Work Relationships

6 common traits of horrible bosses

Written by Peter Jones

While in a perfect world your boss would be a magical combination of friend and mentor, you’re very lucky if you land a gig where that’s the case. For the most part, bosses are just fine. Some are just mediocre and more or less tolerable. Some are good and make work a nice place to be every day.

But then, in rare instances, you come across a boss who’s truly awful. A terrible boss can ruin your life and derail your career. Do you despise your relationship with your boss and wonder if maybe you’re overreacting? Read on for 6 of the most common awful boss behaviors. If you recognize more than 2 of these, it might be time to look elsewhere for work to save your sanity.

1. They micromanage every little task.

Bosses are supposed to hire people they trust enough—based on their skills and experience—to do the job they’re hired to do. Then, they’re supposed to leave you a bit of room to actually do your job, rather than breathing over your shoulder and confusing things—or just stressing you out. A good boss eases up and lets you fly. A bad boss attaches himself to your every move, all the time.

2. They always take credit for others’ successes.

Taking credit for the ideas of others is never a good habit. It’s especially vile in a boss, who is supposed to nurture their employees and help them achieve. If your boss likes to claim the credit for something you had a heavy hand in and bask in the glow of accolades after a success, that means she’s getting in the way of your limelight. It’s not just unfair, it’s detrimental to your career.

3. They’re never satisfied with anything.

No matter how many expectations you meet or succeed, it’s never enough for your boss. She finds a way to demean your efforts or to belittle them. She’s always wanting more. There never seems to be any room for positive feedback or recognition because the goalposts are always moving. If you stick around too long, your self esteem is going to drop dangerously low.

4. They constantly manipulate you, but never enough to cross a line.

Often, a terrible boss comes to understand just how much criticism you can handle without snapping, breaking, or quitting. and sticks to that limit—again and again. He knows if she takes too much from you too fast, you’ll simply quit. But if he beats down your self worth and builds you back up, again and again, you might stay. Don’t.

5. They hoard the knowledge and the power.

Everything flows through your boss. All things are CC-ed. He has his hand in every project. And, most importantly, he is the only one with enough knowledge to see the big picture, or the whole scope of a project. If you and your team members are laboring in the dark, chances are your boss is keeping you there.

6. They’re easily threatened.

Anytime your boss’s authority is tested, she flips out. This is not normal behavior for a boss, particularly if that “threat” is just someone having an idea, or a conversation that doesn’t include her. Horrible bosses see other people’s successes as their losses. If your boss flies off the handle whenever she’s not #1, you’ll find yourself trying to hide your accomplishments, which is not a way to build a career. Consider talking to human resources, requesting a transfer, or looking for a new gig if possible.

About the author

Peter Jones