Four important signs that you're working for a bad boss

Richard Tubb

We’ve all known – or in many cases worked for – bad bosses. Those people who rub us up the wrong way. Who behave inappropriately. Then there are bosses who are bullies. Bosses who think that flaunting their power or throwing their weight around impresses others. That belittling or shouting at others gets results.

The reality is that many members of staff will put up with their boss's crap for the sake of a paycheck. Will they respect that person? Almost certainly not.

That boss may not care whether his or her staff respect them, but what they should care about is realizing that unless they manage their staff correctly, those employees won’t produce their best work. If employees don’t produce their best work, then that’s no good for the boss or their business.

Author and expert in personal development Dondi Scumaci put it best when she said: “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”

With that in mind, here are 4 signs of a terrible leader – see how many you can spot in bosses from your past.

They discipline employees publicly

Some bosses are always on the prowl looking to “catch out” employees when they do something wrong. When they do, they criticize that employee in front of other members of staff, or worse still they call a meeting so they can criticize that employee in front of others.

All this is doing is feeding the boss's ego and giving them a sense of self importance. Does it motivate the member of staff to do better next time? Absolutely not. At best the member of staff will “work to rule”, doing the bare minimum to achieve standards. At worst, that member of staff will realize their work isn’t appreciated and look to move to pastures new.

Instead of publicly discipling staff, such conversations should be held in private. As a boss, why not look for opportunities to “catch out” your staff doing great work? Publicly acknowledge how they handled that customer issue, or went above and beyond with that project. This recognition will breed a culture of commitment in your staff.

They are impossible to please

You know the type of boss who tells you to get on with a job, waves you away when you ask for clarification, but then tells you your work is not up to standard when you present it to them.

Bosses who are hypercritical and impossible to please are a nightmare. They believe that nobody can do a job as well as them and enjoy imposing their authority by belittling others' work. Don’t be that boss.

When you delegate work to your staff, give them a clear outline of the results you expect, some ideas on how they might achieve that result, but then empower that person to do the job to the best of their ability and with your support and backup.

They bully others into working long hours

The boss who doesn’t have a life outside work and who works long hours and then dismissively sneers at others who don’t work as hard as they do.

Worse still is the boss who bullies others into working those same long hours. I had one boss once tell me “If you work for this company, you work weekends”. Suffice to say, I chose not to work for that company much longer.

While you would hope employees share the same passion and commitment to your business as you, remember that they have their own lives and other priorities outside of work. You can ask your members of staff to support you outside of normal business hours – but bullying them into this only causes resentment.

They criticize individuals

The boss who criticizes individual employees on a personal level rather than for their behavior.

For example, I saw a boss once, an insecure man who needed constant reassurance – the type who typically tear down others to make themselves feel better – who told a member of staff that a decision they’d made at work made them look an “amateur” and “stupid”.

If you need to speak with a member of staff about their work, make sure to address the results of their work and not turn the situation into a personality assassination.

Conclusion

Those bosses who discipline employees publicly rather than privately. Bosses who bully their staff into working long hours rather than respecting the contribution those staff already make. Those bosses who are impossible to please, who look to “catch out” staff members making mistakes rather than recognize their achievements. Those bosses who criticize individuals rather than their work.

These are the bosses we don’t like. These are the bosses who believe that compliance by fear and bullying will bring success for them. It won’t. Only a culture of commitment from your staff will help you achieve long-term, sustainable success.