- High levels of dissatisfaction at work are attributed to poor company culture. In many cases, the issue can be traced back to a disagreeable boss.
- Bad bosses use intimidation techniques to manage employees. Instead of being fair and demonstrating integrity, the boss plays favorites and has rude mannerisms.
- Consider looking for new opportunities if your boss is creating a toxic work environment. Report any inappropriate conduct to HR.
Everyone gets frustrated at work sometimes. But in some cases, the person you're working for, not the job itself, is the source of your aggravation.
If you dislike your manager, it can ultimately cloud your judgment about your job and change how you feel about your workplace. Research from Gallup found that 56% of employees are displeased with their jobs. This dissatisfaction can stem from a lack of learning and advancement opportunities, low salary and/or bonuses, insufficient vacation or benefits, and poor company culture or morale, all of which can be attributed to bad bosses, according to WinterWyman, a talent acquisition firm.
What makes a bad boss?
Bad bosses come with a laundry list of problematic traits. The Society for Human Resource Management associates the following characteristics and actions with poor management skills:
- Being a workaholic and expecting employees to be available 24/7
- Being obsessed with numbers but providing no direction
- Engaging in office politics
Bad bosses often have issues with communication. They may systematically ignore problems until they become major conflicts. A bad boss doesn't ask for or want feedback from employees. The employees don't feel the boss has an open-door policy and are likely treated poorly if they approach the bad boss with a problem.
Bad bosses will have favorites among staff and make their favorites well known. The favorites may not have a superior skill set, but often are brown-nosers or friends with the boss. The boss ignores employees they don't have a connection with, and they don't provide fair advancement opportunities.
Bad bosses achieve results through intimidation over positive feedback. Instead of giving constructive feedback and advice on employee performance, the boss will bully the person to get the desired results. The boss is likely to be rude and prone to yelling fits over the smallest provocation.
Confronting a bad boss
If your manager has shown some or all of the above characteristics, you might think it's time to start looking for a new gig. However, it may be more prudent to discuss the issue with your boss or HR manager first.
Mark Stagno, principal consultant and team leader of software technology at WinterWyman, offered his advice for calmly and professionally dealing with a frustrating boss.
1. Talk to your boss.
The first step is to speak with your boss.
"If you are feeling unhappy but believe there is potential with the company and your role, meet with your boss," Stagno said. "Express your points in a positive and productive way, offer solutions to some of the issues, and ask for ideas to improve things."
He noted that the conversations with some managers may not go well.
"They may take it personally, and that can make it difficult to have a productive, honest two-way discussion. Try to prepare your boss, in a nonthreatening way, in advance of the conversation, so he or she is not caught off guard and is more open to what you have to say."
Although your situation may not be your boss's current top priority, chances are they will address it, Stagno said.
"That said, you should feel comfortable following up after a reasonable amount of time to see how your requests are progressing," he said.
If you ever feel like a boss's behavior crosses the line, don't hesitate to address the situation head-on. Document any type of harassing or bullying behavior. Speak to HR about the issues and incidences. You'll likely find that HR is well aware of your reported issues with the bad boss.
2. Talk with people outside work.
As a recruiter, Stagno has spent a lot of his career discussing candidates' frustrations.
"A trusted recruiter, family member or former colleague is a safer confidant to become animated with, rather than your boss or someone at work," he said. "If you often raise concerns with your boss, you may earn the 'complainer' label. If you vent to co-workers, word travels and people talk – it may not be your best move."
3. See what's out there.
Set aside some time away from the office to look at job descriptions, interesting companies and work opportunities, Stagno said. This can help you compare your current situation with potential opportunities in order to make an informed decision. In the end, you may want to seek out a more positive work environment with managers who help you thrive. If possible, try to leave on good terms with your current employer.
4. Monitor your job satisfaction.
Talking about your frustrations in a productive fashion and keeping tabs on the progress over a given time period may help you decide whether you want to stay or leave, Stagno said.
"Too often, people let it fester, wake up one day, and take drastic action to complain or quit or launch a job search without having had some checks and balances along the way," he added.
People have bad days, but you don't want to make a career decision based on one.