9 Characteristics Of Bad Bosses

I told you a million times...
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A bad boss is an employee's worst nightmare. The moment you realize that your boss compares unfavorably with Cruella Deville, your stomach sinks and you realize it is time to look for a new position.
If you need a checklist to decide how terrible your boss really is, consider how many of the following "bad boss" traits your manager exhibits:
1. Abrasive communication style. We're all stressed out at some point, but if your boss cannot communicate a problem or concern without berating or yelling, he or she's missing key management skills and likely won't keep highly qualified employees for long.

2. Poor planning skills. You've heard the adage, "Your poor planning does not constitute an emergency on my part." Your boss, however, makes no effort to plan ahead or to anticipate concerns down the road. The result is that your team seems to jump from emergency to emergency, and you constantly need to put your own life on hold as a result. If your boss always seems to operate one step away from disaster and can't ever seem to get a handle on what needs to be done, the team inevitably suffers.

3. Expects you to read his mind. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had ESP and could anticipate our boss' every need before he even had a chance to express it? Unfortunately, it's a pipe dream for even the best employees. If your boss consistently expects you to know what is next, but doesn't do a good job of providing the context to make sure that you can be successful, he is setting you up to fail.

4. Lack of decision-making abilities. "Wishy washy" is not an adjective that describes a great boss. The worst bosses collect all the information and still can't make choice. When a boss is not a good leader, ramifications can go beyond just whether the decisions at hand are good or bad. A lackluster leader likely doesn't have a lot of influence with higher-ups, which can negatively affect everyone on that person's team when it comes time for bonuses, raises or promotions.

5. Takes credit for the good and passes blame for the bad. This is probably one of the worst and often-reported traits of a bad boss. If your boss has the tendency to pass the buck when things get rough, but is the first to ask for a pat on the back when all is well, you know that you won't be able to trust him to support you and your career.

6. Cannot provide constructive criticism. When your boss has no problem telling you that you're doing something wrong, but cannot provide any insights regarding how to improve, it's a bad sign. Employees have a right to expect bosses will be able to offer some mentoring and direction; it's part of a manager's job description. If your boss lacks this key ability, it may be time to look for a new boss.

7. Arrogance: This characteristic is hard to take in anyone, but most especially the person who manages you. If your boss knows everything and can do no wrong, it's a good idea to seek greener pastures unless you are exceptionally tolerant.

8. Uncaring: Even an otherwise ineffective boss can get away with a lot if employees believe she or he cares about them. If your boss could care less about your family emergency or is on the phone to you in your hospital bed asking when you'll be back at work, it's pretty clear that your well being isn't high on the priority list.

9. Uses fear tactics: If your boss motivates by fear more than any other tactic, it's a sign that he or she lacks leadership skills necessary to do the job. Perhaps your boss is intimidated or unsure about how to get results without relying on threats or other fear-mongering, but no matter the reason, it's not helping the organization or the employees.

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Melanie Nichelle

1-6 + 9. My life everyday at work.

January 22 2014 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Lisa


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I have a patent pending on novelty Boss Acronyms. To see the funny Boss Acronyms prototype at www.sellidea.com/?id=5914. Cathy Randvere is the IRI Licensing Agent at 1-800-778-8814 Ext.619 or cathy.randvere@inventionresource.com. I am trying to find a United States manufacturer for the Boss Acronyms. I feel the way the world is that in many cases it is the appropriate words. Scroll down to see prototype or type www.sellidea.com/?id=5914 I want partnerships to put the Boss Acronyms on products. The Invention Resource International is suppose to sell the idea with every type of advertisement there is after a manufacturer is on board.

Thanks for your time,

Lisa Talbot

July 27 2013 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My most recent supervisor was a bit arrogant, but other than that, he was almost perfect. His boss, on the other hand, is a real piece of work. She told him to write me up one day after I walked out due to a problem with one of my clients (I was working at a group home for young mentally ill men, at the time). It was my first corrective action in nearly 5 years of employment and I wasn't even at fault. I was being attacked by the client a feared for my safety. But she had my immediate supervisor write me up for leaving work without authorization. She also forced me to take some additional trainings. A couple weeks later, when my supervisor was not available for advise on how to handle another behavioral problem (I was the only staff on duty during the day at the house), I called his boss. Instead of giving me the tools I needed to take care of the problem, she implied that she thought I was the cause of the problem (she'd only met 2X at that point). She also turned around at put a corrective action write up in my supervisor's HR file stating that he had failed to properly supervise me. He was unreachable because at the time, he was on vacation!!!

June 21 2013 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rebecca's comment

OH. I'm not working for that program any more. I've moved to another program within the same agency. I have a different supervisor. One who has known me for several years. One who thinks I will like the new job better than I liked the old position.

June 21 2013 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cool. I just quit a job where my boss had traits 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9. I did the right thing - found a new job.

June 19 2013 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the worst characteristic of a boss would be if your boss ordered you to Libya where radical islamist just dragged their Dictator into the street and executed him, and then, during the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. History, he denies your request for more security, ignores your pleas when you are under attack and people are getting killed and makes his way to a fund raiser while fight for your life against vile Islamist savages.

Yeah. That's a pretty bad boss.

June 19 2013 at 6:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Joseph Durbin

What is worse is a boss who cannot communicate well, is indecisive and arrogant! My last position, I was unfortunately stuck with a boss who I am sure was a good husband and father, but was blind to what really went on in the company, loved traveling for long periods of time, which allowed him to show up not having a clue about what we were going through. Then he would sit on projects until they were past due for him to complete and dump them off on us to complete for him. Needless to say I was given the thrill after two years of handing in my resignation as he was going to give out another review that was not only uninformed but inaccurate. I could not take it any longer. I moved to a better company and a better position, and it only took once again having to listen to his persecution to make me act. The laughable thing is I would point out hundreds of thousands of dollars of obsolete material which needed written off and be called a whistle blower. Not easy to work for bosses that do not use you to your fullest potential but can judge you. What drives me nuts..........is some idiot who has not worked for a thankless boss will reply to my email with an ignorant comment. If you plan on this do not waste your time. I was there, you were not!

June 19 2013 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

6/9 (minus 1, 7, 8)...guess I'm one of the unlucky ones, but could be worse. Thank god for unions. lol

June 19 2013 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You must have had a spy at the job I left two months ago (after 3 years!). All nine items you listed fit that workplace perfectly. You could have done all your research at that location and saved a lot of mileage. I wrote a letter to corporate after I left and it described ALL of the above traits!
unhappy in daytona

June 19 2013 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its not all men who are bad bosses.

June 18 2013 at 1:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess I was fortunate enough in my 40 years of employment never to have run across any of these types. I did however lose a job because I would not prove to my boss that I had a bra on. No, I was not going to lift my blouse and show it to him. I guess I was a bad employee but the judge didn't think so when I sued, and won, a HECK OF A LOT OF MONEY. To this day I thank that boss for having security cameras installed in all the right places.

June 17 2013 at 10:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snowbunnykat's comment

Wow, you are lucky in some respects and terribly mistreated in other respects. I got fired from my last job because I complained about the day staff coming in late after I had been up all night on the grave yard shift and had to wait until the day staff was there before I left. I was working in a group home with 10 very RUDE AND ARROGANT girls. It was stated that I was Harassing the staff by asking them to be on time, SO I WAS FIRED-THANK GOD!!!!! I THANK GOD EVERY DAY TOO!!! That job was HORRIBLE.

June 18 2013 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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