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Readers Respond: What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

Responses: 251

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Not so bad

I'm happy to report that I have had more good bosses than bad. I think employees want to be included, listened to, and feel their opinions are valued. When I started out, I wasn't a very good boss. I meant well, but I didn't communicate and I didn't trust my staff to do a good job. Over the years, I learned that a collaborative approach works best with most staff. They like to be involved in projects from planning to the final execution. By developing a more team-oriented approach, we have a great success rate. My own boss is a wonderful person--kind, highly intelligent, and always takes time to listen, give good advice, and even pray with me (yes, he is a minister). I have never been happier in a job. After 40 years of working, I've found the truth in the saying, "If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life".
—Guest guest patricia

Disorganized

I worked for a husband and wife team. The husband would dump a bunch of orders on each person, with minimal clarification, and disappear. Then his wife, who was highly unstable, would find out what he'd done and if she didn't approve she'd lay into that unfortunate employee and then harangue everyone else as if they'd just brought down the company. These bosses also hired their children, who weren't that interested in working there, but the bosses openly favored them. The worst is that they believe they could smooth over all this ill will by chatting us up (and taking the personal information they managed to glean from you to use against you later) and inviting certain people to socialize with them outside of work. God help you if you turned them down. Everyone was recruited to spy on each other, etc. It was the most tense, poisonous work environment I ever experienced.
—Guest anonamouse

My boss...

It started on the very first day at work. I was eager to start and showed up on-time exactly as appointed. No boss. I met a co-worker who said: "Who are you?" It turned out my boss arrived late, had not told anyone about me, had no plans for my office space, had not ordered me a computer, and never introduced me to anyone. Day one he gave me some papers about what he wanted me to do, but left me standing like an idiot without any information about the workplace or who to talk to. Whenever I knocked on his door for a question (what else should I do?), he acted annoyed or sighed. I felt like he regretted employing me from day one. I tried not to make a big deal out of this, and acted happy and did my best. But he seemed unhappy with everything I did. I started to work overtime to compensate, but he didn't notice and didn't appear more content. After some months of this I was totally worn out, and slowed down to normal work hours. Then he started complaining about me... It was horrible.
—Guest Mary

Where do bad bosses come from?

Well, a vast number of things come to mind, but they're not very professional! :D Actually, I think bad bosses - those who adhere to the "boot on the neck" philosophy regarding management styles - come from the same place bad parents do, since it's essentially the same behavior. Threats, intimidation, deceitfulness, power tripping, and political maneuvering (not that politics is part of parenting, but you get where I'm going with this) is based in insecurity - "How DARE you not quake and tremble in my presence!" - and insanity - since the definition of that little attribute is repeating the same behavior over and over again, and expecting a different result. Bad bosses, across the board, seem to think that saying "I don't know, what do you think?" will have the same effect on their mouths as drinking a cup of molten lava, so they puff up and bluster, surrounding themselves with various sycophants - then wonder why the company fails.
—Guest S'me

Poor Management Leads to Serious Losses

Whew! I was feeling so sad because my boss doesn't let me ask a question fully before she screams, yells and demoralizes me, but after reading the comments made here, it seems that bosses with poor management skills/styles are ruining the wonderful potential and creativity of the subordinate workforce. My heart goes out to each of you who, like me, must "grin and bear it" or those who continuously change jobs to remove themselves from grim circumstances. Bosses should mentor/coach their team members and, at least, know enough about their team members' skills to evaluate them fairly. Creativity, which is important to company growth, is lost when workers are afraid to speak/offer suggestions, lest they end up fearing the loss of their jobs. Where did all these rude, selfish, unprofessionals come from? What makes a bad boss that way?
—Guest What Makes a Bad Boss That Way?

Boss is intimidated

My boss is ridiculous - he is younger than me, and very intimidated since I have mega experience. This is evidenced by his taking almost everything I say or write out of context, and in the most negative way possible. This past week, I was voicing my reluctance to place on my "Individual Development Plan" a goal that he had established for me - when I tried to explain, in writing, that made the "individual" part of the plan void, he took "preemptive action - he talked to 'big bosses', HR, and then threatened my job, after yelling at me that I was achieving the goal anyway, so what did it matter if it wasn't mine. I explained that I just wanted to reword something, and that he had taken what I wrote entirely out of context, and he blew up. He called me "passive aggressive" & "borderline insubordinate" and I was in no way these things. When I requested to talk to the big bosses, he said "go ahead" - but then flipped out again when I did. *sigh* The irony - I DON'T WANT his job.
—Guest S'me

Most bosses suck

Being middle-aged and having had several jobs, I report that I have only had one boss that I admired. I have yet to meet a boss that encourages those under them to excell and work up the ladder. Most bosses are poor leaders and are at their positions out of default or supposed influence. I wish American workers had more of a voice at work. Most HR's bow to management and/or the money. A right to work state is just disgusting and should be eliminated. I long for my own way to be self-sufficient. The work boxes I have been in have stolen much from me. I loathe them. I go to work to pay for my own existence nothing more. Work relationships are poor at best. Boss relationships are worse. No wonder so many get sick because of their workplaces.
—Guest Cannot be human at work

Bad Attitude, Rude, Unfair.

A boss should give all of his employees the same respect. Untill the last 6 months, my boss gave me attitude every time I spoke to him. After three years, it got to a point where I would avoid him completly. I was bending over backwards to do the best I could and had to teach myself all that I knew because my boss didn't want to take the time to show me anything. I hated the fact that I was the one everyone pointed at to mix paint, when the tint machine was screwed up as well as software containing formulas. Yet it took someone other than me for him to listen and acknowledge the problem. Even then, it was put on me to find out how to fix it. Long story, short, when there was a class I wasn't worth sending. They all kept it from me and didn't even share what they had learned until I found out and confronted them. After that, I felt like my coworkers needed to stop pointing at me to do a job that they attended a class for. A person can only take so much disrespect and be pooped on for so long...
—Guest disrespect, attitude, favoritism

At a Loss for Words

I have always taken pride in people and thought that I would make a great boss until now. I have an employee from hell. I have been accused of stalking, micro managing, stealing leaves out of their yard. Regardless of my approach, it is wrong thing in their eyes. Frankly speaking, I am worn out. Not all bosses or supervisors are bad; some people are just not a good fit.
—Guest Maru

One-sided-street

A bad boss is a self centered, heartless person. In a nutshell they think employment is a one sided street and employees are expendable pieces of shit, that have no say so.
—iknowhuh

Fed Up

I remember only ONE boss in my years of working that treated employees fairly and respectfully. Boy, do I miss her! With my curent job, I work under at least 3 (yep, THREE!) bosses. One of our supervisors is utilized as a "company tattletale" and reports to boss #2, who then reports to and is afraid of HER boss. Boss #1 is a troublemaker and thrives on drama...her aim is to get you in trouble, and she will lie and twist the truth until she gets you! Staff members have caught her spying, sneaking around, and going through paperwork when others aren't around. She constantly eavesdrops on conversations and tries to butt into personal business. Beware when she compliments you, because that's a clear signal that she's getting ready to tear you apart...and her sarcasm and vitriol is endless. I come home almost every day feeling smaller than a slug because of her. She in turn has a network of brown-nosers who report their fellow employees and get rewarded for it. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE!!!!!! (Yikes! Get out of there as soon as you have a new job.)
—Guest FedUp

Worst Boss EVER!!!!!

My Bosses are horrible people. They have no heart! They micromanage, humiliate, always complain about the way we handle our work loads and never give clear instructions. When they do, and we follow through, they always find something to complain about: "Good job on this but I am writing you up for missing this." Someone is always getting "disciplined." They are absolute control freak bullies and I hate working for them. I am making a career change by Fiscal year if the world doesn't end on May 21st... I guess we will see...
—Guest Pushed to The Limit

Boss Is So Lame

My boss never sets goals and never tracks our work. We have no deadlines, no accountability and no structure. People finish their projects (insurance company policy issuance) when they feel like it. He never tracks anything. It's embarrassing. and for those of us who give a damn, there is no reward or praise.
—pjbchicago

Romantic involvement with coworkers

I like all the responses given. One specific case, which I have experienced in two of my jobs, and my daughter is currently experiencing in hers, is the boss who is having an affair with one of their subordinates. The affair is not what usually bothers other employees, but instead people are bothered that they and the employee involved with the boss are not treated equally. I think people who enter into such relationships significantly overestimate their ability to remain objective in the workplace after they become involved with one of their employees.
—Guest Nancy

Public Yelling

I had a boss who loved to yell at me in public and in front of the residences in a skilled nursing home. She talked down to people and grabbed them. She had me so scared that I would feel like I was having a panic attack. Bosses seriously need to learn manners if they supervisor people and correct them in private, not in front of a room full of people. My bad boss also socialized with some of the employees after work, but the ones she didn't party with, she abused.
—Guest Amy Sutton

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What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

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