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Readers Respond: What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

Responses: 253


Amazing How Many Bad Bosses There Are

My last boss was awful. Never gave clear direction; when she did - would deny what she told you; took credit for others' work, never supported her staff; bad mouthed other members of the team behind their back, when she didn't like you - ignored you. And the worst - set people up to fail - deliberately. Drove 2 staff members to seek therapy. Awful, awful - my fondest hope is that she experiences someone just like herself as a future boss.
—Guest sufferer106

The Worst Gossip

My boss enjoyed being indiscreet and would often talk about another team member in an inappropriate manner. He would also say things like 'as individuals, you're all quite nice, but as a group I can't stand you!' and 'I find 1:1 discussions painful.' I think he got the message when I said he'd told me this several times and now I asked him what his comment has to do with the work topic or if this is a good time to close the meeting.
—Guest Susan

Bad Manager

My boss is a nightmare; I've worked in the company for 4 years but just over a year with her. Some days she's fine other days she mumbles all day and doesn't have a clue what she's saying. She picks fault with everything. Her customer service is appalling as is the way she treats her staff. She calls everyone to each other and several staff have left because of her. They all loved the job before she came to work at our branch. She has no management skills at all and makes loads of mistakes daily. Then, she blames members of staff for her mistakes.
—Guest joxx

Familiar Territory: These Bad Bosses

Have read all of the comments and every one of them describes my boss: gutter humour; unbelievably untidy; staff favouritism; sexist; uses any excuse not to do his share; disappears frequently without saying where he's going; abysmal timekeeper; can't organise himself let alone the shop; etc., etc.
—Guest J

Just Barely Over the Line

My boss seems to think that by "teasing" employees he is being relatable, one of the gang. But frequently, this takes the form of belittling someone's dress or choice of car or any number of other details, and doing this in front of the whole staff, or sometimes in front of the person's friends, if he runs into them on a weekend. None of it would be classified as sexual harassment, per se, because anyone, male or female, might be the target of his insults. I happen to be female, so possibly a little more sensitive to the implied criticism. But three men I work with are also feeling the sting. I wish I knew a way to let him know we don't appreciate his "humor," without bringing on more of it!

Information Stealer

I experienced an awful creature in the name of boss! He can ask you questions, learning from you, then relate same thing to another person pretending he knows well. One of my colleagues remarked, after seeing my relationship with him, "A fool is always busy in searching a bigger one." He is no more involved with the job than with his sheer opportunism.
—Guest Piyush

Unfair and Selfish Bad Boss

The boss can go to her doctor's appointment; she can take her kids to appointments. She can use the phone at her job or receive phone calls and her assistant can receive her husband and her kids at front desk and laugh and make jokes. But, not her employees. They get paid like slaves and treated like slaves. I had to resign because I could not take my son to the doctor. I was not going to be absent just, was going to come in late. But I know I will find a better job.
—Guest Bee B

Unfair Bosses

I read with a lot of concern the issue about bad bosses. What is obvious is that we sometimes have bosses who care little about their collaborators. They don't report fairly on them. In some cases, we don't have the horizontal relationship which we must try to build in a workplace environment. I worked within both French and English environments but the English one is mostly convenient for personal initiatives. Maybe I am mistaken, but the French work environment is much more vertical and strongly hierarchical.
—Guest seni

Nutso Boss

After tolerating a very abusive boss for a couple of years, (he always verbally abused everyone under him, deriding each in front of the others - GE school of management grad too, hmmm. another story), I turned in a 2 week notice. He bit his lip, and oblivious to blood pouring down the side of his mouth, proceeded to claim that since I was quitting, that I also would see my marriage fall apart in the future, because I didn't stick with things! Later, sucka! And, get help, please.
—Guest donz

Boss Destruction

I work with problem teens. My boss has worked hard at destroying my self confidence, and making me feel I am not on the same page. There is very little to no trust, and she done this for years to her employees. I freeze up when I am being confronted by her. It is a horrible situation, but at the end of the day, I would rather be me than her. She has little people skills, loves to demonstrate the "got you" theory, tell you half of the situation and keep you guessing and be an ass kisser to men. I have learned a lot but have lost a lot of myself. I hope others will not be in the situation I am in and learn to not be bullied at any cost Use humor, enjoy life and remember - it is only a stupid job! Selling hot dogs at Ikea can be satisfying if you are surrounded by the right people. Louise Hay has some good Cd's on staying sane...
—Guest exhausted

Most Intriguing Bad Boss Solution

My first boss in my professional career in the lab was a real taskmaster. He always would nitpick (we had to initial everything we did and he was expert at finding the places we missed). When he nitpicked, it wasn't in an understanding way that we all must comply with rules, it was in a sort-of snide way. He rarely gave praise because, as lab professionals, we were expected to be perfect. All we got was criticism when we failed to be 100% perfect. Well, you really do want the folks giving doctors your lab results to be 100% perfect. In order to get away from this bad boss, we fell in love and I married him. I got moved to another department of the lab where the boss was slightly more nurturing. Luckily, my bad boss is a great husband (25 years and counting!) who doesn't expect perfection at home.
—Guest WB

Ass of a Boss

I worked for the most awful boss ever. We where paid such low salaries and spoken to as if we where his full time maids. I promise you if he could ask us to wipe his ass he would. I hate him so much. He killed me inside everyday by the way he addressed each and every staff . He had an affair with a co worker and broke relationships. He belongs in the sewer. If you cannot respect your staff how do you expect us to respect the organisation. He verbally abused us.I have no confidence thanks to him.I hate him! bad bad boss
—Guest Rashika

Guess I'm Not Alone? Bad Boss

I've been lamenting my "bad" boss - all of the comments below. She's been there forever, so has been inevitably advanced to the top manager. Her management style is: crisis management, with lots of nepotism, a splash of "only those that go to my church are any good and get anywhere," with lies, manipulation and the blame game in full swing. One person (who goes to her Church) does something wrong, and it's, "you're overly sensitive and a whiner, grow up" - if you don't happen to be one of the chosen ones. If it's the other way around - you get your ass chewed, skipping your yearly colonoscopy. So, what do you do given these impossible situations? Suck it up, drink avoidance, beer, with a sprinkling of tears and anger -- or just say take this job and shove it? I'm a third tier boss, trying to be a good boss, interceding for my hardworking staff, dealing with this whack job.Why are there so many bad managers out there? It really is bad for busin ess and morale.
—Guest Dying in Ohio

Equity in Procedures/Policies

My former boss (l left after 20 yrs.) had different rules for different employees, though rules are clearly spelled out in a personnell manual as we are directed in our standards to be accredited. Hiring is frozen, yet some departments can hire and the jobs are not even posted according to our EEOC plan, placing some employees' friends in the jobs. One person can do one thing and it is ok and another do the exact same thing and it is not ok. The manager never goes downstairs to speak to the staff, to learn about their family or just see how things are going in their lives. The organization serves people with disabilities with a great mission. But, if you want your people to carry out their mission, their morale needs to be high and management starts from the top...and first do no harm. Also, this manager is doing things to lookout for herself which is embezzling through the back door, while asking staff to work two jobs, etc. Where is her sacrifice?
—Guest Pat


I am a manager for this jerk who expects me to treat all 60 of his employees with dignity and respect which I try to do unless they give me a reason not to. However, it's ok for him to scream at me in front of these same employees as well as customers. I have had it but in this economy and being in the midwest, jobs are not there to just find, so I find myself putting up with his disrespect towards me. So not fair! Can't tell you how many times I wish he gets a bad case of hemorrhoids and can't sit for a week.
—Guest Denise

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What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

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