50 Signs Of A Bad Boss: Red Flags To Watch Out For In The Workplace

 A bad boss or manager can not just be counterproductive to your workplace but also detrimental to your career as well. 

What happens when you don’t get along with your manager, superior, or your boss? Are you afraid of being fired or does he/she really treat you badly?

A workplace is often a place where employees can experience stress, anxiety, and even depression.

This is because they spend long hours at their job, and sometimes they don’t receive proper feedback from their superiors.

When you’re working under a bad boss, you may feel frustrated and demotivated. If you want to improve your relationship with your supervisor.

But for that, you need to be aware enough to notice the signs of a bad boss. Here are 50 signs that are telltale of having a bad boss. 

50 signs of bad boss or manager in your workplace transfer

Table of Contents

Top Signs That You’re a Bad Boss

Bad Bosses Will Show A Lack Of Clarity

The lack of clarity is an alarming sign of a bad manager, boss, or supervisor. Clarity of purpose is critical for success.  

They also need to have a mission that drives them. It is something you can always find in a good boss. 

If a boss who doesn’t have clarity in their approach and is confused is bound to destroy the company.  That’s a sign you need to look out for in your boss, manager, or leader. 

A good boss always has a clarity of purpose and the strength to stick with it. That’s what helps them to sustain their success.  

Clarity of purpose and the strength to stick with it are indicators of sustained success.

They Have Inability To Inspire People

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Either of them is not helpful for the employees.

When fear is dominated in a work culture or a workspace, it stifles the creativity and risk-taking behavior of employees. Both are required to innovate and come up with fresh ideas. 

An autocratic management style will have a similar effect on that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspires their teams to want to be a part of it.

Bad Bosses Reflect Passive-aggressive Behavior

It is not a good sign when you see someone handling conflict through passive-aggressive tendencies.

It can be avoiding conflict or some sort of struggle in disagreement or just simply sweeping problems under the rug.

They may think that they are fine but apparently, it makes them upset later this passive-aggressive behavior is bound to create serious trouble disturbing the workplace.

According to Dr. Mike Golpa, a passive-aggressive boss is very difficult to work with and in certain situations, there is too much tension coming from misunderstanding and lack of trust. It is simply because, with passive aggression, you won’t be able to trust anything they say or think.

He also talks about how healthy and mindful workplaces are the kind of space where you can easily reach out to your boss with your concerns without any disposition in the first place.

They Will Show An Absence Of Empathy

A lack of empathy is one of the worst toxic manager traits primarily because this quality lays the foundation for other bad behaviors. 

A manager who fails to recognize the feelings of employees may not think twice about gossiping, screaming, or overworking staff.

 This is something that appears to be abused in a workplace, going to its extreme form.

However, there are still quite a subtle essence or nuances of this trait that you can notice in your boss such as your boss guilting you for taking the sick leave.

These kinds of bosses do not care about their employees outside the office premise.

While professionalism dictates that workers should not let personal problems interfere with work, we are all prone to the occasional bad day. 

On other hand, professionalism tells you that personal problems shouldn’t be entangled with your work, there are still some bad days.

Also, there are some events like illness, births, significant life change, marriage, or death that does impact an employee.

You have to save yourself from these bosses who only see employees as a robot and have no empathy.

Your Boss Is Indecisive

Is an indecisive manager better than an authoritarian boss? Well, Both are significant factors in making your workplace bad and negative.  

That being said, a boss or manager who is unable to make a clear choice or decision is someone who is not going to get things done.

Ultimately, you can imagine a frantic manager scratching their head, unable to offer insight or guidance when asked important questions and advice by their team.

Bad bosses overwork their best employees

Only the bad bosses or managers overwork their best employees. They do the classic mistake of putting more and more work on their best people because they are good at it and keep doing it.

But this certainly makes them feel that they are being punished for being good at their job.

In fact, this makes people do an average job because then, they have to do it more and more without any rewards and appreciation.

Employees cannot just keep pushing and pushing, putting hours and hours into the work beyond their capability and efficiency.

If you have a bad boss, this is most likely for you to be an employee being pushed to work and punished for being good.

Your Boss Cannot Delegate

Every team needs direction and guidance.

So it should be a concerning factor for you when your bosses or managers are expecting you to merely just finish assignments without any delegation or help from their side.

You have to see whether your boss is taking participation in the delegation of the task or not. Even if you are good at management and delegation, managers and bosses still have a key role to play.

Bad Bosses Don’t Care If You Are Overworked

If your boss or manager wants you to work long hours on the regular basis, that’s right there is a red flag.

It simply tells you that your boss doesn’t care about whether you are overworked or not.

Bad bosses lie

A boss who lies to you is untrustworthy — not a good foundation for an effective working relationship. “Some can get so immune to their own lies that they can convince themselves they’re telling the truth,” says Taylor. “Others may rationalize that others lie, deflect blame onto others, or use falsehoods to cover up mistakes.”

Other bad bosses just don’t want to deal with the consequences of telling the truth.

“Look at what motivates your boss,” she says. “Make sure you know all the facts before you start any questions.” “And remember that it’s best not to go on the offensive or use sarcasm when encouraging honesty.”

They Focus Too Much On The Negative

If you’re focusing too much on the negatives, you’re probably not managing well enough. These types of managers tend to focus on what isn’t working instead of what is working. 

Managers who consistently focus on the negative tend to affect their employees’ morale and tend to dismiss any new ideas, thus stifling growth.

They’re usually dismissive of their staff and rarely offer kind or encouraging words of praise. 

As negativity is their predominant attitude, they might also end up being sarcastic (which is not conducive to productive meetings) and might even engage in rude and insulting behavior.

Bad Bosses Give No Recognition or Praise

For many employees, praising and recognizing them for their achievements is even more important than their salary. 

Around 30% of employees quit if they don’t get the appreciation they deserve or expected.

And even worse still if a boss takes the credit for something you did. The aforementioned American study also found that 57 percent of respondents deemed this unacceptable behavior.

Bad managers will never praise you. They’ll assume that everything is fine and that you don’t need any feedback unless it‘s negative. 

They’re wrong because all employees need to feel appreciated and valued.

If you’d like to know if you’re performing well, talk to your manager; this will encourage them to give you some well-deserved recognition.

Your Boss Is Excluding Team Members From Meetings

A critical sign of an incompetent boss is that he excludes certain members of his team from meetings that are essential for them to perform their jobs well. 

Such behavior stems from insecurity. They exclude the person because they want to keep their job and don’t want to lose it. 

So they will make sure that the excluded person fails. They will also limit employees’ access to tools, information, and even people in an effort to sabotage them.

Bad Boss Do A Lot Of Gossip

Leaders should actively discourage rumors to promote a healthy team environment. Rumors and hearsay don’t set a good example for employees.

Besides, it’s not just about trust; it’s about trustworthiness. 

Employees who overhear their managers discussing a colleague may worry about being the subject of such gossip themselves. 

As a result, team members won’t trust the manager, which could cause a rift in the relationship between them. 

Managers cannot lend their support when they are unaware that team members are struggling, and team members will never admit their struggles when they suspect managers will not keep secrets.

Gossip has no business in an inclusive workspace, and managers should strive to make their workplaces welcoming and safe for all employees.

Bad Bosses Don’t Set Clear Expectations

When a manager doesn’t set clear expectations, they set employees up to fail. And that failure leads people to leave their jobs and become unhappy. 

Gallup studied over 7 thousand adults and found that one-half had quit a job because they had a bad boss. They also found that clarity of expectations is important for employee performance.

They’re quick to point out your mistakes, but rarely express their thanks when you succeed.

Do you feel like your boss puts you down in front of other people? If you allow it to happen once, it’ll keep happening. Good bosses know they need to have this conversation with their staff privately.

Oliver suggests apologizing to his boss privately.

While it may seem counterintuitive to apologize to people for something that was clearly not your fault, amazing things can happen when you can bring yourself to do so. 

An intimate bond is formed. All you have to do is say something like, “I blame myself for your outbursts earlier today.” 

Clearly, I’ve relied on you too much. “If you have any issues with my writing, please feel free to tell me about them in private.”

Your Boss Has Inability To Motivate The Team

A common sign of bad management is when your boss or managers are unable to motivate you and the team.

You can detect that for them it’s like not knowing where they are, where they want to go, and what needs to happen to get there.

If you can see that the team is not excited about the product or service they create or the process itself, it is simply evident how they are able to motivate buyers.

The high-performance team is fired up. Not knowing how to fire up your team is a sign of a lack of management skills.

Your Boss Has Unhappy Employees

The first sign of bad management can be seen through the reactions of the employees. 

When you can see the employees including you are not happy in the workplace, there is clearly something wrong with the management.

Also, when you see people leaving more frequently or there is tension in the workplace, you need to question the credibility of your bosses.

No one wants to be part of a company that treats them or the employees badly. Also, when it is clear that they are always in trouble, that means, there is an issue of competence and leadership there.  

This affects the employees as well since bad decisions can lead to a company closing in a blink of an eye.

Bad Boss Badmouths His or Her Team

He or she tells you in the interview how lousy his or her team is and that she is planning to fire them as soon as you agree to come on board.

Beware getting seduced by the flattery and compensation of a workplace, especially when they lack competence and conviction in their leadership and management.

It is very easy to think that you are special and something that happens to other employees won’t happen to you.

But the simple truth is if the company or bosses do not treat other employees well in the office, they won’t treat you well as well, if not now, then maybe later but it will happen.

Any boss who is willing to throw her employees under the bus will do that to every employee including you.

Your Boss Will Low Emotional Intelligence

When your leader or boss is low on emotional intelligence, it means that they are not in the touch with the world and themselves.

It makes them ineffective leaders and bad bosses.

This lack of self and social awareness, curiosity, and self-confidence can be seen in their inability to listen, control their emotions, embrace humility over authority, and guide and empower their team and people through asking insightful (non-leading) questions.

Bad Bosses Lacks Transparency

Bosses are often privy to confidential information, and a good boss will aim to keep everyone on the team informed as much as possible without breaching the trust of others. 

Transparency is essential when it comes to gaining trust and respect from employees. When people know everything that is going on in the company they respect and value everything.

Whereas if you have a bad boss, they are more likely to be secretive and always try to hide things. It creates a divide and mistrust between the management and employee.

If you are feeling alienated in your office, feeling like you are not able to trust your seniors, this comes from the fact that you have no idea what’s going on in the workplace where you feel to be part.

Bad Boss Will Not Respond Directly To A Question But Circle Around It

If you have done your homework and know of issues and challenges facing the department or company, then you have reason to believe that your future boss is either hiding them or unaware that they are indeed a problem. 

Sneaky or dumb are both undesirable character flaws in a boss.

Your Boss Will Screams, shout, And Bullies

There are really only 2 situations when a boss or manager should yell – if it’s really loud and staff wouldn’t understand them any other way or if a life-threatening situation were about to occur. Otherwise, there really is no excuse for shouting or screaming.

Even worse than the situation in which screaming turns to bullying is the one in which shouting turns to bullying. 

An example of prime example is publicly snapping a person’s head off during a meeting. This kind of behavior has never been motivating or team-building.

Bad Bosses Verbally Abuse

It’s never okay to yell at employees in front of other workers, even if they deserve it. If you find that you’re being shouted at by your boss, know that you don’t have to sit there and accept it. Rise above this bad behavior.

If you want to talk to your manager about it, you can tell him/her that you didn’t appreciate his/her reaction. 

Sometimes managers are so busy that they don’t realize how they are acting.

If they ignore you and continue to act this way, you may want to consider changing jobs.

They Are Rejecting All Ideas

You can tell you’re working for a terrible boss when he rejects almost all of your ideas. 

Dedicated team collaboration is key to building something that lasts, which is founded on great communication and mutual trust, and respect. 

If a boss refuses even to consider an employee’s idea, it shows that he lacks the respect and trust necessary for building a strong team.

Your Boss Is Bad In Communicating

Good managers stay in touch with their employees. Poor managers go radio silent. 

This issue is particularly problematic for managers who are based in different locations, travel frequently, and/or whose teams are fully remote.

These managers rarely communicate for days, weeks, or months at a time before dropping in with an occasional check-in, update, or new assignment. Perhaps the boss waits till the last minute to pass on information.

If the leader communicates, the conversation is one way. When the boss sends an email or IM, he doesn’t respond to follow-up questions either. 

This manager promised to call back later but forgot to pick up the phone when he was supposed to.

The occasional delay in responding is understandable, but this leader makes a habit of ghost­ing the team.

Bad Bosses Creates A Toxic Company Culture

If your team just doesn’t seem interested in their work, that may be due to the fact that they’re working under a bad manager who creates a toxic company culture.

 Many businesses think of toxic cultures as being all about high staff turnover or high conflict. 

Many toxic cultures are actually flat, and they don’t really care about their teams. They just coast in their roles without taking any real action.

The low-energy, toxic company culture can see team members who don’t care about your product or service, let alone your customers

Bad Bosses Are Narcissistic 

It’s difficult to lead a team when only you care about yourself. Jesse Harrison, CEO of HopeTree Legal Funding, recalls a former boss who exhibited unhealthily narcissistic behaviors. 

“She had no interest in her employees as people.” “He never praised anyone, even when they did something extra for his company.’

Eventually, this negative trait led to workplace disruptions. “I believe that if you want to work with someone, then you must respect them.” 

Unfortunately, this boss has made it very clear that she doesn’t respect anybody but herself. 

As a result of her narcissism, at least once a day someone was upset with her. “Employee turnover was very high, so we had to hire new employees.

They Lose Control On a Regular Basis

Screaming at work is not professional, and no one should have to put up with an out-of-control boss. 

If your manager regularly loses his temper, it may be time for you to consider another position or job. 

On the other hand, if it’s just an occasional occurrence, you might be able to address the issue with them directly.

Your Boss Is Never, Ever Wrong.

Admitting that you were wrong is one of the most important things you can do for others.

Ask Lexi Reese (the COO of Gusto) and she’ll tell you that the best thing a boss could do is communicate to their employees the type of leader they want to be and then say “But I also am a human and I’ll probably fuck it up.” 

Most importantly the boss should encourage their employees to let them know when the boss is falling short.

If your boss refuses even to consider admitting that he’s wrong, then he’s not willing to go out of his comfort zone for you.

A national independent study conducted by Lynn Taylor Consulting found that 91% of employees say that owning up to their mistakes as a manager is an important factor in employee satisfaction.

“Admitting to your mistakes sends a message to employees that it’s a secure environment to take smart risks—and without that, you’re stifling innovation.”

Your Boss Plays favorites

Workplace favoritism can lead to animosity between employees. The boss lets Jane leave early but doesn’t let anyone else do so. 

This kind of behavior may annoy some colleagues and turn the office into a battleground.

A boss who favors one employee over another is encouraging a kind of constant jockeying among his employees. 

Not only does this create an unstable emotional environment in the workplace, but it decreases the productivity and effectiveness of the office or company. 

Being aware that you need to curry favor with the bosses at all times is exhausting and demoralizing if you’re not included in their inner circle.

Bad Bosses Do Bad Task Dissemination

A bad boss is one who doesn’t know how to manage his subordinates well in terms of task dissemination. 

As a leader, it is important for you to know how to delegate tasks fairly so that all employees comply with them. 

Unfair workloads may lead to employees leaving their jobs and possibly resulting in burnout.

They Give You Zero Guidance or Constructive Feedback

Employees expect guidance from their boss when they’re trying to accomplish a common goal. However, bad managers don’t expect their staff to read each others’ minds or work things out on their own. 

They just want them to follow instructions without question. It’s highly ineffective and irritating!

New or inexperienced employees especially need extra guidance and feedback from their managers. They’re eager to learn and often seek out their boss or manager for help.

Your Boss Doesn’t Empower You

Employees who are fully empowered make good decisions and resolve issues. 

A Gallup study even showed that companies with talented individuals that can delegate have higher growth rates, higher revenue, and create more jobs. 

If your boss doesn’t trust you, it could cause you to feel anxious, frustrated, and unsure about your abilities. 

According to John Maxwell, leaders become great, not because they have power, but because they’re able to empower others.

Your Boss Has Lack Of Flexibility

On some occasions, employees may need some flexibility for things like going to a doctor s appointment, their child‘s ballet recital, fixing their broken-down car, etc. 

If you work hard but your boss doesn’t give you the freedom to take time off when you need to, then it’s probably a huge sign to look for another job.

They Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Being owned by their mistakes is like a sickness to bad bosses; they don’t want it. They don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. 

The problem is that people can only pretend their weaknesses or failures don’t exist for so long; the ones around them can see their flaws and weaknesses and bad bosses pretending they’re not there isn’t helpful. It’s infuriating.

Bad bosses are masters at assigning blame. They are unwilling or unable to accept responsibility for their mistakes. 

Bad Bosses Do Not Own Up To Their Mistakes

Even managers make mistakes. Good managers will always own up to their mistakes and apologize if they’re called out on them. 

Bad managers avoid taking responsibility for their own mistakes. They blame others instead.

Your Boss Doesn’t Advocate For You

A great boss will help you get exposure, recognition, and opportunities. If you’ve given 1000%, but your manager hasn’t advocated for you, that is a definite red flag. 

If you’re consistently being told that a raise or promotion is coming up and it doesn’t happen, it may be time to consider other options.

They Never Say Thank You

When people appreciate your efforts, whether it’s a pat on the back, a heartfelt thank you, pulling in a prestigious new customer, or finishing a project on time, everyone appreciates it. 

You’d certainly expect some gratitude or praise from your boss, wouldn’t you? Bad managers assume that they know everything and don’t need to make any effort at all.

Your Boss Overpromises

A promise from a boss is not a guarantee. “If you’re promised a promotion, increased responsibilities, or a raise, you may be disappointed when you don’t receive them,” says Taylor. 

“Sometimes, it’s best to get to the truth by emailing your boss.” 

“If the responses aren’t coming through email, or at all,” be wary.

Your Boss Has Lack of Vision

A good manager has vision and direction. They constantly think of innovative ideas that drive their team and business forward for continuous success. 

This also gives you an idea of what you should be aiming for and how you can improve within the company. 

If you find that you’re constantly stealing ideas from your colleagues, you may be dealing not with a good manager but with a lousy one.

Bad Bosses Expect People To Be Just Like Them

Most people like others whom they perceive to be similar to them.

But good bosses understand that different personality types can help them improve their teams. 

According to Goldman Sachs’ HR head Sally Boyle, one of the best things managers can do to help their staff succeed is to get to know each individual employee.

If your boss is always trying to put his/her own stamp on everything you do, follow one or two of their ideas and thank them for the others. 

Show that you’re loyal to your company, but also show that your boss’ suggestions are important to you.

Your Boss Is A  Micromanager

Your boss is so obsessed with knowing everything about your projects that he/she doesn’t know when to stop asking questions. 

Micromanagers are detrimental to both business success and employee mental health. 

According to LinkedIn, 79% of employees have been micromanaged at some point in their careers. Employees feel disengaged and demoralized.

Are you so pushy and overbearing bossy that you find yourself unable to accomplish anything efficiently? It may be a perpetual problem. Get ready for it now.

If they want a complete record of every business interaction, including emails, calls, and meetings, then take detailed notes and send them to your manager. 

Your boss will think you’re doing a good job and will leave you alone, so don’t worry about it.

By over-commu­nicating with a micromanager, you’ll diffuse their need to constantly check in, which will help you build important trust at the same time.

They Are Taking Away Your Credit

According to a recent study by BambooHR, the worst boss behavior is stealing credit for employees’ work Managers often take credit for the work done by others for all kinds of reasons. None of them are acceptable. 

Your Boss Have A Habit Of Calling You On Your Day Off

You put in your time and get permission for a longer vacation, but your boss doesn’t hesitate to call you when you’re away from the office. 

To deal with this type of boss, Oliver suggests setting your boundaries early.

“If you have a power-crazed boss, then separation anxiety can kick in. 

You’re best served to instill a sense of comfort with an awful boss who’s demanding, just as you would with a terrible two toddlers — whether you plan on taking a day off, leaving early, arriving late, or taking a vacation.” 

If you’re planning to be away for any length of time, let them know ahead of time so they don’t worry about you.

They’re Insecure

The insecure boss may be feeling unstable in his or her position at work, have issues of inadequacy, or both. 

Whenever they feel vulnerable, you and your coworkers need to be extra careful around them. 

You may be spending more time trying to keep your kids happy than actually doing your job.

Your Boss Is Not Appreciative Of Employee Feedback

If you notice that your boss doesn’t seem to care about your input, then he or she may not be a good leader. 

If an organization doesn’t have a policy for employees to give anonymous suggestions or feedback to their superiors, then it is a clear indication that the management isn’t really interested in it.

When employees disregard policies enforced by the management, this implies that they disagree with the policies and don’t respect the CEO and upper management.

Frequent turnover may be an indication of a problem with the management of the company. 

If the salary is high enough and the turnover rate is still too high for the position you’re in, then you probably have a problem with the manager.

They Lack Professional Boundaries

A bad boss is someone who doesn’t respect professional boundaries. 

They’ll expect you to be available 24/7, which means they’ll demand more from you than your previous job description specified. 

She’s taking advantage by placing more and more responsibility on your shoulders and making unrealistic demands.

They Have An Inability To Say “No”

There are a surprising amount of people in management positions who are reluctant to say “no.” 

They’re uncomfortable standing up to their bosses and other departments, and sometimes even their own teams.

People-pleasing leads to problems. A manager might be afraid of disappointing his or her colleagues or supervisors, so he or she may accept unreasonable demands and assume impossible promises. 

Or, the manager might fail to veto an idea if it’s not in the best interest of the company or the team, even though it’s not in the employee’s best interest.

The manager should be reasonable and should not be afraid to provide feedback. 

A manager who is not concerned about offending others is more focused on maintaining harmony than the long-term consequences of agreeing.

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