In last week’s post we continued our discussion on bad bosses by listing 10 qualities effective leaders, managers and supervisors of people try to avoid, and suggestions on what you can do if you discover this is one of your tendencies. In this article we look at the remaining 10.
10 More Attributes Good Bosses Strive to Avoid
Though not exhaustive, these remaining 10 attributes along with the previous 10 include the most common and most negatively impacting of bad boss attributes.
- Playing favorites
- Good bosses treat all employees equally and fairly. Bad bosses play favorites. These leaders may have personal friendships with direct reports, be related, or may just like some employees more than the others. They give out opportunities, privileges and special treatment not based on merit or skill, but rather on personal preferences. Preferential treatment of the boss’s pet discourages, demoralizes and disincentives non-favored employees.
- How to avoid it: Be mindful of your staff relationships and how they are perceived. Strive to be impartial, especially when those you are in close relationship with are involved and let them know of your intentions.
- Credit-stealing is a typical warning sign of a bad boss. These bad bosses claim employees’ ideas, efforts and results as their own, or may simply fail to acknowledge employees’ contributions.
- How to avoid it: Regularly set aside time to evaluate the contributions of each employee and who influenced the end result of a completed initiative. Make it a practice to pass along the praise privately and publicly.
- Insulting and belittling
- Obviously, outright insults, belittling and name calling are signs of a bad boss. But more frequently it is the backhanded, sneaky, snarky, sarcastic, teasing and passive aggressive comments that do the most long-term damage. Regardless of method or intent, the hurt and humiliation are the same.
- How to avoid it: Again, try to determine the root cause of your behavior. Is it the need to hurt, control or look superior? Before speaking, ask yourself if you would make the same comment to your own boss.
- Bad bosses hurl accusations, shame, point fingers and find fault with others when things go south. They harp on mistakes and sink employee morale. Good bosses don’t hesitate to point out when staff fail to meet expectations, but they do so without insulting the judgement and character of the employee and always with the end goal of avoiding the error in the future.
- How to avoid it: Analyze all of the contributing factors before addressing the issue. Focus more on how to avoid the problem in the future than who caused it.
- Prone to anger
- Bad bosses are prone to angry outbursts, usually for an issue that is not the employee’s fault. Temper tantrums set a poor example for the team, increase the levels of stress and fear for employees and overshadow the message.
- How to avoid it: Reflect on whether the pressure you are feeling from your own boss is behind your outbursts. When angry, commit to pause or leave the room to cool down before reacting. Consider seeking professional anger management help.
- Poor listener
- Bad bosses are often poor listeners. Chronic poor listening habits frustrate employees, cause them to feel unheard and underappreciated, and lead to mistakes and misunderstandings.
- How to avoid it: Practice active listening techniques, such as repeating responses back to the employee or taking notes. If you are distracted, then reschedule the conversation for a better time. Seek first to understand rather than to be understood.
- Authoritarian leadership
- Authoritarianism is a prevalent leadership style of bad bosses, who are often narcissistic. These bosses operate like dictators, not allowing disagreement, demanding obedience and seeking retribution when anyone challenges their authority. They love to stir up conflict and create competition. This type of leadership culture evokes fear and stifles feedback, innovation and creativity.
- How to avoid it: Acknowledge that you are not infallible and that on occasion you can be wrong. Encourage and create venues for open debate and honest feedback. Accept others’ advice. Admit when you are wrong. When making an autocratic decision, explain your reasoning so that employees understand the logic behind decision.
- Unprofessional behavior
- Unprofessional behavior includes a wide-ranging set of improper actions of bad bosses. Extreme examples are sexism and racism. More common examples include inappropriate conversations, disregarding policies and procedures, disrespecting colleagues, and excessively tending to personal matters while on the clock. Such behaviors can cause unnecessary conflict, confusion and stress and embolden others to do the same.
- How to avoid it: Know and adhere to organizational values, policies and procedures. Establish an accountability partner or group on staff who will let you know when you have crossed a line.
- Neglecting culture and team building
- Typically, bad bosses make little or no effort to team build, establish workplace values or create a positive workplace culture. Inevitably, this leads to a collection of solo performers and little collaboration or camaraderie.
- How to avoid it: Plan and participate in team building games and activities. Create initiatives that require collaboration. Jointly identify the workplace culture you wish to have and create mutually agreed upon workplace values.
- Numbers obsession
- Bad bosses push their team to hit numbers and quotas just to look better, with no regard to employees’ wellbeing. These bosses care more about their reputation and image than their team. In this type of culture numbers get fudged, trust evaporates, and actual results are minimal.
- How to avoid it: Choose meaningful, realistic and mutually agreed upon standards of Also, work with staff to agree upon and establish metric collecting and reporting systems that have built-in third-party review and accountability. Find joy in the process, not just in the outcomes.
Posted on November 15, 2022