An effective manager or supervisor can help you feel supported, communicate important updates and make your work life easier. Unfortunately, not all bosses are great leaders for their employees. If you feel you’re working with a bad boss, there are strategies you can use to improve your situation and navigate the relationship as successfully as possible.

In this article, we list some signs you might have a bad boss, list nine helpful tips on how to deal with a bad boss and offer strategies for coping with ineffective leaders and improving your relationship.

What traits does a bad boss have?

Bad bosses are managers or supervisors who have trouble working with and leading some or all of their employees. They can manifest in many forms, such as managers who are controlling, show favoritism or don’t clearly communicate their expectations. A bad boss may act unprofessionally when delegating tasks to others, speaking with employees, completing their own work or leading team meetings. Some traits that may describe a bad boss include:

  • Confrontational

  • Unkind

  • Unaccommodating

  • Unmotivated

8 types of bad bosses

Some colleagues or individuals might have different experiences with your supervisor compared to you. It’s important to determine what kind of bad manager you’re working with and find a solution to your challenging relationship. Here are eight different types of bad bosses you may encounter in the workplace:

1. A boss who’s unfriendly

It can be challenging for you and other employees to develop a strong working relationship with an unfriendly manager in your presence. Managers may be unkind to their employees due to an overloaded schedule, introversion or anxiety.

Consider the problems they could be experiencing in their own work or personal life. It can be helpful to know that a lack of friendliness might be a side effect of a challenge they’re experiencing elsewhere. You can also approach your manager with this concern and ask them to adjust their communication approach.

2. A boss who has poor leadership skills

Some managers might not be great leaders for you or your colleagues. For example, a manager might give their employees a lot of commands and tasks but appear to do little work on their own. Poor leadership may occur due to a lack of motivation, anxiety, insufficient industry knowledge or a workload that’s too much for one manager to handle.

Unnoticed background work might be the case for managers who seem to exhibit poor leadership. Sometimes, these managers perform tasks and duties that other employees don’t notice. If you have a supervisor who seems to exhibit poor leadership, consider observing any work or tasks they might be completing that you previously hadn’t noticed. Otherwise, if you’re sure that your manager isn’t working with your team, you can consider informing the human resources (HR) department.

3. A boss who works alone

Some supervisors prefer to complete tasks and projects by themselves. They may neglect to delegate tasks or objectives to other employees and take credit for the work once they complete it. Forming a working relationship with these types of supervisors can be challenging.

If you work with this kind of manager, consider asking for a more detailed outline of your expected responsibilities and duties. This can help you find tasks and objectives for yourself or help your manager understand the need to explain how you can better contribute to the company or team.


4. A boss who micromanages other employees

Some managers have trouble trusting their employees or staff to complete their assigned jobs and tasks. These managers may check in with their employees frequently or coach employees constantly, even when it’s unnecessary. For example, a manager may point out a mistake on a project before the employee has completed it. Although this kind of initiative can be helpful, it’s sometimes more beneficial for the employee to find the mistake on their own before turning the project in for review.

If your manager tends to micromanage, consider discussing this behavior with them because they might be unaware of it. If you explain your desire to find mistakes and inconsistencies on your own, it can help you grow as an employee and help them grow as a manager.

5. A boss who’s disrespectful

Another occurrence is managers acting disrespectfully toward their employees. This can manifest in many forms, such as making unprofessional remarks to staff or shaming and critiquing individuals on their work performance.

If this occurs at your place of work, it’s important to report these behaviors right away to a higher-level supervisor or the company’s HR department.


6. A boss who’s too demanding

Sometimes, a manager can be overly tough or critical during working hours. This can cause stress for employees and staff and lower the morale of work teams. For example, your supervisor might give you a lot of edits on a project and require you to turn them in within an unrealistic time period.

If you work with this kind of manager, communicate that the task is unreasonable when you account for other duties that are part of your job description. Offer a solution, such as enlisting another team member‘s help or extending the deadline for the edits.

7. A boss who’s unhelpful

A manager may be unhelpful when you ask them for advice or assistance with some of your projects. These managers sometimes think employees learn better if they succeed or fail on their own. Although this can be a helpful learning technique, managers can benefit from understanding when their assistance supports their employees’ performance and overall growth.

If your supervisor has trouble giving you advice or assistance, consider asking your team members for help. You can also have a respectful discussion with your manager about how their behavior affects your work performance. You can also request more specific feedback from your manager about how to proceed with a specific element of a project or task.

8. A boss who shows hostility

Bad managers can show hostility when interacting with employees. A hostile manager may lack empathy and speak condescendingly to employees.

If your manager is creating a hostile environment that’s affecting your motivation or job satisfaction, report them to the company’s HR department. You might also consider seeking employment elsewhere.



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