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Readers Respond: What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

Responses: 255


Want to avoid becoming a bad boss? Afraid that you may already be considered a bad boss? Just want to commiserate with other people who have bad bosses? Here are your thoughts about what makes a bad boss, well - bad. Have more thoughts about bad bosses? Share them here. See what others have said about their bad boss.

Dear Readers: Comments that defame an individual by name and company name will be deleted. We're just looking for the characteristics of a bad boss and your experiences with bad bosses, not names. Thank you for your participation and cooperation. Susan

See More Reader Responses.


Executives love having pit-bulls. Managers/supervisors that they can control. Not the most educated and knowledgeable ones, but the ones that can get the job done regardless. Using any and every kind of tactic, because executives are concerned with what's happening right now. Not the future. When the reports complain they act passive like nothing is wrong until the pit-bull actually bites someone. They kill the pit-bull. Then go out and find another one.
—Guest ceg

Sometimes it's not the boss.

I have a report who I am certain thinks I am a bad boss. I question her. I double check her. I level criticism and now am leaving her out of decisions. She was given to me by another department who said she was too difficult. I gave her responsibility and trust, clear direction and lots of support. In return, when she doesn't agree with a decision, she just doesn't follow it. She befriends her colleagues and breaks their confidences to management. Her work is sometimes brilliant, but more often mediocre, junior, or simply not done. She truly feels she knows more than I or her colleagues, despite her lack of training, experience or results. She feels superior and will never take instruction or criticism. She is certain she is brilliant, but she is a total liability; she has an unearned sense of entitlement and will never appreciate that her bosses will always be 'bad', because she is a terrible employee.
—Guest Marketer

My boss is lying about me

My boss has started formal discipline for poor associate relations based on conversations he's had with "numerous" and the "majority" of our staff. Yet when I speak to the associates about this, every one of them looks at me like I'm crazy, agrees our working relationship is good. He's lying or exaggerating. I'm screwed either way. I'm calling HR but I don't foresee a good outcome.

Been there too many times.

In my previous retail jobs, I've found that most of my colleagues have resigned themselves to being bullied by the managers. I once had a manager who was the worst. You could tell that he had no experience because he would over order stock and mess up the rota so that there were less staff on the busiest days and then expect you to come in to work overtime (which he never paid us for). He was rude, bitching about other members of staff and frequently blaming us for his mistakes. He would frequently threaten to fire us if we didn't do as he asked and threatened me with a disciplinary for not coming in on the day I booked off, but didn't follow through. (I would've gone to the area manager and showed him the rude voice mail he left me.) He would often say one thing and do another, constantly changing the way things were done and yelling at us for doing it wrong. He caused someone to walk out mid-shift. Eventually, he was fired and replaced by someone who was completely useless.
—Guest Red

Dealing with a bad boss

My boss has listened to other employees say negative comments about me, so instead of confronting me with them present, he believes them. I have been at this company for more than 20 years, so well trained to say the least, but he refuses to put me in any type of "management" position because of the negativity. Not sure how to handle it

How to quit bad job with good references

I have used this for real when in University, then kept using it. When a University job was bad, I would just say "I need to focus on study". 2 years ago (I'm now 30), I had to quit a boss who sounded like many of the above stories - so I did it again. I enrolled in graduate study at a local university and told my boss I was leaving to study. The trick - give like 2 months notice. I did this 2 months before X-mas break with my end date 2 weeks after we got back. I got paid X-mas leave, enjoyed the X-mas party, then left on great terms. A month before classes even started, I accepted contract work elsewhere as a side job to studying. Eventually I quit school and became a full employee of the new job. Ran into old boss at Gym and everything was great. Point is if you want to leave a bad job well (keep good reference) go back to school. Most bosses respect education and will support you and be less offended when called for reference. Bonus - start new job as a side Uni job.
—Guest Light

Can't win

My boss is biased, and i can understand that not everyone connects at the same level. But my problem is I can't work out why he doesn't seem to like me very early on. I do my work just fine but I am viewed and accused of being introverted, generally bad at communication, have little social or soft skills. I have been working for a while but never had this problem - quite the opposite! I was recognised as a person with a good working attitude in my past jobs. At wit's end. Not only have I been cold storaged, I have to live with a bad rep and perception. I am at a loss now with low self esteem and increasing social awkwardness at work as I don't know how to react or behave in an environment where I feel like a leper.
—Guest Doolittle

MD Company has major problems

Wow, did I ever walk into a company that has major problems. Company is in MD with management that misrepresents to our DoD their service and support. Tells them it is U.S. based and it is really in India. Told me that they were going to hire U.S. engineer for support of sales to DoD and never did. I reported the manager of marketing as showing up drunk to a tradeshow to the CEO and then subsequently was fired 2 weeks later. I also had found out they were bringing in relatives from India to work on temporary Visas and paying cash under the table. No wonder we are having problems in our economy! CEO says U.S. workers are lazy. He is known to say that the only way to fire is to 'shoot the employee in the back' - meaning take them by surprise. He did that to me! Said I had NO pipeline, which I did have a pipeline but he favors men and saved the 60+ year old male who sold nothing for over 1 year, letting me go. Discrimination - you betcha! Unemployed and mentally damaged by this!
—Guest cybergal55

Dream job turned into a nightmare

Dream job was a perfect fit for me. Little did I know how unorganized and mismanaged with a lack of leadership, direction and support. I became a casualty of the psycopathic boss, he fits the definition all the way. Add government slowness and no accountability; that program would never make it in the private sector. Complete waste of tax dollars with no remorse. My boss was an example of how not to act and what not to do. I saw through all of his lies and he was threatened by my knowing more than him and having proof of his incompetence. Unemployed but healthier, I have never worked at a more toxic environment that gave me panic attacks and worse. The problems will always be there. Getting out is the only answer. At least I can get unemployment til I find a job.
—Guest Still recovering

Bad Boss even at the state level

Bad bosses have an effect on everyone especially if they work in health care. I just had the worst experience of my career due to a work place psychopath boss that fits the true meaning to a tea. My health was affected, had anxiety attacks thought I was having a stroke and went to the ER, even was suicidal. I was let go because I wasn't able to be quiet about his lack of leadership, direction, and support and not to mention his lies, deflecting all blame, never held accountable for his lack of actual work. It was like he was doing everything the opposite of how a boss should act. Good thing there isn't that many people like him. Hope to never have that experiance again.
—Guest Fred

My boss sucks!

My boss never had any training when it comes to managing or communicating with others. He hires stupid people who don't know the job. He treats me differently and ignores me when I say something he doesn't agree with. He tells employees that he is too busy to deal with anything. His home life sucks, so he takes it out on me and I'm sick of it. He helps certain people get ahead and makes excuses for their laziness and incorrect work. The few ones who care about the work have to do that work over. It's a waste and it's frustrating to see on a daily basis. Managing is not his cup of tea!
—Guest Freedom

Hate my boss

I hate my boss. She doesn't listen to anything and can't wait to have a go at employees. She thinks she's the best and the rest of us work to lick her feet. I hate it and can't wait to move on. Trying to find a job!
—Guest Sard

Bias rules

I have two bosses who are biased when it comes to rules. The rules and policies are flexible for everyone else except me since I have no children. This has been happening for years. I only stay hoping things will change for the better. Is there anything I could do to prove their discrimination ? Thanks. (You can talk to your state department of labor to see if you have options. With any discriminatory situation, you need to document each instance with date, time, and witnesses. You can talk with an employment law attorney. Report it to HR if you have one.)
—Guest Chum

Misery loves company

My boss hires relatives and people who do her favors (such as supply her with weed). She jumps to stupid conclusions. Has no compassion for our residents. Takes seven smoke breaks or more. She is tacky and unprofessional. Does very little real work. She yells at the good workers and surrounds herself with shady employees. She's an accident waiting to happen. All of this in the field of geriatric nursing - all we can do is pray.
—Guest unrelated

Frustrating Boss

I have been working at a small auto dealership for about a month now, and my boss seems to think I'm an idiot. He knew when he hired me that I hadn't been in any office position before, and said that if I had any questions to ask, to feel free. Yet, whenever I ask, he treats me like I'm stupid. Also, this past Saturday he gave me the day off out of the blue to be nice. Then, the only other guy that was there that day ended up having to see his mother in the hospital. My boss was left there alone, but instead of calling me to come in, fussed at me when I got back on Monday saying that it'll never happen again. Today, I had a customer on the phone and wasn't aware that my boss was in the bathroom. He told me to put the guy on hold, but the guy insisted on calling back. My boss gets back in his office and starts screaming to put him on hold, when I'm obviously trying to do that, but the guy won't shut up. After that happens, he's like,"Do I really have to yell at you this early?" Frustrating...
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