructors/teachers PLUS a bunch of others that could be the Poster-Child for bad bosses. But since the waiting list for that is extremely long My opinion is not scientific, but rational (void of as much emotion as possible). I've held about two dozen jobs since I was old enough to be formally employed about 35+ years ago. In addition, I'm fortunate to have had a very small number of role models who were natural teachers of their chosen vocation and demonstrate that skills are paramount, but not the sole quality of a good boss or good employee. I doubt most of them even knew their impact. I wish I could go back and let them know because i believe they are an endangered species. They modeled that excellence of one's knowledge and competence, hard work and dedication are important and something to be honed by experience and to be proud of. I've also formal education in communications and lay training in working with others and how to resolve conflict with intensive one on one and group volunteer management level positions. Lastly, I was born with an innate ability to estimate a person's integrity, intelligence level and motives. (collectively; Character). If you've held more than one job,you've likely found yourself comparing you bosses against others. jl
  2. 1 MB 25 May

    When others who have the same job as yourself, for example, custodian staff and she wants everyone to toss the trash except in your area.  Your area is the area that makes a true impression on people walking into the company for the first time and they see that the janitor has not picked up the trash because the supervisor says to custodian do not toss trash.  She is inconsistent with the custodial staff.  She needs to keep everyone the same.  Her reasoning is illogical by not tossing the trash.  Her expectations were lower.  Signs of bad boss, inconsistency, takes away duties, and expectations ridiculous. How can you follow her line of reasoning?

     

Comment




  1. Please prove to us that you're not a robot: