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Bosses 101: What makes someone a bad boss?

bad boss, LinkedIn, andrew o'keeffe

If you dread going into work, have anxieties and fears about your workday, it’s probably because you’ve got a bad boss making your workday a living hell. Unfortunately you’re not alone—80 percent of employees leave their jobs because of their bosses. For many people the behaviors of bad bosses begin to affect the their mental and physical health, notwithstanding his/her ability to do the job well.

“Simply uttering the word, ’boss’ drives an emotional response,” says Andrew O’Keeffe, a human resources executive of 25 years and author of the book appropriately entitled, The Boss. “It’s gotten so bad that even the mention of our supervisors can tie our stomachs into knots.” O’Keeffe, who has been observing bosses for many years recognizes the symptoms of a frustrated subordinate— feeling trapped, helpless and being plagued by self-doubt are all consequences of cruel managers. The affected employee must choose to stay in the job and be demeaned, or complain and get fired: It’s constant struggle to maintain one’s self-esteem.

“It becomes an either-or situation. In a bad economy, it’s more difficult to find a new job so managers find that their power-base is increased,” O’Keeffe says.

If you’re an employee in this frustrating situation, first thing to do is to recognize the type of bad boss you’re dealing with. For some bosses, it’s possible to reason with them because some simply “don’t know what they don’t know,” as Dave Schoof, a LinkedIn professional points out. So providing that you approach sticky management issues with diplomacy and courtesy, it’s possible to turn a bad boss into a not so bad one. But be advised that there are some bosses who are just insane, impossible and incapable of changing.

Here are some common characteristics of a bad manager and if you recognize any of them in your boss, buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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  • Tracy Allerton 5 years ago

    Great series, Ji Hyun!
    I may be wrong, but think there may be one other distinct category -- the ladder-climbing boss, or someone who's so busy working on their OWN career (kissing up to higher-ups, attending "meetings," long business lunches, etc., -- in fact, these activities have become their full-time job!) that they are vitually useless to their subordinates. On the other hand, this type of boss generally stays out of your way (no micromanaging HERE!), so if you're capable and self-motivated, it can be an OK thing ...

  • Chris Demarco, CFRE 5 years ago

    A great working relationship which breeds productivity is when this group is a team. A true leader allows employees to develop their gifts to their fullest potential. Allowing workers to be a vital part of the whole unit enables ownership and inevitable self pride of the employee's work.

    The manager who keeps all the workers on the same level removes the competition and allows employee to focus on the work at hand.