16 Signs You May Be a Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Boss ... And How to Fix Them

Jul 19, 2018 12:00:00 AM

Most everyone has a story about a bad boss. Someone who yelled, under-communicated or micromanaged. However, have you ever considered that, somewhere in your career, the tables may have turned? What if you are the boss that your team complains about around the dinner table? Here are signs you may be the nightmare boss, and how to fix it.

 1. Employees Leave Your Team or Company.

There’s a popular saying that people leave bosses and not organizations. While we think that is a bit unfair, the research does consistently show that poor experience with a boss is a top reason for employees leaving a job. If your team has not been holding onto members, then it may be time for some honest feedback.

2. No One On The Team Is Allowed To Criticize You

Feedback is one of the most effective ways to grow in the workplace. Granted, giving good feedback is a skill and not everyone gives feedback gracefully. That being said, even defensive or rude remarks from your team could be a catalyst for growth. Practice active listening in these situations and try to get to the heart of the issue. In the very least, an aggravated team member will appreciate your gesture if they feel heard.

3. But No One Is Allowed To Question Your Criticism

Refusing criticism and ruthlessly enforcing your own? Bad combination. This is a quick way to create disconnect between you and your team. Employees who feel helpless disengage. When you give feedback, avoid personal attacks and aggressive body language. How you say something can be just as hurtful as what you say. For more tips on nonverbal cues, here is our guide to nonverbal communication in the workplace.

4. More Of The Team Is Working From Home

There are several reasons a team member may need to work from home. Maybe he/she has young kids at the house, a repairman working on the washer or even a cold to fight off. Sometimes, however, an employee working from home may be trying to avoid conflict in the office. There are some pros and cons to having a virtual team, but the reason for having a virtual team should never be to avoid conflict. In order to keep a cohesive team in and out of the office, avoid micromanaging and stay attentive to the needs of the team. Again, being receptive to feedback is a great way to mediate conflict and encourage the team to share their concerns in a healthy.

5. The Passive Aggressive Attitude

Shouting matches are not all too common at work (at least, not where I’m sitting). Snide remarks, backhanded compliments and gossip are more often the source of conflict and tension. The two mistakes a leader can make are: (a) to allow passive aggressive behavior to persist or (b) participate in passive aggressive behavior.
In any case, avoid workplace gossip, especially within your team. Exercise assertiveness in calling out passive aggressive behavior, and own your behavior as well. This is not an easy task, but making an effort in this area is a great way to win trust and respect from your team.

6. The Lack of Positive Feedback

Positive feedback is the direct opposite of criticism (aka negative feedback). Positive feedback motivates employees to perform better, while negative feedback prompts disengaged and discouraged behavior. Invest in your team members by providing affirmation and positive feedback whenever possible.

7. You Will Do Anything For A Promotion

Career is important. Don’t get me wrong. But the weird thing about getting a promotion is that you can’t think about getting a promotion to get a promotion. Selfish behavior and lack of interest in team success is a fast way to lose your team. And without a team, projects will fail, run late, over budget, etc. Point is, that doesn’t spell out promotion.
Wanting to exercise competence is a good thing, but there is a fine line between being driven and being selfish. Consider what motivates you.

8. Taking Credit For Your Team’s Ideas

The next time you present to management, stop and think about how many times you said “I” vs. “we.” When you spoke of the team’s success, who got the credit? What about when you discussed the shortfalls? Good leaders accept criticism for failure and give credit to the effort of the team. If you are a good leader, more likely than not, you will not have to say it. People will notice.

9. You’re Not A Manager. You’re A Micromanager.

According to employee engagement firm TINYpulse, employees that feel micromanaged are 28% more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Furthermore, Daniel Pink writes that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the prime motivators for employees today. Think about ways to reward and motivate your team other than salary. You may find that you use fewer resources to make your team much happier.

10. You Do Not Have Time To For Your Team

Are you the type of person that always feels the need to busy? There is no problem with being productive and driven at work, but the drive to always "do" can also get in the way of important tasks. Leaders should always have time to clarify roles, communicate tasks and pitch in where needed.

11. You Avoid Making Decisions

Maybe you’re not the Julius Caesar type. Instead of boldly crossing the Rubicon to seize the city, you are afraid to make the next step. You feel like you are constantly under the microscope because you too have a horrible, no good, very bad boss. You feel like every decision you make is going to dissected and judged.
Take a few deep breaths and realize this -- you never have to make a decision immediately. Unless something is literally on fire, you can probably take a few minutes to respond. In fact, you may even be able to ask for some other opinions in the room. This is not a sign of weakness. Just say, “This is a tough situation, and I think there are a few ways to go from here. I would love to hear your thoughts first.” Bringing a calming presence into difficult situations is the mark of an excellent leader.

12. You Make Your Employees Work Harder Than You Do

I recently saw the new Jungle Book movie, and one of the antagonists in the film was King Louie. King Louie has a horde of monkeys that bring him mounds of papayas, while he sits in the same position munching on his newfound snacks. While this is an exaggerated picture, you do not want to be a King Louie figure. Leadership is a collaborative position -- one that requires you to put in more effort than everyone else.

13. High Performers Feel Like A Threat

As a team leader, having a qualified talent should be a sign of success, not a sign that your job is in jeopardy. If you have a hot shot talent in your midst, let them do their job. And let them do it well. If they perform to their potential, be the one to recommend them for a promotion. Chances, are you will be recognized as the one who has an eye for talent and a desire to see your team members succeed.

14. You Keep Information From Your Team

As a leader, you probably have knowledge of confidential info that your team cannot know. That’s not what we are talking about here. Keeping information from your team for your own personal benefit is another matter. Keeping secrets will only earn you a reputation as a manipulative string-puller. Whatever advantage there is to hiding key info from your team also runs the risk of imploding your team’s success, and maybe your career.

15. You Play Favorites

You don’t have to like everyone equally, but you do have to treat everyone equally. You will always get along with some team members better than others. In fact, some team members will always perform better than others. However, you as the team leader have to make every member of the team feel valued. Otherwise, you will not have the full engagement of the team.

16. You Don’t Actually Know Your Employees

The best leaders make a personal connection with the team. This helps the leader understand the value of each team member and use each member of the team most effectively. If people really are your most valuable asset, you should probably get to know them. Who knows? You might even become friends.

Andy Kistler

Written by Andy Kistler