Are you working for a bad boss? Well I know what your pain is like - it's an awful feeling and can make you feel like there's no point even trying to deliver!
Well if you're in that situation then listen up - I'll tell you 5 of the worst types of boss you can have and how you can understand why they are so bad.
It's very true that managers and bosses vary hugely in quality and effectiveness. And I often hear that people don't leave jobs, they leave managers.
This is a boss that just wants to be your mate. They'll want to socialise with you, and will have that informal, friendly relationship that's more associated with a close team mate, rather than a manager or a supervisor.
The buddy boss will spend more time talking about sports or hobbies or external topics than work, and won't appear to be concentrating on your workload, deliverables or career feedback and development. In fact it'll seem like they're barely aware of your performance or your challenges at all.
We commonly see the buddy boss in situations where someone has been newly promoted into the managers role and hasn't been able to decouple the friendship aspect that they used to have as a team member. This is actually one of the most common issues that new managers struggle with, and remembering that you're now the manager and not the buddy is a critical aspect of new manager training.
There are certainly worse types of boss than the buddy boss, but a buddy boss will struggle to help you advance your career.
The clue is in the name here. This is a boss who doesn’t really want your opinion, nor expertise. Because in their own mind, well, they are the ones who know it all. You can often see this boss in teams where they used to be the subject matter or technical expert, and now are the manager. And especially if they used to be a very good subject matter expert, they might struggle to let go of that role.
The know it all boss doesn't create a team culture that helps people thrive. The atmosphere created doesn't empower or create that culture where innovation can flourish.
A key aspect of a manager's role is to let go of the technical expertise and trust their teams to do the job that they might once have done. Trust their teams to bring new ideas to the game, and challenge the old ways. That can be hard if that boss had a big hand in defining those successful old ways, they might not be open to ripping up the rulebook that they helped write.
The more a manager is able to defer their own ideas, to give their teams the major share of the voice, the more trust and confidence will be generated amongst their teams.
Without a doubt one of my least favourite types of bad boss. The unapproachable boss is, as the name suggests, never happy to speak to you or anyone else in their team. Or at least that's how they appear. Some unapproachable bosses are actually open to conversation, but not self-aware enough of their own body language to understand how they come across.
I've seen managers be so angry at their desks, cursing, moaning, complaining and generally looking like they don't want anyone near them. Or when they are approached, they'll roll their eyes or sigh, or display signs that they're really not open to the conversation. That just causes an atmosphere where people don't ask for advice, don't ask for help, don't alert their manager to issues, and it's a serious morale destroyer.
It's vital for any manager to be approachable, and open to their team claiming chunks of their time either in meetings, one to ones, desk or office walk ups, instant messages or however else.
The better bosses will make sure that their body language and communication style makes it obvious that they are open to being contacted. If there's an occasion where they want to be left alone, then they'll remove any ambiguity by using their Skype status or setting a do not disturb message. I've even seen people signal they are busy by wearing a red hat or having a flag on their desk. That may seem odd but it removes the uncertainty and is actually a successful tactic.
So as a boss it's vital to help your team know your availability and to try as much as possible to have that open door policy.
I hate bullies. And unfortunately they still exist in today's workplace. People who go out of their way to either harm your career, or negatively impact your experiences at work. They exist, and dealing with them isn't easy. Have a look at this blog for how to cope with bullies in the workplace.
And when that bully happens to be your manager then it's really bad. This is basically a completely unworkable situation and one that you shouldn't have to put up with as an employee.
The bully boss will deny you opportunities, not give you feedback, and may even be actively working to damage your career and effectiveness. It's not a good situation to hang around in and the best course of action is often to leave.
I used to see bullies in the workplace quite a lot a few years ago but fortunately these type of people are being found out more and more so are a lot less prevalent, but yes they do still exist.
Whilst a lot less toxic than the previous bully boss, the micromanager is one of the most annoying and a common complaint from many employees these days. You know the type. The manager that wants to tell you how and when to do every last aspect of your role. They want to check up on you ALL THE TIME, and need constant updates on every last task.
Basically they don't give you the freedom to do your job the way you want to do it.
Micromanaging can be a sign of a lack of trust in their teams, or a lack of confidence in their own ability or even just bad organisation on their part. It's much more down to insecurities on the manager's part than any fault of an employee, but it can be exceptionally annoying to the individuals affected.
The worst aspect of the micromanager is that there's a real impact to the team culture in terms of trust. Trusting managers empower their teams by setting the direction and deliverables and then letting them get on with it, trusting their teams to get the delivery right and on time. The culture of trust is critical to an environment where teams are empowered to innovate and develop new ideas. Having a manager scrutinising every last decision slows things down and causes a great deal of irritation.
So as a leader, trust your teams to deliver.
Being a boss is a hard job. And most bad bosses don't do it maliciously or deliberately - it's often down to a number of factors such as inexperience, lack of confidence, lack of training, company factors, or even sometimes down to a team that isn't giving them a chance.
So if you do encounter a bad boss, then try to cut them some slack, at least at the start. And if you're a really collaborative worker then why not offer them some feedback also your willingness to help them develop? Everyone needs to develop, and certainly managers.
Of course there will be the odd manager that won't deserve your help, but in many cases it will be a lot better for you to try and help them, then stand back and criticise.
And remember if you're not a manager yourself then you may well be one day and in that case you'll see just how hard it is.
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