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Readers Respond: What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

Responses: 325

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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

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The Peter Principle

I worked for a boss who is a classic example of the Peter Principle. He got promoted to a position with no clue of how to actually do the job. He spends a great deal of time making major mistakes and expected me to fix them. I spent most of the day putting out fires he started and then have to put in time on my days off to get my work done. He was (and still is from accounts I have received) doing everything he can to cover up his incompetence including blaming his mistakes on other managers or staff. After I left the organization, 3 others have left for the same reasons (4 people in 6 months is A LOT for a company with 16 employees). Leaving was the best thing I ever did!
—Guest badboss

Overbearing, Demanding, and Manipulative

I worked directly under my supervisor and often had too pick up things quickly. She has no patience and often comes off really aggressive. She promotes herself endlessly, talks behind everyone's back and pretends she cares. She has no friends even though she worked in the company for a good few years now. She also tried to make me go and hang out with her after work hours and gets upset when I told her I have plans. She almost brings up my past mistakes during my first three month of work (which she "covered") and make it as if I owe her. We were so understaffed and overwhelmed with work that I had to stay until mid-night every night for the last three months and she complains about my time management even though literally I am swamped. She won't help and said that since she is a "supervisor" it's not her job and she even complains about how she had to remind me of deadline or check my final work. She doesn't have as much work but lies and said that she does but I just don't know about it - when I constantly see her playing games or chit-chatting. Worst yet, she brings her drama to the work place all the time, and she yells and humiliates people when she is in a bad mood - or if she felt slighted. She's so sensitive and clingy that one wrong word can set her off. But she goes and blames other people for their attitude (like when I was so tired and burned out at 9 pm and have more work to finish before leaving and all I did was sigh and slam my pencil down at my desk because I was tired - she told me that I was giving her attitude and that I need to respect her!) Also, when we were understaffed and overwhelmed, she stayed late playing games, waiting for my co-worker and I to finish a project to look it over, my supervisor complained that she was stressed and stayed just to check our work. She helped made one page of listed items for us (takes two minutes - really simple) and told us that it was our job and we should thank her for her favor! Really? What part of understaffed and swamped don't she understand? It's no longer about what your job title is - it's work! It's everybody's job in that circumstances because we are swamped and you need to help! It's not doing favors! GOD! I hate her! and I can't wait to quit! Worst was when my co-worker quit with just me on the team, my supervisor had the nerve to tell me not to worry that she is there to help. Then the next day, as I am doing my load and my ex-co-worker's load, my supervisor got one slide that she needs to file in some data into with a deadline of three days, turns to me and said "we will work on it together" and then demand me to get the data so she can send it out that very day just after I told her of how many projects I have and then proceed to get upset when I told her I am very busy and forced me to get the data because "it will only take you a few minutes". I cried because I knew then and there that even if new people get hired, it will not get better for me because I hate the job now and know that there will never be any support - and that my supervisor was planning to give me all of her work. I'm all for expanding my job description but even I am not that idealistic. Especially when I know my company is cheap and will only hire one person for our team so we are still going to be understaffed.
—Guest No Support

Company Owners as Unskilled Managers

I was warned in my interview that there had been 3 people in my position in the last 4 years. I've had great working relationships in my 20 year career and thought I could break the cycle. No. I was called out on behaviors that others practiced with impunity. There was one employee that was the bosses' favorite, but no one else really liked working with her. I was in my boss' office and happened to see a page long email with my name as the title. After that, it was all downhill. We would meet monthly for them to tell me everything I did wrong last month. They were mad if I ever questioned them or suggested something new. The final straw was a horrifically cruel email sent to me in the middle of a workday while each of their office doors were closed. It said things like "we all feel such relief when we realize you are not here." I was so hurt, I left work and didn't stop crying for days. I still have not recovered - and yet they all appear to be thriving. Go figure.
—Guest Still Hurting

Pure Scum

Lies, cheats, bellittles, advances the untalented brown nosers. I've been working in this lab job nearly 9 years now, and I can say hand on heart, that this man is by far the worst piece of s**t I've ever had. Basically, if you haven't an honors degree or are very good at brown nosing, your career takes a massive, massive nosedive. I had 3 family bereavements last year, this smug SOB made me take the funerals as vacation. He never listens to opinions that are different to his own, any attempt to improve how we do things is treated as if you've murdered a child, and worst of the worst, he keeps his superiors in the dark about the welfare of his employees. I speak from experience, he kept his boss in the dark about my mental health issues for over 2 years!!! Also loves to encourage infighting amongst staff and take credit so we all look stupid, apart from his chosen few!
—Guest Carlton Richardson

Bi-polar personality

My manager has only one answer to all questions - 'Because I think so' All the discussions with him end up with one comment from him, 'I don't see this discussion going anywhere.' And then he tries to pawn off his brother-in-law on me asking me whether my parents are looking for a suitable groom for me. And then again a change, he tells the other managers what a bad (character-less) girl I am. Recently a team member took maternity leave and he replaced her. Then what is the use of such leaves? I thought IBM would be different, but bad bosses exist everywhere. In India, it is just more if you are a female IT employee.
—Guest ArBee

Marijuana Boss

She smokes weed throughout the entire day, then gets in a bad mood and spits in my face, harasses me, and I can't do anything about it.
—Guest Scorrpion1970

Bad boss

I wish that boss gets involved in an accident. This woman nearly gave me a heart attack, she was always on my throat. Nothing I ever did was good in front of her eyes. I am sorry to wish bad for her...but I ended up taking out work frustrations to the most important people in my life, my family, I get so teary when I think about this ...
—Guest noney

Great list!

My boss is guilty of most of the poor supervisory skills bullet points. She printed out an article about job lay-offs and recommended I pick up an application for another employer. This is a threat! Is THAT OK? Or should I tell HR? (I'd certainly ask HR if layoffs are planned and if you should be looking for a new job.)
—Guest anonymous

Will you believe this?

My old boss at a practice was overly micromanaging, (if the end result was the same, but the process to get there wasn't, I had to start all over, even though the claims were paid.) negative, two faced, insulting, showed overt favoritism, (she asked us all to go out for a department lunch, but paid only for her favorite employee and she also went out on weekend excursions with said employee), does not listen, won't admit when she's wrong, lies to save face, doesn't back her staff in order to stroke upper management's ego, takes credit for staff's ideas, (once I found a quality bonus that would bring in 30k for the practice, and she got the bonus because she never indicated I found the program), and publicly humiliates people. When I turned in my resignation, she sent me home early and began bad mouthing me to the other employees and all but slandered me. Am I exagerrating all of this? I wish I was. When I quit, my self esteem was at zero and I ended up going to therapy for a while. (You may want to talk to a lawyer about contacting the company to collect the quality bonus that should have been yours. If nothing else, send a polite letter to the head of the company that informs them of the situation and that you believe that the bonus should have been yours. This would put them on notice that this occurred and why you left.)
—Guest Boo4badbosses

Never commenting boss

I worked as a data clerk under a boss who probably thought that with exorbitant expectations rather than words or compliments he would motivate us to work. During a particular system failure which lasted for up to a week,we had a backload of about 1500 files. The fact that we handled about 200 files a day and the fact that he would be going for the quarterly presentation at the country office only 5 days later left him in a deep dilemma. We became concerned that he might not be presenting an up-to-date data base - a thing which was vital for his appraisal and promotion. He had clearly conceded defeat, but we didn't, we wanted to surprise him even though we knew he cared naught about anybody‘s welfare but his ‘carrier‘. We simply wanted to be thoughtful, for we were truly touched. We worked into the files every ounce of our energy. The next day, we were able to announce that in addition to the daily average of 200 files, we managed to clear 300 files out of the whole constituting the monstrous backload.
—Guest Abdullahi

Married male owner and female coworker

I am a top sales producer for 7 years, and I am amazed at how the owner's attitude towards me is changing. He supports another female (2 yrs) w/company. She is quite flirtatious with the boss, tells him how great he his, handsome, brings him snacks and goodies. She brags about herself, how terrific she is etc. and family all the time etc. She upsets the staff when the boss is out of the office. He doesn't believe the staff nor does he discuss the situation with the staff and her together. Recently, 10/7/13, during a sales meeting, he disrespects, berates and threatens me with a, "You and I will continue the conversation later!" during the sales meeting. . . . On 10/11/13, after all the staff leaves for the weekend, as I walk past his desk, he says to me, "So what, you mad?" I reply, "No". Good thing I informed his older sister of his behavior (first time i actually spoke to her in 7 years) and intend to ask her to attend a meeting with her brother and myself.
—Guest guest serena

My boss sucks

My Boss threatens to "knock people out when he can't get his own way". He is a serial adulterer and cheats on his family often. He fills his car with red agricultural diesel fuel then begs petrol receipts of his staff so he can claim his milage back. Unfortunately for him, he knows I know all of this so I have him backed into a corner with no escape but to leave me alone to do my job without his constant bullying. I only ever got any peace once I put my cards on the table and told him all I know and made sure he knew that if he messed with me again without just cause I would f#$k his life up. I didn't like having to say that, but iI'm afraid if I hadn't said that, I would still be living in fear of him ... now he lives in fear of me and im pretty much left alone .... RESULTS!!
—Guest pip

Endless self promotion trash talker

My horrible boss was a horrible person. He expended too much time and energy promoting himself as the know-it-all get anything done person. He was always making disparaging remarks about people behind their backs, calling people stupid and bragging about how brilliant he was. Even the smallest of mistakes made on any project (all of which he micromanaged) resulted in his personal kangaroo court where he would assign blame and punish. All done in the privacy of his torture chamber office where the door was always closed to create an environment of control and intimidation. His form of punishment was always the same - a humiliating verbal reprimand followed by threats of demotion and pay cut. He was chummy with the division manager so he was untouchable. He squandered corporate money on foolish projects. He never delivered to corporate the results he promised so when the hammer came down on him he in turn brought the hammer down on us.
—brithgob

How I quit

Where to begin??? My boss was 6 years junior to me and has immense power at the office. When he hired me, I didn't have work experience in the particular field but he comforted me, "Hey, even I didn't know a thing about this field and look at me, it's not difficult, I can teach you everything," and it was my dream job with the highest pay I ever got. I didn't think and took the job. Well, two weeks into the job and I found out to my horror that he was a sick micromanager. I started keeping track of each and every reviewed doc and found that he was actually correcting his own previous corrections. Even worse, he ended up writing the exact same words I came up with in the first place, it drove me freaking nuts. I ended up working real late finishing all his jobs making him looking real good. But, within passage of time, he started tightening his grip over me and made me repeat the read and explain the meaning of one sentence over and over again until I agreed that what he said was right and I was completely wrong and a moron.
—UnluckyVictim

Most unprofessional boss

I have worked at a doctor's office for over a year. He is a chiropractor and the owner. He is cheap and never wants to buy new toner or supplies. He said we can handle pee samples without gloves. He had an affair with the old nurse practicioner and when the office manager told his wife, they fired her. The new office manager is stuck up his butt and she is nuts. I don't get paid for hours I worked. They get shaved off my time sheet and I am sick of it. The DEA needs to get in there and see this joke of a pain clinic. They let the patients walk out with their "Perc 10's" even when their urine is positive for marijuana and cocaine. I plan to give my notice tomorrow since I have never been confronted that my job performance is poor, but at 7:45 they TEXT me and tell me I don't have to come in today. I was on my way out the door. Screw that. Who is so unprofessional that they can't even tell you the night before. They tell you in the morning when youre all ready for work via text..
—Guest stupid job

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What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

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